The O'Donnells

An Australian Family Bluegrass Band


John and Wendy met in the United States in the mid 80's. They returned to Australia in 1987, got married and settled in John's home town of Cairns. They were founding members of the Cairns band, the Snake Gully Ensemble, in which they played gigs around Far North Qld.

They moved to Brisbane in 1991 and began playing with the Sunshine Mountain Bluegrass Band. Booked to play a gig in Toowoomba one night in the late 90's, the rest of the band couldn't make it. The three kids were invited to jump up on stage and join John and Wendy. The youngest, Katelyn, was 3 years old at the time. They played the gig and stayed...

Fast forward to 2009 and in an effort to keep the busy family together, they started playing in country music festivals. At the end of 2009, the band won the Open Group section of the Qld Country Music Festivals Champion of Champions event.

They continued playing regular gigs including the Redlands Bluegrass Festivals, the Urban Country Music Festival, Gympie Muster, Dorrigo Folk & Bluegrass Festival and MountainGrass (Vic).

In Dec 2010, they released a self-titled album, featuring a range of original and classic bluegrass, gospel and country tracks. In 2011, they received a finalist nomination as 2011 Group or Duo Of The Year in the Queensland Country Music Awards for Recording Artists.

As time went on, the kids grew up and left home and started their own families. The band slowed down but continued to play several gigs a year until mid 2020 when Covid cancelled all concerts.

In 2021, Jacqui organised a concert while the family were in Caloundra. We had planned to have one of the grandchildren (John's son - 8 year old Johnny) join in a few songs with the family band. As he came up on stage, his little sister, Amy (3 years old) jumped up as well. She knew all the words and joined in like a pro.

In 2022, the family was invited to audition for a new TV show, "The Voice Generations.” This was an exciting adventure for the family and has enabled them to share their music with a global audience.

The family continues to get together regularly and plan to play again as opportunities arise.