The applause was thunderous, the audience in raptures, a young man singing his heart out, so much talent and personality wrapped up in a dimpled package. Here is a young singer on a solo tour with hundreds of ardent fans making their way to see and hear Emmet Cahill. He is an Irish tenor who has performed with the renowned Irish singing group, Celtic Thunder, all over the world. On Thursday night, he made his second appearance in the West Palm Beach area, again accompanied on several numbers by the Robert Sharon Chorale, the 84-voice-strong local community chorale.
Cahill is from Mullingar, County Westmeath, the same setting of John Patrick Shanley’s play Outside Mullingar. Irish theatre is one of my favorite theatre experiences so I was particularly intrigued by the opportunity to see the performer whose debut album, Emmet Cahill's Ireland, went to number one on the Billboard World Music chart.
He made his Carnegie Hall debut in New York City recently and this fall he will sing in 75 cities across North America with Celtic Thunder on their 10th anniversary "X" tour. But for now he is embarking on a multi city tour as a soloist which will take him to nearly a score of other US cities during the next two months. So expect to see him somewhere! He promises to return to the West Palm Beach area sometime in the future as well.
Cahill played to a packed house and it’s no wonder. He is one of the most dynamic and personable, not to mention immensely talented, singers I've seen. His program on Thursday naturally included several Irish classics such as “Danny Boy”, “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”, “An Irish Lullaby” and “Wild Mountain Thyme.” “I am very proud to be Irish,” explains Cahill. “I want people to feel a real connection to the songs, as well as the people and the stories that they represent. There has always been a special relationship between the Irish and American people and I want to further enrich that friendship.”
As his performance was in a religious setting, the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in West Palm Beach, and he has strong religious roots beginning his singing career at his own local church in Mullingar, he sang several moving hymns including a tearful, heartfelt performance of “Amazing Grace.”
His tenor voice is strong but clear. He manages to bring forth so much emotion and clarity with his voice, an instrument onto itself, with never an inaudible word. Cahill can deconstruct a song to certain simplicity so not one emotive moment is lost on the audience. It doesn’t hurt that his accompanist, Seamus Brett, is an extraordinarily gifted pianist who knows how to showcase this rising 27 year old star.
|Seamus Brett Accompanies Emmet Cahill|
They even challenged the audience to suggest six or seven songs which they would perform as unrehearsed requests and then extemporaneously they strung together a medley of those songs. One such request was “O Sole Mio." Enrico Caruso and Mario Lanza would have been proud, maybe envious, of Cahill’s rendition which demonstrated his classical vocal training at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin.
But Irish folk songs and liturgical hymns are not Cahill’s only strengths. He is equally comfortable with the Great American Songbook and Broadway. In fact he said that Rodgers and Hammerstein’s work is among his favorites and to illustrate, he delivered a rendition of “Some Enchanted Evening,” wringing out all the emotion and depth from that song. His rendition of “This is the Moment” from Jekyll and Hyde was thrilling. The nostalgic favorite “Moon River” was as beautiful as those Irish folk songs.
He said that among the songs he first sang on stage as a professional was “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables. He is much too young to play Jean Valjean, but you wouldn’t know it from his masterly performance. I’ve never been able to hear that song – or play it on the piano – without a tear in my eye, and his performance, with so much emotion, brought the house down with yet another standing ovation. Clearly, so much of this young man’s future might be directed into the oeuvre of Broadway and the Great American Songbook. He has the presence and that rare emotive gift for those songs, while never having to desert his unique Irish folk roots.
His YouTube performance of “Bring Him Home” from a 2015 USA tour when he was only 24 years old, clearly presages his brilliant future. We look forward to seeing him again, soon. Thank you Emmet!