‘An Evening with John McDermott’
When: 7 p.m. Feb. 21
Where: First Baptist Church of Gainesville, 751 Green St. NW, Gainesville
Cost: $17 to $92
More info: www.fbcgainesville.tix.com
A smooth, soothing voice meets powerful music and philanthropy when John McDermott takes the stage for many of his concerts. Now McDermott, once a member of the famed Irish Tenors and multi-platinum recording artist, will bring his range of hymns, traditional songs and contemporary music to Gainesville.
The charity concert is set for Feb. 21 at First Baptist Church of Gainesville. Tickets are $17 to $92, depending on seating. Seats can be purchased at www.fbcgainesville.tix.com.
First Baptist Church music director Mark Green, the Rev. Bill Coates and committee chair Roy Cleveland first contacted McDermott about a fundraising concert last year. Now, the group is bringing McDermott to at 751 Green St. NW to help raise money for the church’s music ministry and Good News at Noon.
The Times spoke to McDermott about his success, musical style, crowd interactions and giving back to the community before his upcoming concert.
Question: When did you first learn to sing or realize how strong your voice is?
Answer: It was around grade 8, when my teacher realized I had a good voice and should be going to music school. So I went to Saint Mark’s Choir School.
It kicked in around 1989 when we were on a cruise, and Roger Ebert was on the cruise. We had a karaoke night, and he got up to sing “Blue Suede Shoes.” Then I got up to sing, and the machine broke down so I did an a capella version of “Danny Boy.”
Question: How would you describe your style of music for those who are unfamiliar with the Irish tenor sound?
Answer: I’m more contemporary or traditional folk. I’m more of a storyteller. We all sound different. I guess it’s how I interpret the songs that may be different, and certainly we all have different voices, different ranges and different presentations of the songs.
Question: Why do you go out and interact with the crowd during intermissions? When did you start doing this?
Answer: Day one, before the show and at intermission in the lobby. They’re the ones that afford you that success. You can only be there if you have an audience there to support you. I’m not a big fan of meet-and-greets, I just enjoy meeting. You’re going to get some constructive criticism from your fans, but you’ll also get some great questions and good advice. People sometimes bring these music books and these old books that are 200 and 300 years old with these fantastic songs that have changed over the years. A lot of times, you get a little more history than you already knew.
Question: What makes you want to participate in these types of church or charity events?
Answer: My parents were very much about giving back. My mom and dad worked at the Good Shepherd Ministry in Toronto, and they had 12 kids. They always believed in giving back to the country and giving back to the veterans. If we can support the soup kitchens and the shelters and the veterans as well, then we have held up our end of the bargain that we are able to do once we have achieved success.
Question: What motivates you to make a wide range of music, from traditional to hymns to contemporary?
Answer: I like all kinds, and I record all kinds. Most artists stick to one genre, and I don’t see a reason to do that. You have a great opportunity to be very creative with songs that are (centuries old) from different artists, and you get a chance to get at them and get them in some new clothes with a new sound, and that’s very memorable for some people.
Question: What is your favorite part of performing for crowds like the one you will see at First Baptist Church of Gainesville?
Answer: They’re going to go on a slight roller coaster, and emotional journey through the lyrics of these songs. And a lot of them will have memories attached to them. It’s certainly a very pleasant and enjoyable time, and it allows them to raise funds for something that is very near and dear to them. There’s no downside to working with the church.