Emmet Cahill isn’t your typical Irish tenor. The 26-year-old was born in the same decade the original singing trio first took the stage, he’s been known to belt out show tunes and movie hits, and he’s as fit as a fiddle.
But, tradition runs deep in the Irish blood and Cahill’s show next month at St. Matthias Anglican Church will be a return to his roots, in support of his debut solo album, Emmet Cahill’s Ireland. The son of a piano teacher father and a mother who sang, he grew up performing in churches in a family quintet with his brother and sister. A music scholarship in high school led to studying opera and classical music at the Royal Irish Academy of Music.
And then came the Celtic Thunder. “That was 6 years ago now and life hasn’t been the same since,” Cahill says on the line from Ireland. He’s just wrapped filming on a television special with Celtic Thunder, to air next March. Between that and recording the band’s 10th anniversary album, he’s managing to fit in rehearsals for his upcoming Canadian tour.
“For the past 2 years I’ve been balancing both of those,” he says of the band and his solo venture. “I like that it’s busy. The busier I am, the happier I am, really.”
WATCH: Cahill sends a message from home for fans in Victoria
But for this return to Victoria, it will be a more intimate affair. Cahill plans to pace the set with stories of how a boy from Mullingar, a small town in Ireland, came to tour North America where his career is gaining momentum.
“With the solo record I really wanted to establish myself in the Irish Tenor world,” he explains.
His audience is varied, everyone from 5 to 85 years old can be found singing along to “Danny Boy” and “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”. The goal with this album was to remind those who may remember the old Irish tenors that these songs are classics, while also bringing them to a younger generation.
He recognizes people have strong personal connections to these songs, and so does he. Passing them through generations is a powerful thing, he says, and creates a sense of nostalgia.
“I’m always learning and interested in human stories and people aren’t shy about sharing them with me and their connections to the music,” he says. He can often be found hanging around after his performances to chat with the audience. It’s a unique approach to reach his fans that he hopes sets his shows apart from others.
Cahill is looking forward to his only Island stop, he says he feels a real sense of history here. “Victoria is a beautiful city, with great architecture,” he says. “Last time I was here I went into a restaurant and the first person I met was a girl from Ireland.”
Emmet Cahill plays St. Matthias Anglican Church, Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m, and tickets are still available.