The Transylvania Times -

Cahill Discusses Brevard, Music And His Future - Brevard NC


Last updated 3/12/2020 at 10:22am

Emmet Cahill

Irish tenor and Celtic Thunder principal vocalist Emmet Cahill is touring the United States this spring and returning to Brevard to perform at First United Methodist Church on Friday, March 20, at 7:30 p.m. This is his third time singing in Transylvania County in the past five years. Recently, he sat down to answer a few questions and give us a little more insight about his upcoming concert at FUMC.

Q: A lot has happened in your life since you were last in Brevard. You recorded your debut orchestral album with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland ("Emmet Cahill's Ireland") on the Sony label and it went straight to #1 on Amazon, iTunes and Billboard World Music Album charts. You performed at Carnegie Hall to a sold-out audience and have been a guest artist with several U.S. symphonies, and five years of successful tours across the U.S.A. and Canada. Not bad for a guy from a small town in Ireland!

A. It's been a whirlwind these last five years, that's for sure! I like to stay busy and wouldn't have it any other way.

Q. Out of all the metropolitan cities around North America to tour, what drew you to our little community in Brevard?

A. One of my national promoters, Jeanne Hatter, lives in Transylvania County. She told me all about Brevard's history of embracing classical and timeless music – a virtual "music mecca" with the rich traditions of Brevard College and the Music Center – and assured me that I would be a good "fit" here. She's very persuasive, and she's never steered me wrong yet! Our last three shows at FUMC were complete sellouts.

Q: What was your impression of Brevard after you first performed here in Christmas 2015?

A: It's a beautiful area – rich in natural resources, cultural offerings and a wonderful community of people. I felt at home as soon as I arrived, and the welcome I received from everyone was very humbling.

Q: What can concert-goers in Brevard expect at your concert this year?

A: They can expect a night of song and stories! I like to share my memories of growing up in Ireland, and I also perform a program of Irish, liturgical and nostalgic music. There will be ample opportunity for the folks to sing along with me – so they better be sure to have their voices well warmed up!

Q: Can you name a few of the songs/pieces you plan to include in the concert?

A: Sure! Classical pieces ("Panis Angelicus" and "Ave Maria"), church hymns ("How Great Thou Art"), Broadway hits ("Music of the Night" from "Phantom of the Opera" and "I Dreamed a Dream" from "Les Miserables"), Irish classics ("Danny Boy" and "When Irish Eyes are Smiling") and nostalgic favorites ("On the Street Where You Live" and "Moon River").

Q: Who were/are your musical influences?

A: My parents. My Mom and Dad used to travel the country singing and playing at church ceremonies. So, as we (Emmet, his older sister Laura and his younger brother Aaron) got older, they used to bring us along and allow us to join in. We had a family band at one stage called Musicahill Quartet. We were known as the Irish von Trapps.

Q: You sing everything from opera to Broadway show tunes to Irish classics to contemporary covers. Which is your first love, musically?

A: My first love is definitely classical and operatic music, but I like performing all genres. My parents used to play music all the time at home and in the car when we were going anywhere. The music could vary from Disney songs, musical theater, classical music to Irish folks songs. My dad played old John McCormack (world-famous Irish-American tenor in the early 20th century) records in the house, too, which really got me interested in the old classic Irish songs.

Q: You're studying opera with a teacher in New York City. Are you thinking of solely focusing on that genre and becoming an opera star?

A. I've been taking opera lessons for the past few years and practicing extensively when not on tour. It's bringing me back to my days as a student at the Royal Academy of Music in Dublin. It challenges me in completely different ways to anything I've done before, and I can't look back in 20 years knowing I didn't back myself to take on the challenge. I'm not sure what the future holds; time will tell, I guess!

Q: You've been solo touring for the past five years; singing in 80 plus cities a year. How does performing a solo show/tour compare with being a principal singer with Celtic Thunder?

A: Having a solo career is a lot more work for me personally to organize, but the rewards have been huge. When I go out on stage every night and receive such a wonderful wave of support, it makes all those late night calls, interviews and emails worth it. It's similar in that I see so many wonderful friends I have made during my time with Celtic Thunder. They have followed my career since day one and now travel all around the country to see me. I am blessed with an incredibly loyal following. I do my best every night to repay their support.

Q: You're a big sports fan, following golf, rugby and Gaelic football. You're serious about working out as often as possible. Do you ever have days when you think you should have gotten into a sports career instead of singing?

A: It's something I've thought about over the years, yes. Growing up, I always thought I'd end up being a sports presenter (announcer). But I love what I do now and feel very blessed to have these opportunities.

Q: The song request medley segment of your concert is very popular with your audiences. You ask the audience to give you 6 to 8 song titles, Seamus (accompanist) creates a playlist on the spot and away you go! What are some of the more bizarre song requests you've gotten?

A: Hahaha! The audience sure keeps us on our toes, and I never know what is going to be requested. Seamus is a walking encyclopedia of song titles and can play just about anything, but I admit there are a few which require me to take out my phone on the spot and Google the lyrics. The most bizarre requests have probably been "Ho Hey" by the Lumineers and "The Unicorn Song." Give me a really good opera piece or a Broadway standard anyday!

Q: Why are Americans so fascinated with Irish singers and musicians?

A: I think Irish music is so steeped in identity and history and that is something that translates all over the world. I feel very honored to be able to bring the Irish songs and stories to people all over the United States. That sense of identity is a huge part of who I am as a person.

Q: On your current tour, you're performing in a mix of performing arts centers and churches. Does that keep the tour more interesting for you? Which do you prefer?

A: I like to keep my tours varied. I love being up on a stage with the bright lights and sound systems in performing arts centers and singing to crowds at an Irish festivals. But it's equally gratifying and comforting to be singing in a church sanctuary. I grew up singing in my cathedral in Mullingar and it feels like coming home.

Q: How did (Celtic Thunder Assistant Music Director) Seamus Brett land the job as accompanist for your solo tours? He seems to be gaining a fan base, too!

A: Maestro Seamus and I got to know each other very well on the Celtic Thunder tours. He has worked extensively in Ireland and North America, both as a touring and studio musician and as a producer with many talented and respected entertainers. He is an amazing talent and very entertaining, too. I'm glad to have him in my corner!

Q: While on tour with Celtic Thunder, you are interacting with your fellow singers and band members, road crew and fans on a daily basis. How do you recharge your batteries and get some "alone" time?

A: I love my coffee, first off, so I tend to frequent a local coffee stop and get some work done, as is the case at this very moment! I also spend a lot of time in the gym. It's one of my favorite ways to decompress after a long day.

Q: Safe travels, and we can't wait to see you in our neck of the woods in a few weeks!

A: Thanks! I'm really looking forward to returning to Western North Carolina. It'll be great seeing old friends again and meeting lots of new Brevardians. Make sure to stop by the receiving line after the show so we can say hello!

(General admission tickets are $30, and a limited number of Meet & Greet plus concert tickets are available for $45. Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.eenetcanill. com/tour/ dates/, at the church or at the door.)


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