"My life has taken so many unexpected turns," says Eamonn McCrystal, "I couldn't have planned it this way if I'd tried."
Indeed, the self-effacing young, Emmy® Award Winning, Irish pop tenor has, in a remarkably short time, built an impressive body of work that's earned him a devoted international audience. That loyal fan base has supported him through a diverse series of recording projects that have showcased his effortless charisma and his sublime interpretive gifts. Meanwhile, he's collaborated with a diverse array of artists, successfully branched out into acting, and conquered the airwaves with a landmark PBS TV concert special.
Eamonn McCrystal's unique talents are apparent throughout his new release, And So It Goes. Incredibly, it's the artist's tenth album, and in many ways, it's his most powerful. Recorded in Nashville, with McCrystal co-producing alongside Grammy® Award winning studio veteran Casey Wood, the dozen-song collection covers a good deal of musical and emotional ground, with the artist lending his voice to a heart-touching mix of material that encompasses romantic country-pop ("Stand A Little Rain") and intimate soul (Adele's "When We Were Young"), as well as personalized readings of such contemporary standards as Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now," Bob Seger's "We've Got Tonight" (performed as a duet with Chloë Agnew of Celtic Woman fame), Neil Sedaka's "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" and Randy Newman's "Feels Like Home."
The album closer and a focal point is the poignant "Pray for Peace" which features top-notch vocals from Rita Wilson (producer: My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Mama Mia) and Chloë Agnew (Celtic Woman). Co-written by Linda Thompson (Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Backstreet Boys) and multiple GMA Dove Award winner Bernie Herms, the stirring track is a timely call to action on an emotional and spiritual level. "From the first piano chord and the opening lyric of the verse, I instantly knew this was a special piece of music! That is a sensation that almost never happens," explains McCrystal. "We are at a point in time where this song and its' sentiment needs to be heard more than ever!"
McCrystal asserts that 'And So It Goes' is an album that he has wanted to make for a long time. "For years," he explains, "people have approached me and suggested that I should sing a particular song. Over time I kept a list of all that material and even incorporated some of that music into my live shows. For this album we decided to put them all together, add a couple of new ones and the album was born! They are all songs that I love and enjoy singing so it's very exciting that I've finally got them all together in this one project."
Growing up in Northern Ireland, Eamonn developed an expansive musical sensibility early in life, thanks to the eclectic tastes of his older siblings as well as the elderly residents of the nursing homes that his parents ran. In his teens, he considered joining the priesthood but was urged by the local cardinal to pursue a career in music. He made his radio debut at age nine, singing on BBC Radio Ulster, and gained some significant studio experience when he recorded his first of several independently released albums at the age of 12. Yet he held out little hope for a mainstream recording career and resigned himself to working behind the scenes, taking various jobs in concert production and media, including the BBC.
McCrystal's fortunes as a performer began to turn around when he met Elizabeth Travis, then the wife and manager of American country superstar Randy Travis, who was performing at a Belfast music festival where Eamonn was the stage manager. After hearing one of Eamonn's CDs, Ms. Travis signed on as his manager and brought him to Los Angeles, where he still resides.
McCrystal released his first American album, the country-flavored When In Nashville..., in 2011; the same year, he recorded a duet with Randy Travis on Travis' 25th Anniversary Celebration album. He also did an extensive tour of country-music venues, and made the first of several appearances on the 'Grand Ole Opry,' making him one of the few non-American artists to be embraced by that bastion of country music tradition.
"I'm not a country singer, so playing at state fairs and on the 'Grand Ole Opry' was very daunting," Eamonn notes "my background is in pop, jazz, and Broadway but I quickly realized that country music is all about songs from the heart. If you sing songs that you love, and in a sincere way, country audiences, in fact, all music fans will recognize that. One of my favorite quotes always rings true, 'To sing a wrong note is insignificant, but to sing without passion is unforgivable' -Beethoven."
In 2012, he released the single "Under Your Wings," written by Grammy® winner Walter Afanasieff. 2013 saw the release of his holiday-themed The Music of Christmas & the Stories Behind the Songs, an album of Christmas songs produced by Nigel Wright. In 2014, he released A Living Prayer, which combined traditional hymns with a spiritually oriented contemporary theme. He followed that effort with the secular album Where Does the Time Go?
Eamonn achieved a crucial breakthrough in 2015 with the television concert special The Music of Northern Ireland, recorded by the BBC in concert at Belfast's Grand Opera House and broadcast on PBS TV stations in North America. The show won four Emmy® Awards, including: Best Arts/Entertainment Special with McCrystal winning two, one for Best On-Camera Talent and the other for his role as Producer.
In 2014, McCrystal made his film debut in Big Stone Gap, alongside Ashley Judd, Patrick Wilson, and Whoopi Goldberg. He's also appeared in God's Not Dead 2 with Melissa Joan Hart, Jessie Metcalfe, and Ray Wise. Eamonn recently guest-starred in an episode of the TV sitcom Hitting the Breaks, with Rob Schneider and Burt Reynolds.
"Acting wasn't something that had ever crossed my mind," Eamonn admits. "But when I tried it, it seemed to come quite naturally. I don't see it as a significant change from music. Music is all about storytelling, and so I approach acting in the same way."
"For me, music is about emotion," he concludes, "and I'll only sing a song if I think I can bring something of myself to it. My fan base has been fantastic, and they've stuck with me through all the many projects! They've been with me through this entire journey, and so I owe it to them to put as much of myself into the music as I can."