Live Webcast Nov. 6, 2002, 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT
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"Legend" is not a title John McDermott would readily embrace, but his accomplishments have indeed become legendary in recording industry lore. McDermott calls Toronto and Boston home, but he has also found a home as an international recording star, and is known as much for his successful musical career as for his campaigning for veterans' causes.
The ninth of 12 children from a traditional Glasgow Irish family who emigrated from Scotland to Canada in the 1960s, McDermott's musical roots are equal parts Scottish and Irish.
McDermott was discovered quite by chance, when toiling away as a circulation sales representative for the Toronto Sun, he belted out an impromptu rendition of "Danny Boy" at a company party. Executives in attendance at the party helped fund McDermott's first album, Danny Boy, originally recorded as a personal 50th anniversary tribute for his parents. The album eventually found its way into the hands of EMI Music Canada.
The outcome of that fateful performance has catapulted him into a musical career that, not even 10 years later, includes nine full-length albums, three Canadian platinum records, five Juno nominations (Canada's equivalent of the Grammy) and a solid international touring schedule.
McDermott's songs showcase his innate understanding and facility with traditional folk melodies as well as more contemporary stylings. He is a new generation of musical storyteller in the great Celtic tradition, somehow combining the majesty of legendary Irish tenor John McCormack, the lyrical sense of Robbie Burns, the charm of Dean Martin, and the everyman quality of Pete Seeger. Underneath it all is the driving desire to chronicle the many facets of universal human experience.
McDermott's success has provided him with the ability to express his commitment to veterans' causes, which have always occupied a central place in his life and been an important theme in his music. In recognition of this commitment, McDermott was awarded one of the United States' highest accolades: the Congressional Medal of Honor Society's "Bob Hope Award."
Especially important to McDermott are the legions of homeless veterans in big cities and small towns from coast to coast. His concern is borne out through innovative projects such as McDermott House, a transitional housing cooperative for veterans in Washington, D.C., and more recently, the Hope McDermott Day Program Center in Boston, Mass.
Official John McDermott Web site