Well it certainly feels a million years since sitting down to do a blog, and for that I'm sorry. I suppose the best and only excuse I can give is that the past three months in particular have been the busiest I have ever had. For that, I am not complaining. Its hard to know how far to go back, so I will just do a recap since hitting 2013.
Christmas and the New Year was celebrated in my new home, New York. Dominique had all her family, bar one sister visit for the holiday season. This as you can imagine was a lot of fun. Although I didnt get home to see my family, and I missed them terribly, I am very fortunate to get on so well with Dom's family. This I suppose is a blessing considering they are stuck with me for the rest of my life, and I, them! We did all the top things "to do" during the Christmas period. Mass in St.Patricks Cathedral with Cardinal Dolan, ice skating,drinks at the Plaza then the big dinner followed up with a sing song!! All in all, a fantastic New York Christmas. Next Christmas,will be with with my Mom, sister and family! So I am already looking forward to that!
In January, we headed to Florida to board The Phil Coulter, Tranquility Cruise with Holland America and Travel Concepts. This was the 5th time I had the honour of guesting with Phil on the cruise. Each year I say, "that was the best one" and then the next one tops it. Im not sure how we will top this one. I suppose the best way is to do it all again next January!! I think whats works so well on Phil's cruise is that there is a nice size number in attendance, and that over the course of the 10 days, we as performers get to know the cruisers well and they get to know us too. We all become friends and share many good laughs. Generally at my expense!!!! I am always excited when asked to do it and look forward to doing the next one with Phil and Damian this January. Here's to the 39 club!! (cruisers will get that!)
When I got back from the Caribbean, its was head down and full focus on the upcoming months. Tied in of course with some much needed dieting and detoxing!! The goal aside from a few gigs splattered out here and there, was to get ready for the biggest event in my career to date. My very own TV Special! This of course has been in motion for a while now, and a dream for a VERY long while!
All made possible by truly the best fans in the world. After months of fundraising and seeking investment, it was a touch away.
Part of that was secured by a group of ladies in St.Louis who put together a private concert for 40 of their friends. When I heard it was something that was going to happen I was thrilled. I had never done the like before. So I was all set to head to St.Louis when all of a sudden I hear there is a huge snow storm coming to New York and that my flight out was going to be cancelled. I didnt know what to do. I knew that of the 40, some had travelled the length of the country to be there. Two had even come from Australia! Therefore I couldnt postpone. So I left on the Thursday for D.C by train, and from there I caught a flight to St.Louis. The concert was held in a beautiful family home, and the warmth of which I was received was overwhelming. We had great fun over the 2 and a half hours. Music, chats and lots of laughs. A night I will never forget. Well worth the journey for me. I hope so too for the 40 who came to it!
All of a sudden its March and the show and filming is penciled in for the 20th. Phil Coulter had kindly agreed to be the musical director, and my long time friend and producer Joe Csibi was on board to help too.Damian McGinty was coming in from LA to do a guest spot, and then Janine Divita was coming from Broadway to also appear. A really strong team!
We were all set for the shoot at the State Theatre, PA with my orchestra when almost at the last minute we fell short on some of the money. It was all about to be pulled when very kindly, a donor stepped up to the plate from wonderful Canada. The country I want to perform in more. I couldn't believe it. So strong was their will for me to do well and build my career that they were willing to step up to the plate. Help out and give me the shot at the dream. I will be forever grateful to all who donated. Not just because of money, but for the fact that it was there for all to see, that I had a huge army of well wishers behind me. When things are bleak, as often they seem, I will always know that I have many behind me. Rooting for me. You cant put a price on that.
On the 16th Damian arrived into NYC so that we could have a couple of days rehearsing our "routine". Needless to say neither of us can be classed as dancers, but we worked hard, and I believe it worked out very well on the night. The reaction he got when he came on the stage was incredible, and rightly deserved. For a friend to come on board and work as hard as he did for a friend, says a lot about him as a person. At this point, Ive run out of words for that kid.
When we arrived on the 18th in PA to base camp for the following few days, it was snowing, and I was worried that my director Brent Carpenter and crew would struggle to get in from LA. I went straight to see the theatre, and Susan Rose, my lighting designer and genius was already at work! I was stumped. The stage, lighting and venue was mind blowing. More than I had ever dreamed off. This was going to be bigger than I hoped. That feeling of having a dream unfurl in front of your eyes was emotional. It was becoming real.
