Critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Michael McDermott is a 2022 winner of the prestigious Tenco Award for career songwriting, an honor that recognizes artists who have made a significant contribution to songwriting in Italy and abroad. The award, established in 1974, pays homage to the late singer-songwriter Luigi Tenco and celebrates exceptional and impactful songwriting on an international level.
McDermott is now part of a lofty winner’s circle as the Tenco Award has previously gone to luminaries in the singer-songwriter pantheon such as Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, Sting, Jackson Browne, Elvis Costello, Randy Newman, and David Crosby. A few international past winners include Caetano Veloso, Jacques Brel, Joan Manuel Serrat, and Milton Nascimento. McDermott will fly to Sanremo, Italy to receive the Tenco Award on October 21 during the Tenco Prize celebration that runs from October 20-22.
“There are a few times when my life felt like a waking dream,” says an elated McDermott, “when I saw my wife Heather as I stepped out of an elevator in Chicago, when I held my daughter Rain in my arms for the first time, when I read what Stephen King had written about me for the liner notes of my album, and now when I heard that I won the Tenco Award. To have my name placed alongside the hallowed company of Tenco, Waits, Mitchell, and Cohen is just so humbling. To me, this is the honor of an eternity.”
The Tenco Award puts a much-deserved crown on McDermott’s artistic career. The Chicago-based triple-threat (singer, songwriter, musician) is now a published author. His just-released memoir, Scars From Another Life, has been described as “a white-knuckle ride from small-town obscurity… from the glitter to the gutter and the long road back…McDermott’s down-and-out determination to transcend his demons is a story of the redemptive power of finding oneself in sobriety, family, and the healing salvation of song.”
Since the early ‘90s, when he released his debut album, 620 W. Surf, McDermott has steadfastly persevered to craft a creative livelihood fortified by more than a dozen studio albums and critical acclaim from Rolling Stone, The New York Times, CNN, and The Washington Post, to name a few. Even Stephen King, the master of the best-selling horror novel genre, called McDermott “possibly the greatest undiscovered rock and roll talent of the last 20 years.”
His latest album, St. Paul’s Boulevard, released this past spring on Pauper Sky Records, is a conceptual and autobiographical opus where McDermott introduces characters lost and found, rich and poor, young and old, and many struggling to survive on a fictional street that could exist anywhere. Recorded from August 2021 to February 2022, St. Paul’s Boulevard is the personal yet universal sonic vision of McDermott and co-producer Steven Gillis.