A north-east singer who became a social media star during lockdown is preparing to record and release her first single – and hopes to help out two mental health charities in the process.
Amanda Jane Taylor, who performs using the stage name AJ McLovely, sang regularly in her spare time before coronavirus struck, but since being furloughed from her job as a dental hygienist it has become more than a simple passion.
AJ, 40, said: “I couldn’t go to work, and work had kept me busy and distracted with everything going on in my own life.
“I just started doing live streams on Facebook and doing music videos, and it’s just grown arms and legs. I’ve definitely been busier than I would have been if I was at work!”
Her latest videos have been receiving as many as 37,000 views, with fans as far afield as Canada, and venue pages based in Dundee, Glasgow and Lancaster have hosted her livestreamed gigs.
The single mum of two has already been using her popularity for good, as she spreads the word about mental health awareness on any platform she is given.
And she hopes to donate cash from the proceeds of her single to charities SAMH and Branching Out.
She said: “I do tend to do quite a lot to do with mental health because I’ve had huge issues after my dad died 18 months ago at the same time as my marriage broke down.
“I hit a very bad period, and because of the help that I’ve received that’s really helped me get through, I’ve tried to help other people and be open and talk about it.”
Her experiences led her to write her song ‘Hold On’, to much positive feedback from her fans – prompting her mum Julie to start a fundraiser to allow her to professionally record it.
Julie said: “I put up a post saying let’s try and raise £1,000 to get the ball rolling, and within a matter of days it had got to the £1,000.
“The feedback she’s had from people with mental health issues, saying that she’s getting them through lockdown, has been immense. She should be very proud.”
AJ is now waiting until lockdown restrictions ease to the point where she can get into the studio, and she plans to use any proceeds from the single to show her gratitude for two causes that helped her through her struggles.
She said: “There are two particular mental health charities that supported me, and they are SAMH and Branching Out.
“It’s different these days, you don’t make thousands off a single, but if it does generate some money I’m hoping to donate to both those charities because they’ve been absolutely invaluable to me.”