Opera singer Mary Callaghan Lynch has serenaded audiences with her strong soprano voice for decades, and she credits her achievements to a musical upbringing in a Irish Catholic family.
"My father was a church musician and my mother was a vocalist, so I always sang in the choir," Lynch said. "It was something I initially took for granted, but I soon realized that a lot of people aren't exposed to music the way I was." As one of 18 children, the gift of music ran throughout the Callaghan family, but Lynch was the only sibling to pursue a musical career.
"I went to Marygrove (College). I was a theater major with a minor in voice," she said. "My parents couldn't financially support me, but they unabashedly supported my desire to be a singer and pursue that career."
Lynch's voice has soared through the Fisher Theater, Detroit Opera House, Masonic Temple and Music Hall in Detroit. Among her many operatic endeavors, she has performed in La Bohéme, Amahl and the Night Visitors, and Pirates of Penzance. Perhaps her most significant performance was singing for Pope John Paul II at the Most Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Detroit.
"My father accompanied me as the organist," Lynch said. "It was a thrilling and sacred experience. It was an honor and a privilege."
During the past decade, Lynch has redirected her focus from performing to philanthropy and voice training for such talents as Detroit's own Aretha Franklin.
"It was daunting at first, but honestly, (Franklin) treats me like a colleague," she said. "We have a mutual respect which I find very humbling. I coach her in her operatic repertoire and her chords are made of steel. She is something else."
Lynch also heads up Motor City Lyric Opera, a non-profit organization that familiarizes students with theater through performances at inner city schools.
"This is what I'm so passionate about right now," she said. "School budgets are just slashed and it's such a great opportunity to introduce kids to music." Reducing her performance schedule was a bittersweet decision, Lynch said, but the sacrifice has offered invaluable fulfillment. "We've gotten thousands of letters from kids," said. "It's been very rewarding. I feel so lucky that I've been able to do both."
Lynch continues to vocalize daily and her talents will be on display at the 27th annual "Patrick Tide: A Celebration of Celtic Music, Poetry and Dance" event at Holy Name Catholic Church in Birmingham on St. Patrick's Day.
"I will be singing and my husband, Patrick, will be singing. It's a great, family-oriented event on St. Patty's Day."...continued on page 2