Missed an earlier news item? Visit the news archive.


Meteor Lifetime Achievement Award Winner 2010
Thurs. 5th May 2011 – National Concert Hall, Dublin

Critically acclaimed singer / songwriter Brian Kennedy returns to The National Concert Hall on Thursday, 5th May 2011. Tickets on sale from the NCH.

The Concert will feature Brian Kennedy’s greatest hits to date, including “A Better Man”, “ Love & Happiness”, “ Get on With Your Short Life”, “You Raise Me Up”, “ Get It Right Next Time”, “Gaye”, “ Brown  Eyed Girl”, ‘”Message In A Box”, “Crazy Love”  and many more.

Last year kicked off with a performance in New York at a Liam Neeson hosted gig where Brian sang “Raglan Road” with Meryl Streep who is a big fan of Brian’s. The year continued on a high for Brian when he was awarded “The Lifetime Achievement” Award at the Meteor Ireland Music Awards, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Irish music industry. The following day, he set off for a nineteen date tour of Australia.

He’s the artist who seemingly has it all, blessed with a multitude of talents: singer/songwriter/guitarist,  born communicator, seen and heard on countless TV and radio shows from both sides of the mike; Ireland’s ambassador on more than one global music stage; recognised author of a couple of best-selling novels and numerous short stories. How lucky can one man be?

But behind the facade, there’s a different story. It’s been a long, tough haul from the Falls Road, Belfast, his birthplace in 1966, with early years spent at the height of the troubles and the screech of sirens, rather than music, ringing in his ears. Nevertheless, with an uncanny inner strength, he turned horror to advantage by harmonising with the sirens, unaware he was nurturing a natural god-given vocal talent that would later earn him the title, ‘a voice to charm the angels.’

The same urge to survive led him at the age of eighteen to leave Belfast, head for London and tread the path of many a young musician with a bit of ambition, busking round  London’s underground, connecting up with other groups ,and trekking round the piano bars.

He could have succumbed and fallen by the wayside, but didn’t, his determination and persistence leading to a major breakthrough with his first record deal in 1990 and the release of “The Great War of Words”. The tracks, “Captured” and “Town” connected instantly with the public. This was the kickstart he needed to showcase, not only his extraordinary voice and songwriting abilities, but other underlying qualities: a quick wit, easy humour and bright repartee with a warmth and sense of pathos that can bring an audience to laughter or tears, sometimes simultaneously – pure gold-dust for an aspiring world-class performer.

These talents didn’t go unnoticed by the great legend himself, Van Morrison, when he invited the young Mr Kennedy to join his renowned Blues and Soul World Revue. Plunging in at the deep end he spent the next six years performing with some of the greatest legends of our time: Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles and others, not forgetting the original boogie king, John Lee Hooker. He backed Van on many of the great classic VM albums of the ‘90s -  “Days Like This”, “The Healing Game”, “Back on Top”,  and the highly acclaimed “A Night In San Francisco”, with Van and John Lee, with further recognition when asked to sing the soundtrack of “Crazy Love” for the film “When a Man Loves A Woman”. This was the stuff dreams are made of; the best possible training ground for a young musician eager to learn the tools of the trade with the greatest in the business and Brian seized the opportunity, developing a work ethic that to this day, forms the backbone of his own stellar career.  He has since referred to this once-in-a-lifetime experience as a magic period in his life.

By the end of the ‘90s he’d made a creditable impression as both songwriter and performer.  Albums were appearing on a regular basis, making a worthy list - a total at present of around ten mostly self-penned releases - with an equal number of compilations and collaborations, together with the Van Morrison set.  Awards steadily rolled in too for several chart-making albums: Irish Best Male Album, Irish Best Male Artist, along with platinum status for “A Better Man”, (No.1 in the 1996 charts with three highly acclaimed singles, “Better Man”, “Put a Message In The Box” and “Life, Love and Happiness”) followed in 1999 by the compilation album, “Now That I Know What I Want” (Sony Music Ireland,)  of which the single “These Days” (duet with Ronan Keating)  reached No.3 in the Irish Singles Chart, and platinum status.  Additionally, he fitted in his film debut as a singer in This Is The Sea  (1997) featuring Gabriel Byrne and Richard Harris, and the first of several future live events in honour of  President Bill Clinton, an enthusiastic admirer of Brian’s work.

