This much I know: Frances Black

My biggest challenge has been believing in myself.

Growing up in Dublin as part of the musical Black family, I started singing at a young age but I had no intention of becoming a singer. Of all the family, I was the least likely to go into music as a profession.

I was an introverted child. I didn’t have close friends and was quite shy. I struggled with language and often found it hard to find the words to express myself. That’s where music came in: it was a form of release.

My dream, when I was very young, was to become an air hostess or to work with children, particularly vulnerable children. I left school early and worked in a creche for a while. I had my son at 19 and my daughter at 21, so you could say I had my own little creche, and focused on rearing them.

When Johnny McDonagh of De Dannan asked me to join the band Arcady, my initial thought was ‘am I good enough?’ I did join and made great friends, toured America and had great success, but the touring became too intense for a young mother.

Then, I started collaborating with singer-songwriter, Kieran Goss, and things really took off when two songs were put on ‘A Woman’s Heart’. When I was offered my own solo deal, I couldn’t believe it. Music was becoming my career and I hadn’t even chosen it.

My life is a bit chaotic and I wish I had more structure. It can get overwhelming with too much going on. My work and personal life blends into one. I work hard at making family a priority and at keeping relationships with friends going.

My day usually starts around 9am, after a cup of tea, with phonecalls and meetings. I studied to be an addiction therapist and trained at the Rutland Centre. I divide my time between music and Rise, the organisation I set up to support family members with a loved one who has an alcohol, drug or gambling problem.

I have lived a life beyond my wildest dreams since I stopped drinking. As human beings, we all have doubts. But my sense of self worth was very low. A little voice kept saying ‘you’re not good enough’. In the process of all of that I misused alcohol.

My unhealthy relationship with alcohol was not the biggest problem in my life, it was a symptom of what was going on.

It is 100% possible to change that internal negative voice, although it takes guidance and learning about the human psyche to do so. It is only in the last 10 years that I have been able to change mine.

Before that, I always compared myself to other singers and thought I was really bad. Now, I realise that I may not be an amazing technical singer, but that I put my heart into it. The singing comes from the core of my being.

I’m not a morning person, after a lifetime of gigging, I get a lot of work done in the evenings.

I got a fit bit last year and it has become my best friend. I don’t have the best diet in the world but at least now I have the motivation to walk each day.

I’ve a bit of a phobia about swimming in the sea. I don’t like to think about all the fish that might be in there with me.

My biggest fault is working too hard. I find it hard to say no, especially to the invitations to perform for charities.

If could change one thing in our society, it would be our sometimes unhealthy relationship to alcohol. I believe it can cause depression and that, in some cases, there is a link between it and homelessness.

I have a lovely husband, Brian, of 30 years. He used to manage me and now works full time for Rise. My daughter Aoife and son Eoghan are both involved in music. She is about to release her first album, produced by him.

Recently, Kieran Goss appeared back in my life. We did some gigs together again and they were such a success that we are doing a whole lot more, just the two of us.

* Frances Black & Kieran Goss: ‘Reunion’ Tour. From February 4 to February 28 www.frances-black.net


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