At last year’s Ohana Festival, many music fans were introduced to Dermot Kennedy. Ohana’s organizer – that kind of famous musician, Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam – has always had a knack for getting talented artists at the annual gig before they become a household name. Kennedy put on an amazing performance and is indeed holding up the tradition of skyrocketing to fame in the US.
Hailing all the way from Ireland, Dermot Kennedy wowed the Ohana crowd and instantly gained new fans, myself included. I was especially struck by a song entitled “Something to Someone” and felt it so deeply.
The singer – who does not talk for the 24 hours before his live shows – recently told GQ about his early days of busking in Dublin: “People think being on tour is a grind. Busking’s a grind. Have you ever lugged a trolley full of gear through Temple Bar? That’s difficult.”
Kennedy would perform on the streets (aka busking) and deliver his material to record labels, hoping for an in. While it does seem like he had overnight success in the US, it has taken more than a decade to get there. “I’m told so many times that we’ve done this ‘the old-fashioned way’ in the sense that we’ve hit the road and toured until we got to this level,” he explained. “We’ve built it quietly. Even now, it still feels like the beginning.”
After seeing live performances from other singer songwriters as a teen, Kennedy decided he wanted to follow that path as well. He studied classical music at university, but dropped out to busk on the streets of Dublin.
A chance encounter with Simon Cowell earned him an invitation to “Britain’s Got Talent,” yet Kennedy declined – he wanted to play his own music, not cover other people’s. Eventually his song “An Evening I Will Not Forget” landed on Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist and Kennedy found himself with streams and shows aplenty. He even toured the US and had stops and Lollapalooza, Coachella, and Bonnaroo.
His 2019 debut album reached number one in the UK, Scotland, and Ireland, bolstered by the singles “Moments Passed,” “Power Over Me,” “Lost,” “Outnumbered,” and the extremely popular “Giants.”
Now with his second album, “Sonder,” Kennedy is once again topping the charts and ready to conquer North America. I mean… he’s playing Madison Square Garden! With “Better Days,” “Kiss Me,” “One Life,” and the previously mentioned “Something to Someone,” “Sonder” hit number one in Ireland, Scotland, and the UK again.
May 12, 2023
Kennedy is kicking off his North American tour this weekend and has a stop at the YouTube theater in Los Angeles on May 12th. The tour will keep him on the road until June, and then he will head back to Ireland. If you want to experience heartfelt lyrics with mesmerizing, raspy vocals, grab your tickets now.