While 2000 heralded the Olympics in Australia, across the Atlantic Brian Kennedy was again taking the plunge, this time as lead singer in the prestigious Riverdance Show On Broadway at the Gershwin Theatre NY. New songs were written especially for him by Grammy Award-winning composer Bill Whelan, later recorded by Decca Broadway on a soundtrack album of the highly successful show. Free moments were spent downtown at popular music club, Arlene’s Grocery, sowing the seeds for his next album, “Get On With Your Short Life”, to be released in Ireland the following year.

If New York is the city that never sleeps, Brian Kennedy is surely the artist who never stops. From 2000 on, the twists and turns of the journey gathered momentum with emphasis on his talents as a live performer.

The regular Ireland/UK tours, including various charity benefit concerts, continued with various groups like The Corrs and other individuals, whilst radio and television appearances increased with magazine and press interviews added to the diary.

Despite a schedule already gruelling enough to test the stamina of Superman, the songwriting and steady stream of albums continued, each depicting a progressive step as an artist.  “Won’t You Take Me Home – The RCA Years”, in 2000 -  a 28-track record of his most popular traditional and contemporary songs, was followed in 2001 by the Irish release of “Get On With Your Short Life”, a 17-track intimate story of Brian’s personal New York experience, the first of an outstanding 6-album record deal with Curb Records. 2002 saw the UK release of the same album and 2003, the On Song and On Song 2 duo, based on a TV series of traditional Irish songs presented by Brian which brought together an impressive number of luminaries from the fields of music, film, theatre and the media

During 2002, a significant change occurred in the course of Brian’s journey. The buzz over the launching of a new book, “Breaking The Skin”, grew louder. This anthology of Irish short stories, including two of Brian’s own, confirmed previous rumblings that he was embarking on a new adventure as a writer - an unexpected turn of events for some, but no real surprise to his long-term fans. After all, his career so far as a live performer has always reflected the path of the traditional travelling minstrel and lyrics such as “The Ballad of Killaloe”, “Christopher Street” and “New York” (“Get On With Your Short Life”) merely confirm that when it comes to telling a moving story in song, no-one does it better than Brian Kennedy, thus ensuring a smooth transition to the field of literature. The only significant change would be his title, from lyricist to novelist, or vice versa, depending on the role of the moment.

Any fears among BK fans that his writing interests might take precedence over live performances were quickly allayed in 2003, when Brian made several surprise solo visits to Australia, first, on a brief promotional tour for “Get On With Your Short Life”, closely followed by a second, full-scale solo national tour, encompassing endless TV, radio and press interviews in each state he covered. This pattern was repeated in 2005 for the Folk Festival season (including New Zealand), and again in 2007 (including Tasmania) for another highly successful national tour, supported by a hardcore fan base that was growing at every stage.  The tours were a triumph - the Aussies took him to their hearts, leaving no doubt they wanted him to return, again, and again. After the 2003 tour, he was back in Belfast to deliver his memorable “Live in Belfast” concert at the Waterfront Hall, duly recorded live as a combined DVD/CD reminder of an exceptional evening, showcasing the combined brilliant talents of Brian and support musicians, Calum MacColl, James Blesserhassett, Liam Bradley and James Hallawell.

