From small screen to studio: 6 stars to watch who can act and sing

They make us laugh, cry and scream every week on their hit TV shows, but some of the small screen’s leading stars are using another medium to overload our senses – music. Here, just a few of our favourite musically minded actors who have us reaching for our iPod as well as the remote.

BY CLARE DOUGLAS

1. Elizabeth McGovern
On Downton Abbey, Elizabeth McGovern plays the elegant and refined Lady Grantham – matriarch of the Crawley family. But off-screen, Elizabeth sheds her silk gowns and white gloves for jeans and a T-shirt when she takes centre stage with her band Sadie and the Hotheads. The Chicago-born beauty studied at Juilliard in New York City before easing her way into music in 2007. “I was horrified at the idea [of singing for an audience] but I gave it a try and no one booed or threw things at me, so I went back to it again and again,” she told nodepression.com.

Singing (and playing guitar) along with the band’s country-fusion tunes is a perfect fit for Elizabeth, and performing has become a passion for the Oscar-nominated actress, who told the Evening Standard, “it’s made me happy. The more time I put in the studio, the more I feel I’m a musician.” Don’t be surprised if one day a Downton duet makes waves in the music world – Elizabeth’s on-screen daughter, Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary), is a trained jazz singer!

2. Lucy Hale
For five seasons, Lucy Hale has been unraveling mysteries while fighting off anonymous threats on the hit show Pretty Little Liars, but come June, the Memphis-native will be taking on a new battle -- on the country music charts. Her debut album Road Between is jam-packed with twangy ballads and upbeat love songs like her first single, “You Sound Good To Me.”

Lucy's leap into music was just waiting to happen, she says, telling Teen Vogue, “this has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl singing songs into my hairbrush in the mirror.” Whose songs did she perform? Canadian sweetheart Shania Twain's, of course! “I listened to the Come on Over album! I remember how fun it was and how happy it made me feel... I hope that's how my first album is – it will make people want to go back and listen to it,” she said to billboard.com.

Emily Kinney
Nebraska-native Emily Kinney has taken a break from battling zombies as Beth Green on The Walking Dead to release her first album, Expired Love. A former Broadway star (she performed alongside Glee’s Lea Michele in Spring Awakening), Emily has a soft, calming voice that has lent itself nicely to some emotionally charged scenes on the zombie drama. (Her cover of Tom Waits’ hit “Hold On” will give you goose bumps.)

Her music is steeped in heart-wrenching tales of lost love and broken dreams but, thanks to sparks of hope coursing through each chord, there is a sweetness to them that is hard to ignore. Emily, 28, told MTV that the album is “about relationships and relationships that were over and sort of dealing with a way to put them in a little place and move on” – universal themes we can all relate to.

Iwan Rheon
There are a lot of unhinged characters on HBO’s Game of Thrones, but none more so than Ramsay Snow – a mysterious young man with a knack for torture played by Welsh actor Iwan Rheon. Off-screen, the 28-year-old boasts a decidedly softer side, and an affinity for crafting memorable music. He has been writing and composing songs since he was 16 and showcased his talents in the London production of Spring Awakening.

While filming the hit U.K. series Misfits, Iwan recorded and released three EPs and is currently working on his debut full-length album, expected to hit stores later this year. His “stripped-back acoustic” music, as he calls it, is simple, raw and honest. “Some of the songs are like stories. Maybe like folk-ish?” he said in an interview with Acoustic magazine. “I really like Ray LaMontagne. I‘d love to be compared to someone like that.”

Lennon & Maisy Stella
Fans of TV's Nashville know Lennon and Maisy Stella as Maddie and Daphne, the adorable daughters of country superstar Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton). But the musically gifted sisters (both play the guitar, piano and ukulele) have quickly become Internet sensations after their acoustic cover of Swedish singer Robyn’s electro-pop song “Call Your Girlfriend” garnered more than 22.5 million views on YouTube. Lennon, 14, and 10-year-old Maisy get to showcase their talents on the show, performing in some of Nashville’s legendary haunts like the Grand Ole Opry.

Last year their cover of The Lumineers “Ho Hey” reached the Top 40 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and the Whitby, Ont., natives were shocked when British pop star Harry Styles tweeted his support. “I was crying,” recalled Maisy to Vulture. “I was freaking out. I’m like the biggest One Direction fan, so I was screaming and yelling!” There is no album in the works yet, but the girls regularly post new music to their YouTube channel and have taken their show on the road, playing a variety of festivals and concerts.

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