An enthusiastic crowd packed the pews of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Norfolk, Virginia, November 21, 2021, for a captivating concert performance by renowned tenor Anthony Kearns to celebrate the church’s centennial anniversary.
Kearns, an original member of the PBS super-group, The Irish Tenors, was accompanied by David George from Louisville, Kentucky. Both artists performed at a pre-Mass concert for Pope Francis in Philadelphia in 2015, among many other high-level appearances together.
The concert was held by Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in partnership with The Barry Robinson Center and the Next Step To Success program. Next Step is a new anti-poverty initiative supporting young teens in Norfolk with education, mentorship and enrichment activities. The Barry Robinson Center is a premier behavioral health system for youth, anchored by a residential treatment program in Norfolk for military-connected children and teens.
Charles "Chuck" V. McPhillips, Chairman of the Board for Next Step To Success and The Barry Robinson Center, said he was “elated to have so much star power” to illuminate the transformative power of the Next Step program.
“All children want to succeed, all children can succeed, all children deserve an opportunity to succeed,” said McPhillips, who was instrumental in securing Mr. Kearns’ performance. “The evening exceeded everyone’s expectations.”
“With two full sets of songs, and an intermission, I really think everyone in attendance got their money and then some,” McPhillips said. “It was a really spectacular, historic event.”
Kearns, alongside George at piano, enthralled the audience with a mix of inspirational and religious songs, Irish ballads, and popular tunes, including “How Great Thou Art,” “I Believe,” “Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears,” “Over the Rainbow”, “Grace,” “She Moved Through the Fair,” “Time to Say Good-bye,” and the classic “Danny Boy.”
“Nights like this don’t come often enough, listening to world-class performer in support of a worthy cause. Anthony Kearns’ concert was a blessing for our parish and the overall community,” said Father Eric Ayers, pastor of the historic church.
Kearns has been beloved by fans across the globe since breaking onto the scene as a member of the PBS supergroup ‘The Irish Tenors’ in 1998. Kearns, and the members of the Irish trio garnered global acclaim through its PBS specials and best-selling recordings. When not touring with The Irish Tenors, Kearns enjoys a robust international solo career.
“It was an honor to participate in the centennial celebration of Blessed Sacrament, a church with deep Irish Catholic roots, and to contribute to such a worthy cause,” said Kearns, noting the concert was attended by some of the youth who benefit from Next Step To Success.
“This concert touched so many hearts and helped raise awareness about the ways the community is coming together to help our youth. That is what we as an organization try to do-- help our community, and improve the lives of children and their families,” said Robert McCartney, chief executive officer of The Barry Robinson Center.
Commenting on the tone of the evening, McCartney said, “It was a great concert for a great cause, and I think people had a spectacular time.”