Entering on the crest of success, 2004 had barely begun when speculation turned to reality with the release of his debut novel “The Arrival of Fergal Flynn” as it shot to No.3 in the Irish Best Seller list. With positive reviews pouring in, Brian Kennedy received the official stamp of approval as an author from both critics and public. His beautifully created and crafted character of Fergal Flynn so moved readers that it was inevitable a sequel would follow. It did, barely a year later, in the guise of “Roman Song”, yet another best seller, launched amid joyful acclaim from fans and readers alike.

Brian Kennedy now symbolised the perfect representative for Ireland. Further accolades fell from all directions. It was a time to celebrate when in February 2006, he was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) by the University of Ulster, in recognition of his contribution to the arts. Co-incidentally, he was chosen by public vote to represent Ireland at the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest, in Athens, with his own composition, “Every Song Is A Cry for Love”, as Ireland’s entry. This he did magnificently in May 2006, achieving 10th place and acquiring automatic entry to the next contest for Ireland.

However, life has a habit of balancing joy with sadness, and as the good times rolled, shock waves rushed through Ireland and the rest of the world at the announcement of George Best’s death in December 2005.  It is recorded history that Brian was chosen to perform at the extraordinary State funeral at Stormont. Televised globally, Brian gave an inspiring and powerful performance of “You Raise Me Up” and “Vincent”, both recorded as a charity single, George Best: Tribute. It goes without saying, “You Raise Me Up” quickly rose to No. 4 in the UK charts.

”Homebird” arrived comparatively quietly in May 2006, amid the frenzy of the European Song Contest and entered the Charts at No.9.  A highly popular and significant album, it is a delightful representation of Brian’s voice and songwriting ability at their best - the voice at its most pure and the lyrics thoughtful -  many speaking of the pitfalls of celebrity and the joy of returning home, with the overriding message that arriving at the top is not always the dream it may seem.

Early 2008 brought the release of Brian’s landmark 10th album - the eagerly awaited “Interpretations”, covering 13 of the most popular chart-toppers of the past 30-odd years – an unusual enterprise for a songwriter of Brian’s calibre, but one in which he demonstrates his sensitivity towards others’ works, from “Gaye” to “Galileo”, “Brown-Eyed Girl” to “You Are So Beautiful”, to name a few, making them his own with some surprising and unique results.  The combination of a beautiful voice and some of the greatest instrumentalists and arrangers in the industry, make this album well worth listening to, while its quality is best summed up in Brian’s own words in the liner notes as he writes, “I offer my respect to all the writers of all those extraordinary songs. My main concern was sticking to the brilliant melodies and lyrics that were so carefully and masterfully composed in the first place.”  And so he does.

It’s been quite a journey since the young aspiring musician from Belfast penned what is regarded as his signature tune, “Captured”. Each year along the way has been an exciting and progressive step as an artist and 2010 is no exception.

These days it’s a different man up there on stage, Brian Kennedy has grown up since the Falls Road, Belfast - a mature performer who’s honed his skills to a level of professionalism that now puts him well and truly in command. This is a man who appears to have found himself, knows what he wants, where he’s going, and who - as that well-known lyric aptly puts it - is going to get there.

What lies further into the future?  Well, there’s always room for speculation  –another tour of Oz perhaps - another book?  Who knows?  The only safe bet is that whichever direction he takes, whatever adventure he embarks on, his loyal fans will be there to share the ride, ready for the next twenty years. They’ll rush out to book tickets and buy his books, and at every BK live concert of the future, as he springs onto that stage, with the same youthful energy, the seasoned fans will smile knowingly at the newbies, as they offer up their silent thanks, because they know the moment that first note rings out, magic is about to happen..

Critically acclaimed singer / songwriter Brian Kennedy is back in The National Concert Hall on Thurs. 5th May 2011. Tickets are now on sale from the NCH. For more details you can contact The National Concert Hall on (01) 417 0000 or log onto

For further information contact:
Aine Carmody / Niamh White
Carmody Smith PR
01 2602664 / 086 1741882

Permalink - Posted: April 14, 2011 at 8:58 am