Hazel Kaneswaran Biography

Hazel Kaneswaran has been a part of the Irish music industry since 1996. Her talent as a singer and a songwriter is augmented by her gregarious personality and stunning good looks.

Born to a Singaporean father and a Irish red-headed and freckled mother, Hazel was brought up in a working class area of Blanchardstown in Dublin. Her dad was one of the first coloured people in the neighbourhood and, as a local window cleaner in a paddy cap, proved a massively popular figure. He loved soul music and passed that love on to his daughter. Hazel's dad died suddenly at the age of 44 and as Hazel is the second eldest of eight, she had to help her mother out by looking after her six younger brothers.

Hazel always had plans to make it in the music industry, despite balancing her family obligations with her job on the assembly line of a local fridge factory called Thermoking. She wasn't long waiting for her first break . Graham Cruz , a rapper and choreographer, had heard about Hazel's voice through her model sister Gail. He contacted her and asked her if she would like to join his new band "Dove". The two hit it off immediately and together with Don Ade, had, within a year of forming, scored a major hit in Ireland with the ultra cool track "Don't Dream".The band were in the enviable position of topping the charts as well as winning critical acclaim when "Don't Dream " was voted single of the year by readers of "Rock Bible" Hot Press Magazine.

After an intense bidding war between several UK record labels, it was Trevor Horns' ZTT Records who won the band's signatures. Unfortunately, as with many acts before them, the honeymoon period with their label didn't last long and soon the Dove story turned to disappointment. ZTT refused to release anymore material after "Don't Dream" failed to match its Irish success in the UK. A tough period followed as the band began to live in the purgatorial world of being signed to a disinterested record company.

But as Geri Halliwell told Frank Skinner, "Hazel has the voice of a diva" and we all know you just cant keep a diva down. So when the Dove dream was over and "Popstars: the Rivals" came along, Hazel knew she had to give it a shot.

Hazel, then seven months pregnant, moved millions of hearts across Britain and Ireland when she sang with all of her soul on Popstars: The Rivals and secured a place in the final band selection. Her talent, looks and personality were sure to guarantee her a place in what would eventually become Girls Aloud. But, as with the rest of Hazel's life, nothing was that simple as there was the small matter of her being ten days over the age limit for the band. So, with a camera crew in tow, Louis Walsh visited her to tell her she would be joining the other girls in the house once she had her baby. Then a few days later Geri Halliwell journeyed to Dublin to tell her that she was out again. There had been an administrative error and the producers had to enforce the age limit rule.

The media across Britian went crazy for the story and soon Hazel's name was on everyone's lips. The media frenzy was further compounded by the birth of her first son Oisin. Despite numerous offers, Hazel didn't sign a record deal in the aftermath of Popstars: The Rivals. She explained, "Record companies did approach me, and flew me over to London but it was the same story with all of them. They saw everyone from Popstars as a short term act and i saw myself having a long career in the business. They really couldn't tell the difference between the Cheeky Girls and Madonna". Hazel decided to stay in Ireland, wait it out and write her own songs.

Having set up her own home studio, Hazel began writing with a number of collaborators including Sam Brown, Ray Harman, Crowded House's Nick Seymour and Ivor Novello award winner George De Angelis as well ad Grammy nominated writers "The Matrix". The fruits of these sessions provided Hazel with lots of great tracks, but again Hazel found herself expecting her second child. Having previously experienced the difficulties that face a pregnant woman in the music industry, Hazel thought that it would be best to keep hold, at least in the short term, of her own career. "The last thing I wanted was some old fart like Pete Waterman trying to tell me what a pregnant women can or can not do, so I took control".

Instead of approaching the big studios, Hazel emulated her role model Madonna and formed her own label, thus keeping control and ownership of her work. "I have no intention of signing other artists yet", she said at the time, "but doing it this way means I am my own boss".

Hazel released her first solo single "Heartbreak Valley" in Oct 2003 which was a top ten hit and remained in the charts for six weeks. Hazel went on to perform at the Cheerios Childline Concert and was then nominated for a Meteor award. In 2004 her second son was born. She also performed as support act for Brian Adams in Ireland later that year. In 2005, her second single "Crying Again " was released and was also a top ten hit.

By the end of 2005, Hazel became a judge on "You're A Star ' along with radio DJ Dave Fanning and Barbara Galavan of IMRO. This gave Hazel an insight into all things TV . "I loved watching how a programme comes to life and what really goes on behind the cameras". In May 2005,  she recorded a cover of  "Because the Night" and played to an estimated 120,000 people at O2 in the park in Dublin. "That was an amazing gig; to stand on stage and to hear the fans sing your songs back to you - fantastic buzz". Also that same year she recorded a song on the album "Even Better Than the Real Thing" for charity. "A Sort of Homecoming" is a U2 cover and it was so great to be on an album with so many great Irish artists", said Hazel of the experience.

In 2006, Hazel married Martin Grogan and they had two more sons together. Hazel took a step out of the entertainment industry to prioritize bringing up her four sons, while also writing songs for other artists in her spare time.

2014 has been an exciting year so far for Hazel. She was selected by RTE to mentor an entry in Ireland's Eurosong contest. Hazel co-wrote 'Heartbeat' for traditional Irish act Can-linn featuring the vocals of Dublin based singer Kasey Smith.

'Heartbeat' was voted by both the the Irish public and a selection of regional juries as the outright winner of the Irish 2014 Eurosong contest ahead of four other strong contenders. With winning the Eurosong, Can-linn have earned the right to represent Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen this coming May.

Hazel is delighted with the success of Can-linn and is looking forward to the challenge of competing on stage with Europe's finest music acts.