Brian Kennedy survived a childhood on the infamous Falls Road, West Belfast at the height of its hellish history against all the odds to carve an extraordinary career in Music. In his own words he says, “I shouldn’t have become a singer really, given where and how my life started, but my voice had other plans and saved me in the end.” That Voice changed the course of his whole life forever.
From harmonising with ambulances as a child to finally overcoming stage fright, his gradual ascent was nothing short of miraculous. He busked on the dangerous streets of his hometown whatever the political weather until a sudden escape to London when only 18 saw him surviving in the only way he knew how. He sang unaccompanied in the underground stations and outside the Dominion Theatre, sometimes literally in order to eat and until he finally saved up enough money for a guitar. He lived in various illegal squats before eventually being discovered by the now legendary Svengali Simon Fuller- [Pop Idol, Annie Lennox, The Spice Girls.] His constant touring from Ireland and the UK to Australia, Germany and the USA, including the major global festivals, has resulted in an every-growing international fan base the old fashioned way over a phenomenal twenty-four year career in the rollercoaster ride that is the unpredictable music industry.
2014 sees the release of Brian’s eagerly anticipated studio tribute album to Joni Mitchell called ‘A Love Letter To Joni’. Speaking about his Canadian Hero, Brian said: “When I realised Joni Mitchell was about to turn 70 last year I immediately wanted to honour her big birthday and her continued influence on me as an Artist by carefully selecting and recording 10 of my favourite songs of hers. It’s never an easy task as a fan but I started with her debut album from 1968 with my version of her iconic song ‘Michael from Mountains’ and then just went with my heart to choose the final song-list. It’s no surprise to me that three selections are from ‘Blue’ because it was that very album that was my initial introduction to her genius when I was around 19 yrs old. ‘A case of you’, ‘Little Green’ & ‘River’ were always going to be on my setlist”
Brian’s 2012 album ‘VOICE’ entered the album chart at No. 3 and the single ‘Best Days’ is his lyrical reaction to the recession and the album only cements Brian’s reputation as an exceptional vocalist, guitar player, songwriter and interpreter. On ‘Best Days’ Brian says, “I wanted to write something from a positive perspective, that gives us all a flicker of hope amongst the negativity we have to deal with on a daily basis.” His work with Van Morrison has been well documented. The Belfast Legend invited Brian to a rehearsal one day that resulted in him being featured as guest lead singer on the now unforgettable ‘Blues & Soul Revue’. Courtesy of Van’s continuing mentoring and generosity, Brian ended up sharing Vocal duties on stages across the globe over a six-year period with Morrison and a breathtaking cast of some of the greatest artists in history: Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles and John Lee Hooker to name but a few. Madison Square Gardens was a far cry from the Falls Road. That unique Irish Voice can be heard harmonising and answering Van on five of his major hit albums. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, you might be less familiar with Brian’s impromptu performances with Stevie Wonder at Ronnie Scotts in London. Incredibly and proudly he is one of only a few to have also sung with the late legendary Jeff Buckley at Sin É in New York.
Throughout the relentless touring with Van Morrison, Brian somehow managed to maintain a stream of chart-making albums. ‘A Better Man’ (1996) and ‘Now That I Know What I Want’ (1999), both went platinum at No.1 and earned him the awards of Irish Best Male Artist and Irish Best Male Album, as did the highly acclaimed ‘Homebird’ (2006) and cover album ‘Interpretations’ (2008). But it was Brian’s heart wrenching LIVE performance of ‘You Raise Me Up’ at the Funeral of Football Legend George Best that earned him a spot in the top 5 of the UK charts.
He is a Natural TV & Radio host as well as lead performer on diverse international stages, from New York’s Riverdance on Broadway for 9 months of over 300 performances to Eurovision 2006 in Athens. Remarkably Brian also found time to publish 2 fiction Novels that were as instant success and he continues to receive many prestigious awards, including the 2010 Ireland Meteor Lifetime Achievement Award for Music, and an even rarer Honorary Doctorate Degree of Letters by the University of Ulster, for his contribution to the Arts. When asked what else is left for “Dr Kennedy” to achieve he simply answers playfully, ” Ah sure I’m only getting started!”