Q. So give us a thumbnail sketch: where were you born and raised?
A. I was born and raised in Massapequa, Long Island
Q. What made you want to be a singer?
A. My grandfather was an Irish tenor from Dublin. He’s the one that got me started.
Q. How did your childhood shape you as a person?
A. We have a big family. My mom had 9 kids. We are all very close in age. When you grow up in this type of environment, there are experiences that you have that stay with you a lifetime.
Q. As an artist?
A. My parent found it most important that we all took piano lessons and had some type of exposure to music. Needless to say, I knew what I wanted to do from when I was very young.
Q. What went through your mind the first time you heard your record on the radio?
A. It was “The Irish Wedding Song” on WROL in Boston by a DJ named John Lachford. He not only played it once, he played it back to back. It was an amazing feeling that I’ll never forget.
Q. What’s the best part of this experience?
A. It been an incredible journey for me these past 25 years. I started out playing piano bars and Irish pubs around the NYC area. Then, as my career progressed, I went on the road with Paddy Noonan, began writing songs in Nashville, and then went on to perform and record with music legends such as Crystal Gayle, Larry Gatlin, Ronan Tynan, and Phil Coulter. And then last year, I sold out Carnegie Hall. The best part of my experience has to be the journey.
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Q. Any drawbacks?
A. I would have to say the journey as well. While it was an incredible experience, it does have many draw backs. It takes a very understanding wife and kids to be able to live this journey. It has definitely been difficult on my family. That is the biggest drawback. Also, one of the big drawbacks is that you had better be ready for rejection!
Q. What are your favorite songs to sing in concert? “The Holy City.” In the shower? “Crying in the Rain” by Whitesnake. At 3 a.m. in a pub? You don’t want to go there . . .
Q. What would we be surprised to learn about you?
A. I am a huge sports fan. Baseball is big with me. Let’s Go Mets!
Q. Favorite form of relaxation?
A. I can’t relax! Anyone that knows me will tell you that . . . I played 236 shows last year. There is only one thing that takes my mind off everything and that is me and my son Ryan playing a round of golf together.
Q. If you hadn’t been a performer, what career path might you have followed?
A. You know, this is what I wanted to do from Day 1. I’m not really sure what I would have been. I love the music business. Maybe I would have worked for a record label or managed a successful artist.
Q. If you could do one thing in your life over again, what would it be?
A. I know this sounds corny, but I pretty much very happy with everything.
Q. Funniest or most surreal celebrity encounter / incident?
A. I was doing a TV appearance with Father Tom Hartman and Rabbi Gelman on Telicare and I called Rabbi Gelman, Father Gelman. (Not a good thing . . .)
Q. How many songs do you have on your iPod / in your music library?
A. Easily over 1,000.
Q. What cheesy one-hit wonder would I be surprised to find there?
A. “I’m Into Something Good,” by Herman’s Hermits.
Q. Favorite film? “A Few Good Men.” Book? Bill O’Reilly’s “Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity.” Food? Pizza. Drink? A nice, single malt scotch.
Q. What inspires you?
A. Prayer inspires me.
Q. One thing you never leave home without?
A. My iPhone.
Q. Advice for someone contemplating a career in the music business?
A. Do what you want to do; record what you want to record; follow your own road. You will find that in the music business there are no rules. Every successful artist has had their own journey, so follow your heart.
Q. Best advice anyone ever gave you?
A. It has to be the late Johnny Hanley who played drums with Paddy Noonan for almost 40 years. One day we were talking about the music business and my frustration as a writer and artist while I was pursuing a record deal in Nashville back around 1990. He said to me, “You don’t have to have a major record deal to make it in the music business. Go out there and make you own market.” That’s exactly what I did. To this date, I’ve recorded 20 CDs and have over 35,000 people on my mailing list. Each one of them signed up to be on it. They have always been so supportive. I’d be nowhere with out them.
Q. Of what personal accomplishment are you most proud?
A. I would have to say being able to pass on all of this knowledge onto my son Ryan. He is a very talented 13-year-old performer. He brought down the house at Carnegie last year. Ryan is on my latest CD, “The Magic of Christmas,” recorded in Ireland with the RTE Concert Orchestra. We will also perform together again at Carnegie. This has been my greatest personal accomplishment.
We’re giving away FIVE PAIRS of tickets to see Andy Cooney, Crystal Gayle and Eileen Ivers in “The Magic of Christmas” at Carnegie Hall on Dec. 8, 2009. To enter, send your name, address and daytime phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject line MUST contain your name and the words “Cooney Contest.” Deadline for all entries is Friday, Dec. 4, at 2 p.m. One entry per person. Incomplete entriesd will be disqualified. Five winners will be chosen at random from all eligible entries. To enter via fax, print your contact details clearly, include the words “Cooney Contest,” and send it to (212) 482-6569.