September 24, 2001
John McDermott Combines Talent, Business Shrewdness
By Peter North
In a world where music execs handpick the participants in new pop bands on television shows, and industry seminars supposedly point the way to future success, the story of John McDermott's rise to stardom continues to be one worth repeating.
What would the man who has now sold a few million discs worldwide offer if he found himself on such a panel where possible career decisions, of both the making and breaking variety, were being discussed?
Would it be "Just wait until it's your parents' 50th wedding anniversary, record a batch of classic Irish and Scottish tunes as a present for them. The rest will take care of itself"?
Not likely, as the Torontonian has proven to be not only a wonderfully talented artist and entertainer, but an astute businessman. The fact is that aforementioned scenario is exactly the catalyst that kick-started McDermott's career a decade ago.
In that time frame the balladeer has released nine albums, the most recent being A Day To Myself, which by the sounds of it, is something he wouldn't mind having.
Busy he may be, but he's also pumped about current projects, among them a television special with PBS in Boston, and the company he keeps. A prime example of the latter is his association with Eric Bogle, the Australian folksinger opening McDermott's concerts on this Canadian tour.
"I met Eric in '95. That was a few years after I recorded two of his songs on my first album. He's a great artist and storyteller," says McDermott of the man who has been known to fell audiences with some brilliantly timed physical humor.
As the former newspaper circulation manager's profile rose Stateside, offers began streaming in that would team him with symphonies and bring him into living rooms via television specials.
The Irish Tenors was such a hit for PBS that the Boston affiliate of PBS recently signed him to star in a special next spring.
"EMI has the rights for the show for Canada and something will be worked out with the CBC," added the always amiable singer who has noticed a shift in the demographics of his audiences.
"There are more people in their 30s and 40s and I think family attendance is up," continued McDermott who, on a recent Canada AM appearance, really impressed, given how early the performance took place.
"My voice is pretty much there on demand. I'm not overly aggressive with it and I take care of it, drink a lot of tea and gargle."
If there are any differences to note about his voice over the past 10 years, they have to do with his maturing as an artist. "There are some interpretation differences as well," added the man who must be a record label's dream.