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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Artist Profile: Emmet Cahill

[As with all profile posts on this site, this is a work in progress, and new and updated information will be added as needed. All factual information is corroborated through official sources as much as possible, but a lot of information presented here is also from my own personal knowledge as a Thunderhead of many years.] 

Poor Emmet managed to leave Celtic Thunder before I got around to making him a profile post on this site! But better late than never, right? Emmet Cahill joined Celtic Thunder after Paul Byrom and Damian McGinty left, becoming the ensemble's youngest member and reigning tenor until just this year. (Don't you love that title, 'reigning tenor'? Personally I prefer baritones and basses, but tenors do tend to have a particular something to them.) Actually, though, while Emmet did win an award as Top Irish Tenor last year, he really is a baritone. (In fact his range sits about where mine is, which makes him easy to sing along with, although when he is not dealing with high altitude, he can sustain a note much longer than I can. When he is singing in Colorado, though, I can keep up well enough, I think.)

Emmet officially left Celtic Thunder in January 2014, but when George Donaldson died suddenly in March Emmet rejoined Celtic Thunder for their Australian tour. He was also still performing during the 2014 Celtic Thunder cruise that occurred in early November 2014, so many Thunderheads are understandably confused as to his actual status with the group.

According to Emmet, in an interview he gave to Irish Music Daily, "Yes I left the show at the start of this year to pursue solo opportunities. It has been a great chance for me to really find where I am looking to go in my career, and finally take the time to develop as a solo artist. When you’re part of a show that is constantly touring and recording it can be difficult to do that so I just felt time was right. I went back to do the Australian tour given the sudden passing of my dear friend George Donaldson. The tour had to go ahead and I guess in those situations you have to stick together. I spoke with management and we agreed the best thing to do would be to come back and pay tribute to him on the tour, which we did." 

Now that the Australian tour and the cruise are over, Emmet is busy doing a series of holiday shows in Ireland, after which, or concurrent with which he is working on his first solo album. He has not said much about what else he is working on, except that there is more, and to stay tuned. As with Paul, Keith and Damian, it will be interesting to see how well Emmet manages outside Celtic Thunder. In Keith's case, after all signs showed for a while that he was weaning himself from Celtic Thunder to go solo, his contract with Verve went sour and he seems to have renewed his dedication to Celtic Thunder for the time being. Paul Byrom left the group many years ago now, and while he has found a steady, if light, stream of concert opportunities to keep him going, he has had to limit his scope to the US East Coast, southern coastal states and Ireland, becoming almost forgotten everywhere else. Paul and Keith both had solo work released prior to their separation from Celtic Thunder, which Emmet does not have, but Emmet has his ties with Colm Keegan, still a member of Celtic Thunder, and their duo project that has been evolving under the name Celtic Comet. I am optimistic, so long as Emmet can keep up his momentum and keep the Thunderheads interested while he is holed up in Ireland this winter. 

Emmet, pre Celtic Thunder
According to wikipedia, Emmet Cahill was born October 18, 1990 (though the Celtic Thunder website profile states that he is 22, which doesn't match up with his being born in 1990...), and is from Mullingar, which is near Dublin, in Ireland. (And, yes, I will be double checking Emmet's birthyear. It's amazing how many different birthdates these guys are given by the many different sites that write about them, and I hate promoting misinformation. I'm pretty sure 1990 is correct, though.) Emmet went the academic route to get into music, proof that sometimes it really does work. He attended the Royal Irish Academy of Music where he received a university degree in Music Performance. He performed for sporting events and in concerts in Ireland prior to joining Celtic Thunder, and was involved in musical theater.

Emmet in Celtic Thunder
In 2010 Paul Byrom left Celtic Thunder, and Emmet Cahill was chosen to replace Paul. This was the first new member in Celtic Thunder, and it took some fans a long time to get used to the idea that Celtic Thunder could last without any one of its members. Emmet, from the very beginning, has been an extremely charming, endearing fellow, projecting a genuine graciousness and plenty of sex appeal and winning over most of the Thunderheads easily within his first few months in Celtic Thunder.

Emmet's debut on a Celtic Thunder album was with the song "Kindred Spirits", which appears on the album Heritage, the last album on which Paul Byrom's songs appear. Heritage was also the album that debuted Neil Byrne as a lead singer, btw, with the song "Noreen". 

Emmet's solo songs with Celtic Thunder (album tracks):
"Kindred Spirits", Heritage
"Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears", Voyage
"This Is the Moment", Voyage

"My Irish Molly-O", Voyage II
"The Isle of Innisfree", Mythology
"Danny Boy", Mythology
"Always There", Mythology II

In addition, of course, Emmet sang in many of the ensemble pieces from the Voyage and Mythology shows and albums. 

