Juli Cragg Hilliard

Ronan Tynan credits success to parents

Ronan Tynan's parents were the foundation of his life.
His father is dead, and his mother has Alzheimer's disease, but "They gave me the fundamental values that I continue to base my life on," he said in a phone interview from New York, which he considers his second home.
Tynan, a former member of the Irish Tenors who's perhaps best known for singing "God Bless America" at his beloved New York Yankees games, honors his folks in a couple of the most moving songs on his new solo album, "Ronan."
In "The Old Man," Tynan sings, "He was more than just a father, a teacher, my best friend. He can still be heard in the tunes we shared."
Tynan co-wrote the lyrics to another of the selections, "Passing Through," about his ill mother: "But her strength still burns within me like the day she bade me stand."
That strength has carried Tynan through remarkable challenges and achievements. Now 45, he was born in County Kilkenny, Ireland, with a lower limb disability and didn't learn to stand until age 4.
After an auto accident at age 20, his legs were amputated, and he began using prosthetics. Competing in the Paralympics, he collected 18 gold medals and 14 world records in track and field events from 1981 to 1984. He became a physician, with a degree from Trinity College.
At the late age of 33, he started formal musical training at the College of Music in Dublin. He was a member of the Irish Tenors from the internationally famous trio's founding in 1998 until beginning his solo career in May 2004.
Tynan's autobiography, "Halfway Home; My Life 'Til Now" (Scribner), came out in 2002. He has performed at 9/​11 memorial services, and at former President Ronald Reagan's funeral.
Tynan gives his parents credit for inspiring all his
accomplishments. "People who believe in you and encourage you hold the matches that light the candle to your dreams," he said.
His soulful, natural tenor is well-suited to sacred songs, and "Ronan" contains several, including "How Great Thou Art," "From a Distance," "Mansions of the Lord" and "Amazing Grace."
But while he acknowledges he has "a spiritual sense," the singer balks at discussing his personal theology, saying simply that some songs were chosen because his fans want to hear him sing them.
"I think everybody's spirituality is their own private connection with who they believe in. And that is an intimacy with God or who they believe in," Tynan said. "Your spiritual side is your own business."

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