About - Long Biography

Cantaire Dé (pronounced Kahn-tahr-reh Jay) is also known as Tyrone or Ty Alexander Huynh. Cantaire Dé discovered a new love for making music late in life after working through struggles of divorce and feeling trapped and unsuccessful in dead-end careers and circumstances. He found inspiration and strength with God in Christ to start a new life in 2009 and picked up an acoustic guitar a few years after that.

He always had joy for music but difficulty in understanding classic music theory kept him from trying to learn music earlier. He recalls almost failing a music class in high school and sheet music still baffles him. But like Elvis and jazz great, Erroll Louis Garner, who also couldn't read music, it doesn't stop him from trying to make good music.

Through singing and making music he discovered them to be the language of the soul, which conveys emotion much better than words alone. Now music, especially traditional Irish Celtic music, is a large part of his life, and he uses the acoustic electric guitar, Irish bodhrán drum and mandolin to convey the melodies of this spirit.

Making music has its many difficulties, but he was surprised his 2013 amateur recording of his original song, "My Heart Is In Dublin" won Best Ballad in a monthly music contest. The blessing inspired him to do more with music. He felt it could earn a paycheck as well as reach a worldwide audience, which he never thought he could aspire to do as a musician.

Cantaire Dé grew up in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area of Minnesota. Other than being an immigrant to the United States, he had a typical Midwestern-Urban childhood. Riding and customizing street bikes used to be a favorite past-time for him and he has even earned road-racing certification for motorcycles.

Besides making music, he uses his life experiences in discovering the hidden and surprising parts of our world to share valuable lessons. His varied background in the sciences, psychology, religion, creative arts, music and motorcycling have allowed him to make works that are compelling for many different types of people. One of his current projects is an Irish adventure book series called Aching Prosperity, which he wrote music for.

Q & A with Music Reporter Lauren Scott

LAUREN: As an artist on the rise, what is one thing you are most excited about and one thing you are most afraid of happening in your career?
CANTAIRE DÉ: I’m most excited to connect with people’s hearts and souls with my music. A lot of the songs I sing have a personal message I want to share with the world. One thing I fear most happening is that my music is ignored and falls away without impacting people. Music has deep meaning to me that needs to be shared, so when people walk away it is disheartening.

LAUREN: What was the inspiration behind your single, My Heart Is In Dublin?
CANTAIRE DÉ: I originally wrote the song for a Dublin, Ireland talent contest. I didn’t even get an honorable mention, but I had only submitted an acapella version and did not have it set to music yet. The love story behind it was inspired by dreams of finding love and life in Ireland. It isn’t based on a real love story. I haven’t even been to Ireland. Finances and circumstances just didn’t allowed it. You could say as the Irish do, I’ve been well skint (broke/poor), but I fell in love with Irish culture and music years ago. It’s been calling to me ever since and I can’t see it not being a large part of my life anymore.

LAUREN: It is often said that great art arises from difficult experience. Is there something in your life experience thus far that you would describe as the ‘catalyst’ or ‘fuel’ for your desire to create music?
CANTAIRE DÉ: Yes certainly. I said before music has deep meaning to me. It runs with my personal struggles that are inevitably linked to the spiritual, as all of our life struggles are. Finding God through Christ was a journey that music has been intertwined with. It was a journey of both wonder and sorrow.The struggles of seeing the world and our lives with new eyes is full of joy but also sadness. Joy in realizing there is much more to our lives than mere chance, and sorrow when you realize how much of the world’s eyes are closed to it all. There is spirit behind everything and music is no different. Music is the language of our souls, so when people don’t sing, no matter their mood or ability, it worries me that their souls are not truly alive – trapped in too much sorrow or hopelessness.

LAUREN: How would you characterize yourself as an artist/musician? (Ex. Down-to-earth, serious, fun-loving, complicated…)
CANTAIRE DÉ: Seriously complicated. That goes with the struggles I’ve talked about, but it depends on mood too. Maybe a more accurate description would be candid or sincere. I tend to sing songs that express my true emotions.

LAUREN: What has your experience been like working with the other people on your team?
CANTAIRE DÉ: In free-time I like to join Irish artists in trad music sessions, but for my own music projects I haven’t partnered with anyone. I do look forward to making music with others in the future, though.

LAUREN: Did you come from a musical background? Are there other musicians in your family?
CANTAIRE DÉ: I only had a couple general music classes in high school before I started learning guitar and singing much later. In my childhood, music was a big part of being entertained, but I did not learn an instrument or study it seriously. Vinyl records of Prince, Michael Jackson, Styx, and the Beatles were favorites. I liked to sing by myself often, though. I remember struggling horribly to read sheet music in my high school music class. That feeling of cluelessness came back to me when I started learning guitar and singing formally. I just can’t get my head around all those symbols and translate it into meaningful music. Never mind formal music theory too, it just confuses me. My son, though, doesn’t seem to have a problem with sheet music, at least at the middle-school level. He does well playing clarinet and trumpet in school band. Other than my boy, my family doesn’t have musicians.

LAUREN: What do you find most rewarding about being an artist? What do you find most challenging?
CANTAIRE DÉ: What is most rewarding is just being able to express myself for others to hear, but what is most challenging is doing it effortlessly. It’s been a lot of hard work to learn guitar and combine it smoothly with singing. I look forward to a time when I can perform effortlessly anywhere.

LAUREN: Who are your role models in music?
CANTAIRE DÉ: I like Colbie Caillat’s carefree joy and the angelic voices of Celtic Woman inspire me towards smooth, controlled singing. The straightforward contemporary folk styles of Jason Reeves, Jason Gray and Mat Kearney are sounds I like to emulate. Beatles songs and their remakes have been a constant inspiration for me. Dáithí Sproule, my Irish song teacher, and member of the Irish bank Altan has inspired me to connect with the roots of Irish music and language. His wonderful guitar playing and singing is something I’d like to strive for, but my guitar playing is strumming based rather than fingerpicking. I’ve found my finger coordination to be less than sufficient for fingerpicking styles of guitar.

LAUREN: What advice would you give to young, aspiring artists out there who are unsure and need guidance?
CANTAIRE DÉ: Make music and sing often. Don’t be too concerned with rules or how people think you should make music. Connect your music to the times and passions of your heart so the emotions in you can flow. I tend to avoid performing songs I don’t connect with. If you can’t feel a connection with the lyrics then the performance feels stunted or disconnected, like you’re just reciting a song instead of singing it. Your soul should be in it.

LAUREN: What's next for you as an artist? Is there a new single in the works? If so, what can you tell us about it?
CANTAIRE DÉ: I’m working on a lot of original songs as well as covers that I’d like to release in an album soon. Some of the songs I think are worthy of being released as singles. I’ve also included more Irish Gaeilge songs that I hope people enjoy. Some of them are original songs I wrote for the Irish book series, Aching Prosperity, I released in 2016.

LAUREN: It's been a blast talking with you. Thank you for your candid answers and we can't wait to hear your new music.

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