By Nicole Fitzgerald
Who: John McDermott
Where: MY Millennium Place
When: Wednesday, March 28, 7:30 p.m.
John McDermott is one of the few musicians who can say they rose to stardom over night.
He burst onto the Canadian music scene with the million-selling Danny Boy Collection in 1993. The overnight success was a twist of fate.
McDermott recorded the album as a personal and private 50 th anniversary tribute to his parents. But after a friend dropped the album in the hands of EMI Music Canada, McDermott went from sentimental son to recording artist sensation, with the album hitting number one on the New Zealand album charts as well as going double platinum.
“I was at the right place at the right time,” he said. “It was impossible to fail. (A friend) who handled The Stones gave it to the president of EMI. There was a whole lot of Atlantic Canada talent coming up like Anne Murray, Rita McNeil and Great Big Sea.”
More than a decade later, McDermott is still connected to the EMI family, however, he produces his own albums while EMI distributes.
Creative control as an artist is important to the native Maritimer who now wants to lend a helping hand to up and coming artists.
“Rosanne McKenzie (of The McKenzie Project) is really good,” he said. “One of Canada’s premier fiddlers, as good as Natalie… I like to see myself helping other artists, so they don’t have to go through the (crap) of the recording industry.”
McDermott has a lot of wisdom to bestow, with the hard worker releasing at least one album a year. He has nine full-length albums in his career along with three Canadian platinum records, five Juno nominations and a solid international touring schedule with an average of 100 shows a year. The former member of the PBS Irish Tenors also has one the United States’ highest honours, the Congressional Medal of Honour Society’s Bob Hope Award for his commitment to veterans’ causes. Along with working with the Congressional Medal of Honour Society, the War Amps of Canada, the Semper Fidelis Society and the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans, McDermott also founded the McDermott House, a transitional housing co-operative for veterans, and the Hope McDermott Day Program Centre for war veterans.
“My dad was a World War II tail gunner,” McDermott said. “My mother’s brother died in a Malaysian prison camp. So when I did get the success Danny Boy offered, I focused firstly on war amps to bring recognition to what they do and particularly the Champs program for prosthetics for kids.”
Even with all his success, McDermott is not one to rest on his laurels. His most recent albums include Stories of Love, Timeless Memories: Greatest Hits and On A Whim .