The next day started early with rehearsals with my orchestra. It was going to be a long day as everything needed to be rehearsed at least twice! They were a fantastic group of musicians and very obliging. After 8 hours, we called it a day.
Then before we knew it, it was March 20. D Day!
I had breakfast with Phil and Dominique, talked over cues with him (which of course went out the window as soon as I went live!) and then went to the theatre to get ready for dress rehearsal. Hair done, make up on, now it was time! All of this was going to be 100% live, so there was a lot of pressure. After years of wanting it, now was the time to prove I could do it! There was one or two hiccups but I didnt worry as that is normal in theatre. "A bad dress, is a great show". I kept telling myself that!
After an hour or so of pre recording pledges for PBS, I grabbed some food and then started to focus on the main event. 1500 theatre full of people there to see what this was all about.
I stood side stage as Phil warmed up the crowd. The reaction was immense. Hairs were standing all over my body....and I have a few!! Nerves kicked in. Thoughts of mom, and the family were running through my head. Grandma praying it would all go well, and grandads mass card in my breast pocket, as is always the case during a performance.
The music started and I began to sing with a lump in my throat off stage. When I walked on, I can honestly say, I have NEVER got a reaction like it. Everyone was on their feet and ready for a great night. I was so stumped Im not sure what came out of my mouth for the first line.
The show ran longer than most,but that is to be expected with a filming. That being said, I didn't feel like it was running late. There were many special moments throughout it. From the opening moments to when Damian walked out and got a huge ovation, to the tender moment where Phil sat at the piano and accompanied me to Scorn Not His Simplicity. A moment that took him on the hop. The reaction to his most personal of songs was overwhelming. Like a Tsunami, the applause just kept coming. Then of course to have the beautiful and talented Janine Divita join me also added so much.
There were many tears, many laughs and many memories. Then all of a sudden, it was over. In the past!
After, I felt I had gone twelve rounds with Mike Tyson. Shattered. Feet throbbing, voice tired and body needing a bed. The sense of achievement was thrilling, and to be surrounded by so many who loved me
was the icing on the cake. There will be many specials on tv over the next while that will have bigger budgets and bigger stars, but I genuinely feel, you will never see a show with so much heart and feeling, from ALL involved. A truly special moment in my life.
The following night I went out for dinner with Damian and Phil in NY. It was a great night of just sitting around and talking about everything and anything. Until the early hours of the morning when I was bent over the white phone to God asking WWHHHHHHHHYYYYY???!!!! It seems I shouldn't of had the chicken tenders. Both Damian and Phil were perfectly fine, so I knew thats what it was.
The next 48 hrs were truly horrific. All ahead of my next gig in Natick, MA. I took the train and had the sweats and cold shivers all the way. I slept like a baby when I finally got to the hotel and hoped I would be fine for the concert. I was....just about.
Since then Ive been coming back to normal. Catching up on life, as work was all consuming. I was without question a nightmare to live with, and for that I will always be grateful to my lady Dominique. She was so supportive and understanding. Not many would put up with a singer, and Dom does it so effortlessly. I am truly blessed to have her in my life....for the rest of my life!!
Last weekend I got invited to sing again for the Boston Celtics. Its always such an honour for me. I truly love singing the National Anthem of any country. The Star Spangled Banner is such a beautiful song and one I will always take great pride singing. The crowd in the TD Garden are always so appreciative and vocal, that you rarely leave the court feeling anything but electric.
On Saturday, myself and a couple of friends went skiing for the day, whilst Dom went for lunch and shopping with her friends. We got together again for dinner some wine and an open fire. Great food and great company os hard to find, and whenever we go to Boston, we are right in the throws of it. We really feel those in Boston are our second family.
Naturally it felt right then to spend Easter Sunday with them, and I even went out front to play street hockey with the kids. Me being the biggest one! Needless to say, when the ball came to the Irish guy, the kids knew to duck. Between the swing of the stick and the direction of the ball, I was a thing of nightmares. Great fun none the less.
Anyway, aside from a head cold, I am feeling great. Feeling happy and excited about what the future holds for me both professionally and personally. We are in the depths of preparing for our wedding, and that takes a lot I am discovering. So much for just turning up on the day!
Life is good, and sometimes its important to tell yourself that when things are going well. We all face tough times in life. No one escapes that. However the character and strength we show through those times stands to us. It also makes us appreciate the good times even better.
Thank you all for your continued support and belief. I wouldn't be where I am without you. I will always be grateful
Keep well and roll on the Summer!!!
Love you all