Michael Londra is one of Ireland’s favourite tenors. He has enjoyed success on stage in both Europe and America.
He has a busy year ahead as he has projects in the pipeline both on and off the stage.
The Wexford-born classical singer took a bit of time out to speak to Irish Music Daily about his upcoming projects.
Irish Music Daily: What projects are you working on at the moment? What can fans expect over the next few months?
Michael Londra: I guess I like to be busy, off stage as well as on stage. I am producing several projects from a one man show starring Irish singer Paddy Homan, celebrating 100 years of Irish independence call “I AM IRELAND” to a grand scale illusion and dance show called “ECLIPSE”. I am trying to find some studio time once I get back from work in Australia and Asia in the late spring as there is an album due. I know, I know!!! I have been remiss. Now that the book is done, it is time to get back to music.
IMD: Tell us about your book. What prompted you to write it and what would you say are the major points about your life that you want to get across to people?
ML: I just started to write down things over the past year or so. Overtime I would board a plane….which as you can imagine is a lot, I would write notes and I guess it all added up. I didn’t really do it to communicate a message. If it inspires people to believe in themselves then great. It was meant to be fun really and less about anything deep or meaningful. Maybe that just happened I guess. I was bullied big time as a kid and I touch on how that became a positive force. It drove me forward. The book is a success I guess with the first print selling out in a month.
IMD: You had a ‘regular job’ as a behaviour therapist and didn’t turn to music professionally until your thirties. Do you think makes you look at your musical career differently than if you’d always been a professional singer?
ML: Yes for sure. I had somewhat grown up and so had a different focus to my life. I understood the sacrifice more. I understood the business more. There were downsides too in that I didn’t have the drive or ambition necessary to get to the top. I was successful purely because of my work ethic. I’ve never been ambitious. I always just wanted to knuckle down and get on with the job which brings success in other ways. I wasn’t lucky really and that is needed. Some artists I know have had their career handed to them on a plate by someone else so it can create divas. That simply didn’t happen to me so I have maintained a realistic approach to showbiz. I am so grateful as there are some monsters out there.
IMD: Tell us about your role as a Wexford ambassador. What does it entail?
ML: I guess I have always been an unofficial one. I was approached three years ago along with Colm Toibin and Eoin Colfer and a few others to take on the role officially. I was thrilled to say the least. It really didn’t change what I do. I talk about my home in every show. I highlight what is great to see there and I now have been asked to host a trip which is proving to be very successful. We have fans from all over North America and Australia coming on a trip around Ireland but centred on a weekend in my hometown for a concert. This will be everything that Wexford is about.
IMD: A few general questions, do you have any hobbies and how do you like to relax when away from work?
ML: No. I am not a hobby kind of guy. I live for work. I like great restaurants. Nothing makes me happier than sitting over dinner with my closest friends who are scattered across the world. Luckily I travel so much I get to see a lot of them fairly often. I love great art so really enjoy a gallery or a museum. Any chance I can get to go to the theatre I do but I tend to be glued to things like how they produce the set rather than getting lost in the play itself. That is the downside of being in showbiz.
IMD: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
ML: SHOW UP and be easy to work with. It is the secret to success. Go for every opportunity, make every call, be there for that audition. Once you are in, you simply have to be a nice person. I always keep the ones who love the work and respect the people they work with. Look at my band. They are loyal, great to work with and bring the talent every time. That is why I use the same people all the time. That doesn’t always come with our profession. I have let artists go because of diva type behaviour. If it happens, they never get asked back to be a part of my shows. EVER! If you look back you can probably guess the artists I won’t work with again. They didn’t last long.
IMD: What if any, are your biggest regrets?
ML: Hiring divas in the first place, HA! No, I have none, honestly. At this age, you learn to have perspective. I have tried and failed MANY times but have learned great things from each failure and more than that, I found something newer and better because I failed. It is more lasting than a few Emmy nominations…..don’t get me wrong. They were great! Really Great.
IMD: What’s the best thing that ever happened to you?
ML: Meeting my partner 16 years ago, having my mother’s undying optimism and a bag of chips with curry sauce in Wexford after a few pints in Simon Lamberts, my local.
IMD: Back to music. What do you enjoy more? Recording in studio, performing live, songwriting…or something else?
ML: I love it all. I have to say though creating something in a studio is my favourite. You get to separate yourself from the world and emerge yourself into something beautiful. The creation itself doesn’t always come out good but being in that dark room at a microphone is a thrill. My favourite times though have been writing in Nashville with heroes of mine. What a joy that is. I connect with Nashville. I belong there. It is great to be in a place where everyone else accent is as strong as mine.
IMD: You also like to some producing. Do you have any new shows coming?
ML: Yes, I can’t really talk about it but I am working on a grand scale magic and dance show that has nothing to do with Celtic music so that is a new road for me. I am also working with the brilliant Paddy Homan, a singer who you may have heard of. I want theatres to hear his voice and witness his passion for Irish history. The piece we are creating celebrates 100 years of Irish independence and will be a learning experience and inspiring journey for North American audiences. I head down to Oz in April to work on Celtic Illusion with my pal Anthony Street who is crazy talented. I get to travel to work on the show and that is my favourite thing.
IMD: Tell us about Radiocelt. Why did you set that up and how is going?
ML: You know I don’t honestly know. I created that over ten years ago and it was very successful. However my singing and producing means that I really can’t be involved anymore. Accuradio run it and do a good job. I was delighted to get new artists up there online for the world to hear long before Spotify and all the other internet listening spots. I am proud of it.
IMD: What are your plans and ambitions over the next few years?
ML: Everyone knows that my favourite word is ADVENTURE. I don’t want to just be a singer, I don’t want to just produce. My heart will guide me. Sometimes that is not good for the wallet but I do what I want. I am fifty in April and I have never been happier so if I can continue to bring some joy to fans, if I can find new roads for me, if I can help young artists develop their craft and if I can see that my family and friends are happy, then I am happy. I have never had ambitions and still don’t. If my work brings a truck load of money, then great but if not, I am content. My mind overflows with ideas and I think if I can still do that and be healthy then I will live a long time. If you ever hear me say the word retire you know it is because someone else is forcing me.
Thanks to Michael for taking the time to answer our questions. We look forward to his shows in the next 12 months