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A member of the world-renowned Irish Tenors is coming to the Kimball Theatre to perform a solo concert Nov. 13.
Anthony Kearns got his start in 1993, when he won a singing contest in Dublin. The competition, called “Ireland’s Search for a Tenor,” was part of a promotion run through the national radio station in conjunction with the country’s release of a new 10-pound note, colloquially known as a “ten-er.”
At 23, and with no formal singing training, Kearns decided to participate in the contest’s first round, which took place on the radio.
“You can imagine the challenge of calling in and singing over the line,” Kearns said.
He progressed through the contest from there and eventually took home the title, setting him on a course for stardom that he never could have imagined.
“It gathered momentum rather quickly,” said Kearns of his career trajectory.
In 1998 Kearns, received the call to come on board as one of the original members of the PBS singing group the Irish Tenors, at which point he recalls being told that his “life was about to change” in a big way.
The group, which has since recorded five PBS specials and produced 10 albums, was met with popular and critical acclaim.
“It was just mad,” Kearns said of playing sold-out stadiums backed by a full 46-piece orchestra. “There was big staging, big lighting – one never gets bored with it.”
Since he made his name, Kearns has had the opportunity to perform around the world. He has given concerts for the past three U.S. presidents, and he even performed for Pope Francis on his recent visit to Philadelphia.
Though Kearns still performs with the Irish Tenors, he has also developed a robust solo career, which he feels is a nice contrast to the larger-than-life nature of performing as a member of the group.
“I love the intimacy of the solo shows,” Kearns said.
Kearns last performed at the Kimball several years ago, and has also played at other local venues like St. Bede Catholic Church.
“[Williamsburg] is a really nice place, especially this time of year,” Kearns said of his desire to return to the area. “It’s a beautiful town and I have some fond friends there – and it’s a place where people appreciate music.”
The solo shows, in which Kearns is accompanied only by a piano, offer a range of musical styles from Irish folk songs to operatic arias. The only criterion for inclusion is Kearns has to like the song himself.
“Variety is the key, it’s the spice of life,” Kearns said. “Some of the songs are comedic, some are sad. It’s a roller coaster of emotion.”
Kearns likens his style to the low-key parlor performances of old, a dying art form he hopes to reintroduce to people.
“Fans of the show Downton Abbey may be familiar. The idea of going into the drawing room to hear the singer of the day,” Kearns said.
The Kimball Theatre is the perfect venue for such a show, Kearns said.
“If you want to hear a good tenor singing, in the raw and without all the bells and trimmings, this is the show,” Kearns said.
This concert will begin at 7:30 Friday, Nov. 13. Tickets are $35 per person and can be purchased here.