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Dermot Kennedy On World Cafe

Dermot Kennedy
Jack McKain
Courtesy of the artist
Dermot Kennedy

Today's guest made me cry in a church and I'll never forgive him. Dermot Kennedy was performing a showcase for SXSW. It was super dark, Kennedy was standing up there at the altar wearing this black sweatshirt and holding a guitar, and from the moment he opened his mouth, it was like hearing someone drag their own heart through their vocal cords and send it right up to the heavens: relentless emotion. It was like time stopped.

After his set, the lights came on and I started talking to people, milling around as you do at a show. It wasn't until I went to the bathroom that I noticed I had mascara all over my face.

Kennedy is a 2018 NPR Music Slingshot artist. He's from Rathcoole, Ireland, just outside Dublin, and takes inspiration from a lot of wonderful Irish songwriters including Glen Hansard, who Kennedy once muscled his way through a crowd to perform alongside. Hansard remembered Kennedy and offered him some time on stage at one of his shows years later, a generous and supportive gesture the likes of which Kennedy has experienced from other Irish artists, too.

Kennedy explains how hip-hop worked its way into his sound (his latest EP was produced by Kanye West's go-to guy, Mike Dean) and the surprising similarities hip-hop shares with Irish folk. And Dermot performs live, so break out the tissues if you listen in the player.

Copyright 2018 XPN

Talia Schlanger hosts World Cafe, which is distributed by NPR and produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. She got her start in broadcasting at the CBC, Canada's national public broadcaster. She hosted CBC Radio 2 Weekend Mornings on radio and was the on-camera host for two seasons of the television series CBC Music: Backstage, as well as several prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor. Schlanger also guest hosted various flagship shows on CBC Radio One, including As It Happens, Day 6 and Because News. Schlanger also won a Canadian Screen Award as a producer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip.