Singer John McDermott will be venturing out for a spring tour which includes Red Deer. The concert runs May 20th at the Red Deer Memorial Centre.
The tour features songs from his latest release, Traditionally Yours, as well as a variety of favourites from his vast recording catalogue.
Besides his musical career, he is also known for his commitment to veterans’ causes – the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honour Society’s Bob Hope Award, the Ted Williams Globe & Anchor Award from the USMC and, here at home, a commendation from the Minister of Veteran’s Affairs for this ongoing work, which includes his foundation McDermott House Canada, dedicated to improving care in the final stages of terminal illness and providing a warm, welcoming place to stay for Canada’s veterans, military, first responders and their families.
Looking back to his start, McDermott can recall the moment when he realized he had made the right decision to make singing his full-time career.
It was at the Rebecca Cohn Theatre in Halifax as he walked on stage to a full house and a thunderous East Coast welcome. It was the first concert with his own band, following a year as the opening act for Irish group The Chieftains. McDermott was thrilled the Halifax crowd was so enthusiastic.
Not that many years before, he had been working in the circulation department of one of Toronto’s daily newspapers.
As a creative outlet, he would sing a few Irish and Scottish folk tunes at staff gatherings – songs he had learned growing up in Willowdale, Ontario after his family moved there from Glasgow, Scotland.
The only musical training he received was when he attended St. Michael’s Choir School in Toronto for two years. But the turning point in terms of career was sparked when he recorded an album of Irish and Scottish ballads as a 50th wedding anniversary gift for his parents.
Those who heard the album encouraged him to have it produced commercially. 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. So he took the album to Ballard, who put him in touch with the president of EMI Music Canada.
EMI released 2,000 copies on Nov. 10th, 1992. The next day being Remembrance Day, the late broadcaster Peter Gzowski played three tracks from the CD. The stores couldn’t keep it on the shelves.
A few months later, CBC-TV profiled him in a short piece that was aired on the The National. Within a short time the CD had sold more than 50,000 copies.
McDermott took a leave from his job to tour with The Chieftains. At the end of that tour, he sat down with Cohl and Ballard and looked at the numbers. They knew that if they put him on a national tour, he’d be on his way.
Since the beginning of his musical journey, McDermott has recorded more than 25 albums. And although he emerged during a time of resurgence in Celtic music, and much of his tunes retain that kind of charming feel, he has been careful not to pigeonhole himself as a ‘Celtic artist’ per se.
For ticket information, call the Black Knight Ticket Centre at 403-755-6626.