Acclaimed Irish tenor John McDermott to star in benefit concert for Irish Scholarship Fund


Image: John McDermottIrish tenor John McDermott, whose international singing career began when he belted out "Danny Boy" at a company party, will bring his rich, expressive voice to Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts this Valentine's Day. The concert, which also features the glee club of the Fairfield-based Gaelic-American Club, will begin Friday, Feb. 14 at 8 p.m. McDermott will attend a free post-concert reception.

McDermott's appearance will benefit Fairfield University's Irish Scholarship Fund, which brings Irish students to study at the university. The scholarship honors the memory of Father John Conlisk, a Bridgeport Diocesan priest for 28 years.

A decade ago singing was just a hobby for McDermott, then a circulation sales representative for The Toronto Sun in Canada. But when he sang his impromptu version of the Irish standard "Danny Boy" at a company party, executives in attendance were so impressed they funded his first album, "Danny Boy." Recorded as a private 50th anniversary tribute to his parents, the album found its way to producers at EMI Music Canada.

EMI released the album to strong sales in the United States and Canada. "Danny Boy" reached the top of the New Zealand album charts and was certified platinum there. With an increasing fan base spurred by his tireless touring schedule, McDermott was invited to sing on the PBS television and recording phenomenon "The Irish Tenors" in 1999 and 2000.

McDermott has recorded nine albums in the last 10 years, including three platinum albums in Canada. He has been nominated for five Juno Awards - the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy - and tours internationally.

The ninth of 12 children from a traditional Irish family in Glasgow, Scotland, McDermott moved to Canada in the 1960s. His musical roots are equal parts Scottish and Irish and his songs showcase an innate understanding of both traditional folk melodies and more contemporary styles. His albums include such chestnuts as "Amazing Grace," "The Rose of Tralee," "The Skye Boat Song" and "Scotland the Brave," all rendered in his strikingly pure voice.

McDermott is also known for his commitment to veterans' causes. He established the Hope McDermott Fund - named for his mother - to offer programs for homeless veterans. The fund supports McDermott House, a transitional housing cooperative for veterans in Washington, D.C. and the Hope McDermott Day Care Program Center in Boston. He has been recognized for his efforts with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society's Bob Hope Award.

"So much of the music I sing really speaks to the veterans' experience and I feel a great deal of respect for the men and women who put their lives on the line for the sake of their country," he said.

Tickets for McDermott's Quick Center appearance are $30. For tickets, call the Quick Center box office at (203) 254-4010 or toll free at 1-877-ARTS-396.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on January 17, 2003

Vol. 35, No. 165