An Irish singer-songwriter is taking on the U.K. and the Unites States with his chart-topping first album and is selling out shows across the nation.
Born and raised in Dublin, 28-year-old Dermot Kennedy knew from a young age that music was his passion.
“I remember years and years ago, it was probably around 3 a.m., and I heard a man playing,” said Kennedy. “I decided then and there that I wanted to sing to people like that.”
Kennedy started playing the guitar at 10 years old and began to write his own songs at 14. By the time he was 17 years old, Kennedy started playing open mics in Dublin, and eventually started his own band in college. He also made a strong following busking on the streets
Since then, Kennedy has been selling out venues in the U.K. as well as the United States.
“I’ve never lost my love for storytelling,” said Kennedy, who cites Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, as well as songwriters David Gray and Glen Hasard as his influences.
Kennedy released his debut album, “Without Fear,” in 2019. According to Kennedy, the album draws on his own experiences in life.
“The main message that I wanted to get across in the album was the fact that life is so fragile and short — it’s on us to live a certain way,” said Kennedy. “It’s on us to live without fear of being hurt or wrong, you live the best way you can live. That’s what I was reminding myself to do with this album.”
“Without Fear” ended up exploding on the charts in U.K.; it shot right up to the top of the Official U.K. Album Chart — which knocked The Beatles’ Abbey Road to #2 — and also reached #18 on the Official US Billboard Top 200 Album Chart.
“That was huge for me, especially as an Irish artist, said Kennedy. “It’s been at least 20 years since that happened. As an Irish person, it can be a tough market to break into in the U.K. It meant an awful lot to get the #1 spot based on fans buying the album.”
Kennedy is currently on his fifth tour in the U.S. Having toured in the U.S and the U.K., Kennedy says that there are some noticeable differences between the two nations when it comes to the crowd, particularly when it comes to attentiveness.
“The crowds are very different,” said Kennedy. “In the United States, there’s a lovely mix of excitement and reverence. At some shows, it could go over the top where people aren’t paying attention, but here I’ve found that the crowd has a great mix of being excited while paying attention to the show.”
On March 5, Kennedy is playing his first show at Radio City Music Hall, which is completely sold out. While Kennedy has played many great shows in America and loves playing in many cities, New York has a special place in his heart.
“You can have good gigs anywhere, but New York is a special show,” said Kennedy. “I like to spend time in the city. Last fall I played a show at the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn and it was incredible.”
As for what’s next for Kennedy, a new album is on the horizon, but he’s taking his time.
“We’ve got plenty of shows coming up, I want to get into the studio and start putting a second album together,” said Kennedy. “I’m definitely in the beginning stages of that, so I’m not in a hurry.”
For more information on tour dates, visit dermotkennedy.com.