The Shape I'm In: Red Hurley

IF I appear to be breathless it’s because I’m walking as I’m talking,” says showbusiness legend Red Hurley.

With work spanning two sides of the Atlantic, multi-tasking has probably become a way of life.

He is enjoying a career revival thanks to his friendship with Dr Maya Angelou, the American Poet Laureate and Pulitzer prize winner, who refers to him as her ‘son’ whenever they appear on stage together.

“I was introduced to her in New York and we hit it off. I was then invited to sing for her 80th birthday and she suggested that I sing some spiritual songs — River Deep, Motherless Child, Steal Away to Jesus. We did an album of songs and she did the narration — it was amazing, a lot of people seem to have taken to it.”

Along with performing with the Harlem Gospel Choir, the two have also worked on a CBS TV show with a second one underway.

Married to longtime partner Norma, they have two daughters, Kristina, 13, and Stephanie, 12. He is also dad to Kimberley, now in her late 20s, from his first marriage.

Due to hit the official retirement age on Sept 11, Red Hurley has no intention of quitting. “Money was never one of my interests to tell you the truth, though from time to time I had loads of it and none of it.”

But what if he had, say, €2m in the bank? “I don’t think so — I like doing what I am doing. Sure €2m wouldn’t last long anyway.”

¦ How Great Thou Art, starring Red Hurley and featuring Aled Jones, runs from Feb 3 to 8 at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin.

What shape are you in?

Not too bad for my age — I’m nearly 40 now! I play a bit of golf. It’s a great way to relax. I also love to walk — I’d walk for miles.

Do you have any health concerns?

If I’m a good boy my health is ok. But if I’m a bold boy and party too much it comes back to haunt me. When I’m doing a concert I need clarity in the voice and that comes from being careful, so no alcohol for at least two or three days before.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

Brown bread and Flora pro.activ.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

A pint of Guinness, or Murphy’s if I’m in Cork.

What would keep you awake at night?

Worrying about security in case anyone would break in during the night when we’re in Dublin. Not for my own sake but for my wife and kids. I don’t worry too much about it when I’m in Florida because we have a security gate.

How do you relax?

By trying not to get too excited and upset about things. Stuff that used to bother me years ago doesn’t bother me any more.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Doug Sanders, he’s my best pal in the US. My friend Harvey Hall and his wife Beachie. And of course Dr Maya Angelou, but unfortunately she cannot travel overseas. I would also love to have Kenny G, one of the greatest saxophonists in the world, and Ray Charles if he was still alive.

What’s your favourite smell?

Tsar eau de cologne for men and Opium on women.

What would you change about your appearance?

I’m prone to putting a bit of weight on in the face and neck. If I’m a bold boy that’s where it hits first.

When did you last cry?

My sister’s husband died a couple of month’s ago and I don’t know why it affected me so badly but it did. I found myself crying profusely — it overwhelmed me.

What trait do you least like in others?

Rudeness. I don’t like all the vulgarity on the TV today. I think it’s a bit sad we have to resort to that to be funny.

What trait do you least like in yourself?

When I’m unnecessarily short or abrupt with people sometimes. I’m pretty quick to apologise if I am.

Do you pray?

I do, everyday. I don’t get to Mass as often as I should do but my youngest daughter makes sure I do.

What would cheer up your day?

When things come together, especially with regards to the career.


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