Ireland in My Heart
You're probably wondering why a guy with a Polish name like mine has made an Irish album. The truth is that there is just something very special about this music that reaches down deep into my soul. I really don't know why, but these songs do it. I thought you might like to know how it all started. Ever since I was a kid I loved to sing. As a boy, my uncle Ed taught me how to yodel and sing cowboy songs with him on stage as early as kindergarten. It was later in high school, while singing a principal role in the operetta, The Student Prince, that I really began to fall in love with the magic of the voice itself. I listened to operas for hours and learned many of the tenor arias. Life went along and one day I saw an ad in the newspaper for a concert in New Hampshire given by the late Irish tenor, Frank Patterson. Something moved me to go and hear him sing. That's when my love for Irish ballads started and Frank's beautiful way of singing them. While attending many more of his concerts, I personally spoke to Frank and his wife, Eily, backstage each time and got to know them more and more. His words to me and his records kept inspiring me along. The seeds started to grow. I knew I could sing like that too. In the summer of 1999 I had a wonderful opportunity to sing on tour in Ireland as a guest of the Rosita Lee Music School. This experience brought me even closer to Irish music and it's people. A couple of years later I decided to perform my first Irish show for St. Patrick's Day, and I have been doing it each year ever since. The Irish music world was saddened when Frank Patterson died in June of 2000. When his home town of Clonmel, Tipperary, organized a memorial tribute to him in 2002, my wife, Diane, and I decided to go. I had the fortune of not only meeting Frank's family, his mother, brothers, sisters, and his wife, Eily, but I also had the honor of singing to them all at his memorial banquet. This was such a wonderful and inspiring moment for me. Before all this, another powerful event in my life was the death of my daughter Nancy in 1994. Singing became even more important for me as a way to express my deep feelings of grief and love. I can truly testify to the healing power of music. A few years later, I started singing at my own benefit concerts for the Nancy O Fund, a memorial fund created to honor her memory. Nancy was such multi-talented performer - dancer, singer, musician, who shared her talents in so many ways, especially with little children. The Nancy O Fund, now part of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, provides opportunities for needy children to experience the joys and wonders of the Performing Arts. Nancy will live on forever in my music. My love for singing Irish songs and honoring the memory of Nancy were now combined. And now about this CD... I met Jerry Ganiel and his wife Miriam in the summer of 1999, while my wife and I were visiting the Weston Priory in Weston, Vermont. Jerry is a consummate musician, arranger, conductor, and pianist. He and I made lots of music together at the inn and we quickly became close friends. When his group went in 2001 to the International Church Music Festival in Bern, Switzerland, Jerry invited me to come along. A couple of years later, I asked Jerry to play for me at my Irish show in New Hampshire. It was then I expressed a desire to make a CD. Jerry encouraged me and offered to help me produce it. Well, after several trips down to his home in Missouri and many hours in the recording studio, and many more hours of Jerry's musical magic, my dream was born. I believe that if we continue to dream and stay true to what we are called to be, life will provide the people and opportunities to cross our paths. All we have to do is to allow ourselves to flow with them. The Spirit takes care of the rest. I hope you enjoy this music as much as I have enjoyed singing it. My story will continue, I'm sure, as I am led into the mystery and wonder of song. ---johno.