A Voice To Charm the Angels
Brian Kennedy is one of Ireland’s most inspired and revered ambassadors of music. He is not only a prolific songwriter but a master interpreter of lyrics as well, and audiences around the world continue to praise his exceptional vocal talents. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, the multi-platinum recording artist remains one of Ireland’s most popular singing stars.
With “a voice to charm the angels,” Brian 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. “Without exaggeration it’s a pure miracle that I survived my childhood and became a singer really, given where and how my life started, but somehow my voice had other plans and saved me in the end." That voice set him on a course that changed his life forever.
From harmonizing with ambulance sirens as a child to finally overcoming stage fright, his gradual ascent was nothing short of incredible. He busked on the dangerous streets of his hometown whatever the political climate until a sudden escape to London at 18 where he survived 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. Soon thereafter, Brian was discovered by British entrepreneur/manager Simon Fuller.
Brian is first and foremost a live performer and songwriter declaring “music is my lifeblood.” His constant touring from Ireland and the UK to Australia, Europe, Asia and the USA, including the major global festivals, has resulted in an ever-growing international fan base, over a phenomenal three-decade career.
Spotted by Belfast legend Van Morrison, Brian was invited to a rehearsal one day which resulted in Morrison recruiting him to join his now unforgettable “Blues & Soul Revue” tour as guest lead singer. Thanks to Van’s ongoing mentoring and generosity, Brian found himself sharing vocal duties on stages across the globe over a six-year period with Morrison and a breathtaking array of some of the greatest artists in history: Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles and John Lee Hooker to name a few.
Performing at Madison Square Garden in New York was a far cry from the Falls Road. His unique voice can be heard harmonizing and answering Van on five of his major hit albums including “A Night In San Francisco” and “Days Like This.”
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).
Brian has done impromptu performances with Stevie Wonder at Ronnie Scotts in London and, 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
You Raise Me Up
Brian was the very first international artist to record the now famous uplifting anthem “You Raise Me Up” by Secret Garden in 2001, today it remains one of his most popular signature songs. His heart-wrenching LIVE performance of “You Raise Me Up” at the funeral of Irish football legend George Best was released as a single and earned him a spot in the top 5 of the UK charts. This song has since been recorded by over 1,000 artists.
Riverdance to Eurovision
Brian is a natural TV (The Voice Ireland coach) and radio host (Clare FM) as well as lead performer on diverse international stages. From his role in Riverdance-On Broadway in New York (nine months/over 300 performances) to Eurovision 2006 in Athens, Brian also found time to write and publish two fiction novels that were an instant success. He continues to receive many prestigious awards, including the 2019 West Belfast Legend Award, 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 Literature and Arts.
The Power of Music
2016 found Brian busy in the studio recording a 32-track double CD “The Essential Collection” comprising all brand-new recordings from the past and present including a duet with Boy George of 'Christopher Street'. Brian maintains that “music is the language of emotion,” and after all his years performing and recording with Van Morrison, he favors the live shows above all else. “Van always said you’re only as good as your last gig.”
Also in 2016, Brian began the most challenging journey of his life with a cancer diagnosis and he cites singing and performing as the motivation for staying positive. “The gigs make everything worthwhile, the fans' support means the world to me,” he said. “If anything, the diagnosis and treatment has given me greater focus and determination to get through it all. Music is the ultimate healer and my voice has never let me down.” The same year, Brian’s iconic album “A Better Man” turned 20 and what better place to celebrate than on stage doing what he loves best. He performed the entire album in Dublin’s prestigious Vicar Street venue on October 13, 2016.
In 2017, following a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, he released the “Live at Vicar Street, Dublin” double CD and bonus DVD before heading to China for a tour with Secret Garden where they had a huge hit with Brian performing “You Raise Me Up."
Brian recorded his first ever collection of his most beloved Christmas songs with brand new, breath-taking arrangements for some old and new classic Christmas songs resulting in the 2018 release of the album “Christmassy.”
That same year he had to have a 9 hour life saving double stoma surgery and took time out to start his recovery. Unbelievably two weeks after leaving hospital he sang at a fundraiser for a friend in Dublin.
In June 2019 Brian completed an exhaustive 6 month chemotherapy chapter and was gladly given the all clear…cancer free! During his period of healing, he wrote new songs which reflect his incredible journey. The result: the poignant and inspiring EP aptly entitled “Recovery.” He performed these new songs for the first time at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
It has long been a desire of Brian’s to perform at New York’s famed Carnegie Hall. He realised that dream on December 9, 2019 and had the 3,000 plus SRO crowd in the palm of his hand as they sang along with him.
Brian recorded and co-wrote the song ‘Things Are Gonna Change’ with Boy George (released April, 2020).
Throughout lockdown Brian presented a fortnightly up close and personal show live on Facebook called ‘A Night In With Brian Kennedy’. Each show has a new set of his most popular songs, guests and chat, all streamed live from Dublin at 8.00pm. The shows have so far reached a combined audience of over 150,000+
Unfortunately, in late June Brian suffered a major heart attack and he needed a quadruple bypass operation that saved his life. It was the third time that he had to learn to walk again but as ever he soldiered through that with incredible success. As if that wasn’t enough, he contracted Covid but because he was doubly vaccinated, he was able to recover fully at home and his spirit and voice are stronger than ever. As his song RECOVERY says, “You just can’t keep a good man down, that’s what my doctor says”. He has recently returned to the stage now Covid restrictions have lifted and it’s an understatement to say he’s singing better than ever. Bring on the gigs!
Around The World In 80 Gays & Folkie
2022 has brought two major projects to light. He has just launched his first ever Podcast series with friend and Comedian Katherine Lynch called “Around The World In 80 Gays” where they chat with all kinds of significant guests about their gay journeys in Ireland. It can be found on the Goloud app or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Brian announced it from the Acoustic stage in Glastonbury 2022, whilst also promoting and singing songs from his newly released 17th solo album called FOLKIE that sees him pay tribute to some of Ireland's greatest folk singers.