This much I know: Brian Kennedy, Singer/songwriter

Before I was famous, I used to visualise my success.

I’d look at posters of someone like George Michael and literally visualise my own name and my own album cover up there instead of his. It wasn’t confidence, it was naievity.

My biggest challenge so far has been surviving my childhood on Belfast’s Falls Road, and how to be gay on the Falls Road back then.

I always had an innate sense of wanting to sing but it was stepping outside of what was the norm in my family and there was a great deal of misunderstanding and puzzlement around it. I wasn’t greatly encouraged. Most kids back then wanted to be a fireman or a milkman. The message was, that change was fearful.
As a kid, I was a mixed bag of things really — I’d loads of energy, but I was hyper and cheeky and easily bored.

I was a middle child, if you can be in the middle of six kids. When you are a child in a big family you quickly learn how to be invisible when you need to be and you also learn how to drop into yourself and exist inside.

In the early days, I got initial bouts of terror about performing but I knew I had to find a way of controlling the shaking. Once I realised it was not a physical ailment or a disease, but that it was simply me stopping me, I was able to get out of my own way. It helped when other people started telling me that I had got a voice and that I had to share it.

A good while ago I had a little spark of ‘there has to be more than this’. So I went to psychotherapy in London for seven years and in Dublin for three. It helped me hugely. It taught me how to speak honestly.

My idea of misery is doing something that goes unthanked. Like nursing.
I’m obsessed with being on time and I’m unforgiving towards those who are not. People who are consistently late are sending out the message that their time is more important than yours.

My best advice is to get on with your short life, as the song goes. I can’t believe it’s my 47th birthday all of a sudden.

When I left home in Belfast and first moved to London I worked in a hospice, I busked, I did bits and pieces — but I always had the idea in the front of my mind that I was going to be a singer. I’m an optimist. I do work at staying slim and staying healthy and I’m as vulnerable and vain as the next person.

Once I started understanding the benefits of exercise — once I got how it works, that it helps our cells to regenerate themselves — I started to love it.

I don’t think of myself as being all that disciplined — but, according to other people, I am.

I love cooking and find it incredibly relaxing. And I’m a great fan of good wine. My idea of fun is planning an incredible dinner party, tidying the house, and preparing a meal with a great deal of care and attention.

If I could change one thing in Irish society I would try and eradicate our sense of self loathing. I think its a carry over from a difficult time, when we suffered oppression. It planted the idea of sin and this dark cloud that no matter how well you are doing, you shouldn’t talk yourself up.
I spend a lot of time just thinking. Sometimes I don’t write anything for ages. The trait I admire most in my friends is their loyalty.

So far life has taught me that on the one hand we are the author of own lives but, on the other, there is no plan to it at all. That’s the duality of the whole thing.

Brian Kennedy will be playing at the Ros na Rún Christmas concert in aid of Pieta House on Thursday, Nov 28, at St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church, Galway. Tickets are priced at €20 with 100% of the contributions being donated to the Pieta House West’s fundraising initiatives.


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