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story.lead_photo.caption "Music is such a powerful thing," says Irish singer Eamonn McCrystal. "It's like a smell; it brings you back to the first time you heard it and gives you that emotion." McCrystal will perform Thursday at the Walton Arts Center with Celtic Woman member Chloe Agnew.

Irish singer Eamonn McCrystal is crisscrossing the country right now with Chloe Agnew -- a member of the Celtic Woman ensemble -- to play 15 cities in 18 days. But it's not 15 shows of Celtic music. The duo will perform Christmas songs, some songs from McCrystal's latest album and a few tunes audiences may not realize have Irish roots.

"There's huge variety in the show. They keep telling me I have too much music," McCrystal says, laughing. "We sing songs... from the classic American song book ... that people might not know are from Ireland, and we share the stories behind that."

FAQ

Eamonn McCrystal

& Chloe Agnew

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. Thursday

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $40-$50

INFO — waltonartscenter.org

McCrystal says it is often difficult to pair his high tenor voice with a female's, but the pairing with Agnew has clicked beautifully. Agnew also joins McCrystal for two tracks on his 10th album, "And So It Goes," released Nov. 4 -- "Pray for Peace" and "We've Got Tonight," made famous by Bob Seger. In fact, all but two of the songs on his latest album are covers. McCrystal says he chose to record songs by Neil Sedaka, Adele, Sara Bareilles, Joni Mitchell and others for one very simple reason: The fans wanted to hear them.

"These are songs that over the years fans have come up to me and said, 'Oh, I'd love to hear you sing insert-song-here,'" McCrystal says. "Every song on the album has a story like that. People have really decided the songs, and it turned out to be a love album, which is funny."

On the daunting task of bringing something new to beloved songs by so many well-known artists, McCrystal says using all live instruments added to the authenticity of the tracks and allowed the musicians to bring a warmer, almost improvised sound to the tunes. And to keep the feel of the album genuine, McCrystal only chose songs from his running list of suggestions he felt he could bring his own experience to.

"Sometimes we love to listen and sing along [to a song] but then we listen to the lyrics and go, 'Oh, this song doesn't apply to me at all,'" he says. "I read the lyrics in some quiet reflection time [to figure out] can I bring some experience to them? If you sing out of tune, that's forgivable, but if you sing without passion, that's not. So that's what I try to bring to the songs."

-- Jocelyn Murphy

jmurphy@nwadg.com

NAN What's Up on 12/02/2016

Print Headline: Fans Asked, He Sang

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