"Emmet Cahill on his upcoming solo album and other projects." Irish Music Daily, 2014, accessed November 19, 2014. http://www.irishmusicdaily.com/emmet-cahill-on-his-upcoming-solo-album-and-other-projects
"Emmet Cahill."  Celtic Thunder official website, accessed November 19, 2014. https://www.celticthunder.ie/artists/emmet_cahill
Emmet Cahill's Official Website - http://www.emmetcahill.com/

New from Ross Crean- Lullabies for Trying Times

Lullabies for Trying Times cover art
Well, Celtic Thunder is on tour again, a brand new tour of holiday songs performed with local orchestras, a grand symphony tour that also debuts the new Emmett, who joined the group as Emmet Cahill left to pursue other projects. Emmett O'Hanlon has a powerful voice and the requisite good looks to join the rest of the oh-so-dreamy Celtic Thunder lads as they travel the States singing for Thunderheads. George Donaldson's lower voice has yet to be replaced, so the group sounds a bit less grounded now than what I am used to, but they still sound great. 

Meanwhile the rest of the music world has been busy. In particular, Ross Crean, the Chicago musician and composer whose earlier album Blackwater introduced his luscious-sounding Irish side, has a new Irish album. Ross writes and performs a lot more than 'just' Irish music, including movie scores, and a range of sounds drawing from techno, electronica, rock, rap and pretty much anything else that catches his imagination. My favorite music out of his vast repertoire is probably always going to be his Irish songs though, both the traditional songs and his Irish-inspired originals. This week his brand new album, Lullabies for Trying Times came out, not just Irish songs, but Irish lullabies!

My readers on this blog might have noticed how much I like Irish lullabies, so it should come as no surprise that this is the album whose release prompted my returning to writing here (after George died I really haven't listened to much Irish music of any kind since, till Ross sent me his album). On his website, Ross says that this new album was created for his mother Charleen, who passed away from pancreatic cancer in July of this year. He finished making the song "Siuil a Run" just in time for her to enjoy it before she died, a special gift for her then, just as the rest of the album is a fitting memorial for her now.

Roughly half of Lullabies for Trying Times is made up of traditional Irish lullabies sung in Irish. I've heard some of these before, but not all of them. I do have a couple renditions of "Cronan an Maighdinn-Mhara" in my Irish playlists, but not many, and while most fans of Irish music know 'Siuil a Run', Ross gives his rendition a special twist of his own. One of my favorites, "Taladh Chriosta", made it onto this album too. I keep wishing Celtic Thunder would record this song, but unless Ross teams up with them for this song, this recording may be the closest I've heard to what I want this song to sound like. (Now there's a crazy dream scenario- Ross Crean singing with Celtic Thunder, highly unlikely, but it would sound lovely.)

Mixed in with all the Irish are 5 other lullabies in English, including a couple originals that set the tone for the overall album. I'm afraid my ears still go straight for the Irish right now, but the English tracks are good too. Another of the songs I always think incorrectly that I've heard the Celtic Thunder lads sing, "All Through the Night", may be my second favorite track on Ross's album. I still want Celtic Thunder to arrange this one for all 5 voices, but in the meantime since the fellow I'd pegged for this song, solo, was George...  Anyway, I really like Ross's rendition of this song. And, if I was a guy, I'd still want to have a singing voice like Ross has.
And, of all the albums currently hanging out with the Byrne and Kelly album on the itunes World Music charts, this is one of the few I'd not mind seeing ahead of Ryan and Neil in the rankings this season.

Lullabies for Trying Times was released November 18, 2014, and is now available on cdbaby, itunes, bandcamp and spotify.  You can find out more about Ross Crean on his website and on facebook

"Lullabies for Trying Times" is a collection of Gaelic and English lullaby songs, which Ross Crean created for his mother, Charleen, who passed away from Pancreatic Cancer in July of 2014. "My mother begged me for years to record a lullaby-type album," Crean said, "as did many of my friends who were having children. The only thing they all requested was that I make it listenable and interesting for them as adults, so I chose a few traditional favorites as well as composing a few original songs."
- See more at: http://www.rosscrean.com/whats_new/lullabies_for_trying_times_out_now/#sthash.fkjoFWd2.dpuf
"Lullabies for Trying Times" is a collection of Gaelic and English lullaby songs, which Ross Crean created for his mother, Charleen, who passed away from Pancreatic Cancer in July of 2014. "My mother begged me for years to record a lullaby-type album," Crean said, "as did many of my friends who were having children. The only thing they all requested was that I make it listenable and interesting for them as adults, so I chose a few traditional favorites as well as composing a few original songs."
- See more at: http://www.rosscrean.com/whats_new/lullabies_for_trying_times_out_now/#sthash.fkjoFWd2.dpuf

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Weekly Playlist Special Edition: George

I would have been putting a new weekly playlist together today, 20 songs with no songs from past playlists and only one song per band, same as always. I have been without home-internet for weeks, so this would have been the first in a while that I could do at home. However, after today's news, I put together a 15 song special playlist instead, all Celtic Thunder songs, including many I have used in past playlists. George Donaldson's albums are not on spotify, nor for some reason is the Celtic Thunder album It's Entertainment!. So, my home playlist today includes a few songs that I couldn't include on my spotify playlist, but these 15 are at the core of today's playlist remembering George Donaldson. And since this playlist will appeal more to Thunderheads than to my general music blog readership, it gets a post on both sites this week. Consider this a big musical hug from a Thunderhead music blogger still waiting for the news about George to sink in, or waiting to wake up and tell my sister about this odd and implausible dream I was having where the first news I saw when the Internet came back on was that George was dead...

Saying Goodbye to George Donaldson

Last week at this time the big issues in Celtic Thunderland were the cancellation of the New Zealand part of the upcoming Celtic Thunder tour and the fact that Emmet Cahill has left Celtic Thunder to pursue his solo career. All of a sudden neither of those issues seems so hugely important. Yesterday George Donaldson, the oldest of the Celtic Thunder singers, died at the ripe old age of 46. We found out this morning, and in a gesture of uncharacteristic openness or maybe just a side-effect of shock, the Celtic Thunder website already has a post on it telling us what happened, and all the other principal singers- Ryan, Neil, Keith, Emmet, Colm, Paul and Damian- all included brief public statements. In other words, while some aspects of the aftermath of his death must remain private and we must respect the feelings of his family and friends as they deal with their sudden, terrible loss, we are all in this together, as one big Thunderhead community.

The rest of this season may be a bit trying, as the news slowly filters through the rest of the Thunderheads. The 2014 Australia tour is scheduled to start in May, and without Emmet and George the tour may be less likely to happen, or may require another rushed newcomer to learn the songs for the Australia tour. We have seen already over the past few years that bad news takes a long time to reach the whole community, especially those who are not on social media very much, so there will be many frustrated, confused fans who find out about George when they find out a show is cancelled or when they realize he is not on stage at the show they have looked forward to for months. For today and this week, let us remind ourselves of that supportive community we can be, and let us appreciate all the more the rest of the artists we love. And, in the days and weeks and months to come, let us remember to be patient and supportive of each other and of the Celtic Thunder artists and management.

It will probably take a while for the reality of his death to sink in- it was just so sudden and unexpected, and he was so young! I updated my profile article on George this afternoon, and hunted down the two halfway tolerable shots of him that I took the last time I saw and met him, in Loveland this past November. I went through some of George's youtube videos, and now I have the Celtic Thunder albums playing on spotify. I barely knew him, so I can't imagine how today must be for the Celtic Thunder band and singers. We will all get through this, with more good times and great music still to come, even if right now those good times seem a bit out of reach.

George will always be missed, but he will live on in his music and in the music of his friends, forever.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Emmet is Moving On

Celtic Thunder fans around the world are still adjusting after it was just recently announced that Emmet Cahill, one of the younger members of Celtic Thunder, is leaving the group. Fans are wildly speculating as to why this sudden departure has occurred. Emmet has been in Celtic Thunder for 3 years, so he may of course be simply moving on to something more exciting, but since the Australia/New Zealand tour this year is a part of the Mythology show touring schedule, it seems interesting that Emmet would not be staying with the group through the end of the Mythology tour. Still, with the group focusing their energies on Mythology and Christmas shows this year, the group seems to be wrapping things up in 2014, leaving themselves a nice window to shuffle members, and maybe even decide the future (or lack thereof) of Celtic Thunder before investing time and energy in yet another new Celtic Thunder show.

Whatever the future holds for Celtic Thunder as a group, Emmet Cahill has a lovely voice and a great personality, and I am sure he can create whatever new opportunities he needs for his career as a solo musician. Who knows- maybe by next year Colm Keegan will be free from Celtic Thunder as well and we'll see Celtic Comet take off as a viable, chart-topping, world-touring duo. It will be interesting to see what 2014 has in store for Emmet, and for the other former Celtic Thunder singers- Paul Byrom, Daniel Furlong, and Damian McGinty.