Triple platinum recording artist, John McDermott, will give a special holiday performance, live on stage at The Holy Family Church, on Wednesday, December 18th, 2013, at 7:00pm, in Chicago, IL. Enjoy an evening of Scottish and Irish ballads, beautifully sung by the founder of the acclaimed Irish Tenors. Presented by BMO Harris Bank. Ticket price starts at $50, with all proceeds benefitting veteran focused organizations A Safe Haven Foundation, The 100 Club of Chicago, and McDermott House. Tickets available through A Safe Haven.
John McDermott can recall the precise moment when he realized he had made the right decision to give up his day job and make singing his full-time career. That moment came at 8:00pm on October 5th, 1993 at the Rebecca Cohn Theatre in Halifax, Nova Scotia as he walked on stage to a full house and a thunderous East Coast welcome.
As he mentioned to a magazine interviewer, John remembers the details so well because it was the first concert with his own band, following a year as the opening act for the internationally renowned Irish group, The Chieftains. John was thrilled that the Halifax crowd was wildly enthusiastic – so enthusiastic, in fact, that their encore-encouraging applause kept the show going for more than four hours.
Not that many years before, John had been working in the circulation department of one of Toronto's daily newspapers, The Toronto Sun. As a creative outlet, he would sing a few Irish and Scottish folk tunes at staff gatherings – songs he had learned growing up in a musical household in Willowdale, Ontario after his family moved there from Glasgow, Scotland. His father Peter – John still considers him the finest tenor he has ever heard – and his mother Hope encouraged family sing-a-longs. The only formal musical training John received was when he attended St. Michael's Choir School in Toronto for two years.
John recorded an album of Irish and Scottish ballads as a nice 50th wedding anniversary gift for his parents. He recorded 12 tracks, one for each of the 12 McDermott children, and then added one more version of Danny Boy the way his father liked to hear it sung – a cappella.
Those who heard the album encouraged John to have it produced commercially. Recalling that a couple of entertainment business heavyweights, Michael Cohl and Bill Ballard, had been impressed with his singing at a Karaoke Night during the Toronto Floating Film Festival a couple of years earlier, John took the album to Ballard, who put him in touch with the president of EMI Music Canada.
EMI released 2,000 copies on November 10, 1992. The next day being Remembrance Day, famed Canadian broadcaster Peter Gzowski played three tracks from the album – And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda, Danny Boy and Christmas In The Trenches. The stores couldn't keep it on the shelves and more copies were quickly produced. A few months later, Paul McGrath, a CBC-TV documentary maker who had also attended St. Michael's Choir School, profiled John in a short piece that Peter Mansbridge aired on his prime time nightly newscast The National. Within a short time the album had sold more than 50,000 copies.
EMI began urging their new "find" to go on tour to capitalize on the success of the album. John resisted at first because he had a steady job at the Toronto tabloid. Then he remembered Bill Ballard and Michael Cohl saying that if he ever turned professional, he should get in touch. John once again contacted Ballard, who arranged for the gig with The Chieftains. Hedging his bets, John took a leave of absence from The Sun in case his musical career failed to take off. As things turned out, he needn't have worried.
Throughout 1994, John toured Australia and New Zealand where Danny Boy had topped the charts. In 1995, Ballard arranged a British tour with The Seekers. John played his first U.S. concert at Boston's Ritz Carlton Hotel in 1995 and a member of the audience went backstage to pay his respects. It was Senator Ted Kennedy and the American icon invited John to perform at the Democratic National Convention in 1996. They became friends and John, at Ted's request, frequently visited the Kennedy Compound at Cape Cod. When the Massachusetts senator died in August, 2009, John was invited to sing at the memorial service.
Since the beginning of his musical career, John has recorded more than 25 albums, three of which have gone platinum while another has reached double platinum status and yet another achieved a triple platinum ranking. His latest offerings are entitled The Old House – a collaboration with his long-time musical director, guitarist and artist in his own right, Jason Fowler – and My Gentle Harp: A Tribute To Thomas Moore, the musician, poet and singer who lived from 1779 to 1852. The Old House offers such perennial favorites as Wild Mountain Thyme, The Cliffs of Doneen and Red is the Rose, as well as the hilarious crowd-pleaser I'm My Own Grandpa. With My Gentle Harp, John pays homage to the man whose words have been used in opera, in the works of James Joyce and have been featured in performances on some of the greatest stages of the world. For more than 200 years, Thomas Moore's poetry, prose and music have touched the lives of millions and continue to have an important influence on the arts to this day. [from John McDermott biography]
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Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
BMO Harris Bank presents
JOHN MCDERMOTT, tenor
The Holy Family Church
1080 West Roosevelt Road
Chicago, IL 60607
(Adjacent St. Ignatius College Prep)
Tickets: A Safe Haven