Former Celtic Thunder tenor Paul Byrom gets back to his Irish roots The Swanky Tenor
By John Benson
Over the past four years, Ireland’s Paul Byrom, known as the Swanky Tenor, has been trying to distance himself from his previous international touring group Celtic Thunder.
That was the intention behind his pop-based 2011 solo effort “This Is the Moment.”
However, the singer recently decided it was high time to embrace his roots with brand-new studio album “Thinking of Home,” which found Byrom, well, returning home to a familiar Celtic sound and style.
“I had thought about doing this album for a long time,” said Byrom, calling from New York City. “I had avoided doing Irish material because I just didn’t want to be seen as another Irish tenor. Eventually, I gave in and I said, ‘I’ll do an album of some of the songs that I truly love that haven’t been done in quite some time.’ So it’s genuinely a very Irish album.”
That list includes Irish tunes such as “The Croppy Boy” and “The Minstrel Boy,” as well as the obscure Garth Brooks song “Ireland,” which Byrom said was previously unrecorded.
Often called one of Ireland’s premier tenors, the Dublin-born singer started taking vocal lessons early in life. By the time he was 12, Byrom became a professional singer when he was cast in his first opera with the National Concert Orchestra of Ireland.
The boy soprano followed up his aptly titled debut “The Golden Voice” with his sophomore effort “Velvet,” which reached No. 2 in the Irish music charts. This led to many appearances on Irish television and radio.
It was a few years later when Celtic Thunder, featuring talented soloists, was formed and quickly became a touring attraction in the states. However, Byrom left the outfit four years ago to return to his solo career.
He said even though some fans were unhappy about his departure, he never signed up for the long haul.
“When I joined Celtic Thunder I had been in the business for a good number of years as a solo performer,” Byrom said. “So I was reluctant to join Celtic Thunder. When they explained it was five soloists coming together to put on a show as opposed to a group, I said I was interested but eventually I would want to return to my solo work because that’s inevitably what I’ve always done and wanted to return to.
“So it was only a matter of time. I stayed with Celtic Thunder for four years and I probably was ready to go after three.”
Now Byrom is hoping to keep the career momentum going in the states with his solo career. The singer returns to Northeast Ohio for a Sept. 18 show at Packard Music Hall.
Invariably, despite his best efforts, Byrom is still viewed as a Celtic artist, which he understands will inherently pigeonhole him in the states. That said, he does dream about pop success.
“‘This Is the Moment’ charted No. 1 on the world billboard charts,” Byrom said. “I would have liked to make an impact on the mainstream charts but that takes time. So, yes, there’s a possibility of that. There’s a dream of that I suppose, but fundamentally if I’m singing a variety of stuff and paying the bills, then I’m happy.”
He added, “You don’t measure success by chart success, I never have and I never will.”