nashua telegraph

Nashua NH

Thurs, March 13, 1997

Rivier's Social Justice Series to feature gay songwriter

Man, raised Catholic, pens loves songs along with lyrics on 'coming out' experiences.

Telegraph Staff

"I'm not a preacher and I'm not a Scripture-quoting Bible thumper,
but I am someone whose spirituality has informed all of my life
and it's probably the deepest part of me....
It's where my music comes from."

Tom McCormack, songwriter

NASHUA: In a letter to the college last fall, songwriter Tom McCormack referred to his upcoming concert at Rivier as "an honor and responsibility."

As someone who was raised Catholic and gay, McCormack says he looks at his performance at the Catholic college as an unexpected but welcome turn in his life's journey. "I'm not a preacher and I'm not a Scripture-quoting Bible thumper, but I am someone whose spirituality has informed all of my life and it's probably the deepest part of me....It's where my music comes from," he says.

McCormack, whose performance is dubbed "Hate Speech and Love Songs," plays tonight as part of Rivier's Peace and Social Justice Series. The program begins at 7pm in the Dion Center.

The 35-year old New York native plans to take breaks from his piano-playing to discuss his life and music - something new for the artist, who typically lets his art do the talking.

McCormack's music reflects his own journey. Before his most recent CD, Missing, he had been disenchanted with efforts to get his music out. That's when he decided "to basically just do it for me."

"Missing" also coincided with McCormack's coming out professionally. On the album, he addresses issues of identity. On the title song, for example, he asks, "Have you ever been lonely for something you could not name?"

McCormack, who lives in Brooklyn, NY, is confident in his music's ability to impress where words alone may falter.

A woman once approached him after a performance and confided that he had given words to something she had never been able to articulate.

"You've been following me," she told him.

"She was deadly earnest," McCormack says.

The song "Coming" on the CD is basically his story, McCormack says, although he sings of a woman coming out later in life.

In the song, someone approaches the woman, condemning her "sin." What would be a sin, McCormack says, is to never reveal who you are.

"If you feel the need to blame, blame it on freedom," he sings.

McCormack says he was tired of spending so much energy hiding.

"The whole concept of denying who I was and who I was created to be was so utterly wrong, so profoundly wrong," he says.

The song "I Love You More," also on the CD, came to him on a retreat as he grappled with his own spirituality. The phrase kept returning to him, like a mantra, a message he sees as a personal gift from God.

"I think a lot of fear of others comes from a lack of love or a lack of confidence with ourselves," he says.

McCormack says his audiences is "very broad" and not restricted to gay listeners. His music speaks to universal themes, such as love or searching, he says. "Coming" for example, is just a metaphor, he says. Someone may also be hiding because of fear or abuse.

His love songs are also open to all listeners. It's a universality reflected in the song "Love is Love."

"I don't think it's such a radical concept to say 'I love you,'" McCormack says.

All programs in the Rivier series are free and open to the public. Reservations are encouraged.

For more information or to reserve a seat contact Jim Hamel by telephone at 888-1311, Ext. 8250 or by e-mail:

1997 Telegraph

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