A well-known name in Irish music, singer Andy Cooney has taken his talents and love for the Emerald Isle and turned it into a fast-paced and fiercely passionate career.
One of nine children born into a deeply rooted Irish-American family, Cooney began singing Irish songs at a young age, under the direction of his Dublin-born grandfather, Andy Feehan. The Massapequa Park native furthered his love of music by performing at family and church gatherings.
“My grandfather was an Irish tenor and we grew up with music in our house and kept all of the traditions in the family,” said Cooney who is Irish on both sides of his family. “He was my biggest influence. My mom would write out the words to the songs he sang so I would always have them.”
Cooney’s professional career began at the age of 17, when he appeared in many well-known Irish establishments in the New York area, showcasing his voice and piano playing. In 1994, Cooney embarked on his own, and has never looked back.
“I was born in Massapequa Park and have no reason to leave it. Massapequa is a great place to grow up and live,” said Cooney, who is often away from home traveling. He even spent the 1990s in Nashville as a writer, studying his passion for country music.
“Country music goes hand in hand with Irish music. They’re both about having a good time,” he said. “My favorite song—and it’s hard to have a favorite as a singer—is “Danny Boy.” It’s one of the songs I never get tired of singing. Irish songs have a lot of melody to them, which makes them nice for a singer to sing.
Cooney’s upcoming concert on March 16 at 2 p.m. at the NYCB Theatre in Westbury, is sure to delight his many fans, as it will be celebrating St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s Day in one show. Also performing with Cooney is talented soprano, Marissa Famiglietti.
“I’ve played Westbury a number of times over the years, and this must be my 15th visit,” said Cooney, who is expecting a turnout of 3,000 people. “We’re having the Long Beach Middle School Chorus perform as well, which is being sponsored by The Music and Theatre Legacy Foundation. They are wonderful people.”
One of those wonderful people is Kathleen Mucciolo-Kolins, president of the nonprofit organization.
“As president of the The Music and Theatre Legacy Foundation (MTLF), I am proud to sponsor the Long Beach Middle School Chorus for an unforgettable musical journey with Andy Cooney and Marissa Famiglietti,” said Mucciolo-Kolins. “It is our mission to build a bridge to a new generation of audiences by providing engaging learning experiences that celebrate the great legacies of world-class music and theatre. The MTLF is focused on educating young audiences by expanding their appreciation for the Great American Songbook, Broadway Theatre and classical music.”
Mucciolo-Kolins went on to describe the foundation’s focus, which is centers on enriching the lives of students through performances with professional artists.
“I hope that this concert will create a memory that illuminates the creativity within each of the students,” she said. “It has been a great pleasure to collaborate with the Long Beach Middle School Chorus and teacher Michele Bennett. The school community readily embraced this opportunity to provide their children with this performance experience that takes it from page to stage.”
Cooney, who has already had several rehearsals with the kids, is excited for their performance as well.
“I’m happy we were able to give these kids something to smile about; they have really rehearsed and worked hard,” he said, adding that the chorus will be singing two songs from his new CD, Bright Brand New Day.
To date, Cooney has recorded 18 albums and performs about 200 shows a year. But just because he is a veteran musician, doesn’t mean that Cooney no longer feels the nerves that come before a show.
“I get nervous, but in a good way. I’m always a little on edge before I go out but once you get your first song behind you, you kind of settle in,” said Cooney. “The first time I played Carnegie Hall, someone asked me if I was nervous and I said ‘it took me 20 years to get here, show me to the stage.’”
For Cooney, a standing ovation is not only the audience’s approval of his performance, but a show of appreciation as well.
“There’s nothing like going on stage and performing to an audience that truly appreciates what you do,” he said. “I always have a positive attitude before I walk out on the stage.”
With an intense love for his homeland, Cooney makes a pilgrimage to Ireland twice a year, but it’s more than an average vacation.
“I bring people over on a trip; one or two busloads of people and it’s kind of a like a tour. I show them Ireland and have Irish music along the journey in different towns that we visit,” said Cooney, who often performs in Ireland from time to time at the National Concert Hall in Dublin with friend and fellow Irish musician, Phil Coulter. “I also do a big Irish music theme cruise, which sets sail in February 2016 called The Cruise of Irish Stars. It sails out of Miami and we bring about 20 different singers and bands—Irish, of course—on the cruise.”
As for his upcoming projects, Cooney will be releasing a single in Ireland, England and Australia from his Irish country music record. On Dec. 10, 2015, he will be returning to Carnegie Hall for the seventh time as one of the New York Tenors performing in a Christmas show. Joining him will be Latin tenor Daniel Rodriguez and Italian tenor Christopher Mocchio.
“I’ve been doing this for so long and I just want to entertain people because they’re here to enjoy themselves,” said Cooney. “It’s about Irish music and having a good time.”
To learn more about Andy Cooney, visit www.andycooney.com. Cooney and Famiglietti will be performing with the Long Beach Middle School Chorus on Monday, March 16, at 2 p.m. at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 516-455-9393 or visit www.musicandtheatrelegacyfoundation.org. To read more about The Music and Theatre Legacy Foundation, click here.