Home Highlights 'Music of Ireland,' Elevation's Denny Young

Cleveland Heights' Denny Young produces PBS special on Irish music

By Mark Dawidziak, The Plain Dealer, February 20, 2010

A veritable "Who's Who" of Irish music shows up in the stirring documentary PBS premieres at 9:30 p.m. Sunday, March 7, locally on WVIZ Channel 25. The program is titled "Music of Ireland: Welcome Home."

But the creator and executive producer behind this star-studded program doesn't call Ireland home. As far as he knows, none of his ancestors called the Emerald Isle home.

Denny Young lives in Cleveland Heights with his wife and two children. So how did a Cleveland boy with no Irish roots fall under spell of Ireland's music? How did it come about that the giants of Irish music, from Liam Clancy and Paddy Moloney to Bono and Sinead O'Connor, entrusted him with the story?

For that answer, you must go back to 1982. Then a sophomore at University School, Young discovered this Irish rock band called U2.

"I absolutely fell in love with U2," Young said. "While I was still in high school, they released the concert film 'Live at Red Rocks,' and it featured this ominous, beautiful, haunting song by the Irish group Clannad. Well, I ran out to Coventry Road and bought every Clannad album I could find."

The song was "Theme from Harry's Game," with Gaelic lyrics telling of The Troubles in Northern Ireland.

In 1988, during his senior year at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, Young needed a topic for the final paper of a journalism class. The luck of the Irish was with him. He hit upon the idea of a mock documentary history of Irish music.

"I held on to that final," Young said. "It was one of the very few papers I saved from my days at Miami of Ohio."

After graduation, he learned about the music and sports worlds through a 1988-93 stint with Cleveland-based Belkin Productions and a 1993-2002 gig with the International Management Group. He left IMG in 2002 to start the Elevation Group, a music, sports, entertainment and television production company.

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