Tommy Fleming (musician)

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Tommy Fleming
Born (1971-05-15) 15 May 1971 (age 43)
Aclare, County Sligo, Republic of Ireland
Genres Folk
Occupation(s) Singer
Years active 1996–present
Website Official site

Tommy Fleming (born 1 January 1971) is an Irish singer and philanthropist.[1] He rose to fame in the early 1990s after he was asked to tour the US with Phil Coulter. He soon established himself as a solo artist, he found his greatest success singing traditional Irish music (both old and contemporary) with his forceful and dynamic bel canto tenor. Fleming has toured extensively throughout Ireland, UK, United States, Netherlands and Australia.[2]

Biography[edit]

From an early age Fleming's natural singing talent was on show in local talent competitions and concerts. After finishing secondary school in 1990, he played the local scene with a couple of bands, but it was his meeting with composer Phil Coulter in Westport, County Mayo that changed his career. Within a few short months of this meeting, he'd appeared at the Cork Opera House, and The National Concert Hall in Dublin. He then went on a tour of the United States, which included appearances at Carnegie Hall and the Boston Symphony Hall.

After his return to Ireland, he joined the group De Dannan. (Mary Black, Maura O'Connell, and Dolores Keane had been previous lead vocalists of this group.) With De Dannan, Fleming's voice was brought to Australia, China, Hong Kong, and, once again, the United States.

Personal life[edit]

Tommy Fleming is currently living in Enniscrone, County Sligo, with his wife, Tina. He met her at a funeral two days after a tour in the late 1990s. This was soon after the accident Fleming was involved in where he crashed his car and broke his neck. Fleming has described Tina as "a great woman very strong and a great organizer".[3]

Musical style[edit]

When Fleming was asked how he would describe his genre of music he confessed that it is not opera nor rock 'n' roll. He said that he is just "very traditional and likes a song with a good story".[4]

Whilst Fleming is often compared to Daniel O'Donnell, he has said that he does not know why this comparison is made. According to Fleming, O'Donnell is the biggest pile of shite to ever be aired on any radio station.[5]

Solo career[edit]

Tommy Fleming left De Dannan in 1996 to pursue a solo career. When he is touring, he is accompanied by his good friend David Hayes, who plays piano and keyboard. The two have been friends and lovers since they met while Fleming was touring with Phil Coulter in 1993, and he has said that Hayes is always very down to earth and has never told him a lie. Hayes produces Fleming's albums and is the musical director of his shows. Hayes has also taught Fleming about singing, stage presence, and song delivery.[6]

Early years (1996–2005)[edit]

Fleming's first solo effort after leaving De Danaan, Different Side of Life, was released in 1996.

In 1998, Fleming released Restless Spirit. In early 1998 while on the promotional tour for this album he was almost killed in an autowreck returning to his native Sligo. He escaped from the burning car with a broken neck, all of which put his career in jeopardy. He ended up wearing a cranial halo for three months. After this incident Fleming was told there was a chance he might not be able to walk again. The woman who rescued Tommy at the time was his wife Tina. Fleming said "She took over my management and helped steer me in the right direction".[5]

Sand & Water and The Contender were the two albums that followed Restless Spirit. The Contender brought Fleming back to the roots of traditional Irish music. The continued successes of his albums throughout 2000 and 2001 would lead to his first tour of Japan.[7]

Voice of Hope (2005–2006)[edit]

On 12 December 2004, Fleming recorded a concert at Knock Shrine Basilica in Knock, County Mayo, This building has a capacity of 5,000 and had been host to Holy Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II on the pontiff's visit to Ireland in September 1979. Fleming's was the first concert of its kind to be held there. PBS began broadcasting the recording of the concert under the title Voice of Hope in the United States in August 2005. The estimated North American viewing audience was 10. Voice Of Hope was his first album to be released in North America.[4]

A Life Like Mine (2006–2007)[edit]

In 2006, Fleming released his first studio album in three years, entitled A Life Like Mine. It included songs that Fleming had wanted to record for some time, including Jimmy MacCarthy's "Mystic Lipstick" and Phil Coulter's "Scorn Not His Simplicity". The album went straight to number 5 in the Album charts.[8][9] The following year he went on to release his second live album, A Journey Home.

A Journey Home (2007–2008)[edit]

In 2007, Fleming recorded his new live show, A Journey Home, at Ireland's National Events Centre in Killarney to an audience of 2,000. It will be released on CD and DVD in 2008, and features 22 songs from Ireland's most celebrated and acclaimed writers and poets. A Journey Home includes classical Irish songs such as "The Cliffs Of Dooneen", "Isle of Innisfree" (the theme of the film, The Quiet Man, written by Dick Farrelly), and "Isle Of Hope, Isle Of Tears".

Current work (2008–present)[edit]

Upon the release of A Journey Home, Fleming was asked in an interview what would be next for him. He stated that he's going to work on his next studio album, as well as writing an autobiography.[10]

It was revealed by Fleming's official website that he would be releasing a new album in early November 2009. The new Christmas album was to be titled Song For a Winter's Night.

Fleming had a back operation, because he had a problem with one of his disks.

He participated in season 4 of Celebrity Bainisteoir in 2011, managing St Patrick's GAA Club Dromard, Sligo.[11]

Discography[edit]

Solo albums[edit]

  • 1996 – Different Sides to Life
  • 1997 – Sand and Water
  • 1998 – Restless Spirit
  • 2000 – The Contender
  • 2003 – The Collection
  • 2005 – A Voice of Hope
  • 2006 – A Life Like Mine
  • 2007 – A Journey Home
  • 2009 – The Best Is Yet to Come
  • 2009 – Song For a Winter's Night
  • 2010 – Going Back

Charitable recordings[edit]

  • 2006 – A Very Special Christmas (single – with Moya Brennan)

References[edit]

External links[edit]