Ian Byrne, lead singer of The Elders, was born in County Wicklow, Ireland, but traveled with the family to Scotland and Wales as his father worked as a mining engineer. Although he apprenticed as a woodworker, Ian kept his love of music. Drums and percussion were, and are, his instruments of choice. He joined a pipe band in Arklow County Wicklow. They already had too many drummers so he learned to play the bagpipes instead. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1987 and went to work for a remodeling company in Kansas City. Ian married his Kansas City girlfriend, Fox 4 reporter Kathy Quinn, and they have three children, Kian, Andreina and Kaitlin. In 1990, Ian started Byrne Custom Woodworking Inc.
Over the next 11 years, he played music with local bands and participated in recording sessions with various artists. The Elders formed in 1998 with Michael Bliss as lead singer. In 2001 Bliss relocated to the East Coast and Ian took his place as lead singer for The Elders. Over the last decade, the Elders have grown into an international success, touring the world, playing to sold-out crowds.
What makes Kansas City a great place for creativity and innovation?
I grew up in Ireland, Wales and Scotland. I have lived here in Kansas City for 20-plus years. I love how Kansas City has progressed since I moved here. The eclecticism and the appreciation for the arts is inspiring. The new performing arts center and our First Fridays are the talk of the country.
What is your favorite spot in Kansas City?
I love the art fairs in Brookside and the Plaza. The Plaza is so class!
Where's your favorite place outside of Kansas City?
I love Colorado. If Kansas City wasn't this magic spot, I would move to the mountains.
What's your most treasured possession?
My memories. I have some aging family members who have made me appreciate how precious our fond memories are. I shall try to document the special ones in some kind of image format and rely on my eyes to keep them alive.
Who's your favorite fictional hero?
Who do you most admire in real-life?
That's a difficult question to pinpoint. It changes from day-to-day. In general though, I have great admiration for people who dedicate their whole lives to helping others. I also love school teachers.
When and where are you happiest?
In front of an ovational, standing, appreciative audience after singing one of my compositions.