Press 4th February2007
Hearing harmonies
By Daniel Bardsley

      Brian Kennedy insists he never chose to be a singer. Instead, singing chose him. He doesn't make this statement in an irritating, gushing sort of way before going on to tell the world about his "passion" for the art form.

      Instead, the way he says it makes you realise that for him, to open his mouth and produce the sort of sublime sounds that have charmed millions, is simply to do what comes naturally. "I responded to my environment melodically. I remember hearing an ambulance and thinking of the harmony. It's what I naturally did," said the Dublin-based Irishman.

      Different paths
      The path that led Kennedy to where he is now included several years spent with his brother in a rock band. Anyone who has heard that voice - it has been described as "one of the most extravagantly beautiful" in popular music -will find this hard to believe. He agrees it wasn't exactly what he was made for.

      "It was so inappropriate. It just wasn't me - drinking and smoking and all that. It made me realise I wanted to make acoustic music," the 40-year-old told tabloid!.

      After the band's break-up and a difficult period trying to make it as a solo artist, Kennedy spent many years working as a backing singer for Van Morrison, a fellow Irishman and one who, unlike the genial Kennedy, has a reputation for grumpiness.

      "I think Van's misrepresented hugely because he's private. If he meets a journalist who wants an interview, he doesn't respond well to it.

      "In fact, he's very funny, he's very warm and he works incredibly
hard. I did six years on the road with him and he was very generous to me.

      "It's so easy to write him off as someone who's grumpy, but how could somebody who's grumpy write so many beautiful love songs?" he said.

      Many talents
      Kennedy has written quite a few beautiful love songs of his own, but they are not the only things he is known for writing: he has had two novels published and is starting to think about a third.

      How does Kennedy, in Dubai for an Up Close and Personal concert
at Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre, balance the demands of music and literature?

      "It's like crop rotation. After I've been expending my energy writing and recording music, I'm very glad to be out of the studio.

      "And then, after a tour, it's very nice to be at home writing. The
thing about writing stories is that's it's about sitting in one place and
letting your brain do the travelling. It's creating a space where you can
work hard without moving.

      "You cannot do that when you're on the road - you have to give it your whole attention.

      "Writing songs and writing books are as hard as each other - it's
about creativity and trying to find a voice and trying to articulate
yourself," he said.

      Best performance

      Many people know Brian Kennedy best for his performance at the
televised funeral of Irish footballer George Best, who died in November 2005 aged 59 after a long battle with alcoholism. Like Kennedy, Best was born and brought up in Belfast.

      "It was a surreal experience from beginning to end: being there very early in the morning in this formidable building and watching people set up, knowing it was a private, very sad occasion and then realising it was going to be an incredibly public occasion. I felt for the family.

      "I felt really proud to be part of George's send off. I knew him a
little bit - George would come to [Van Morrison's] shows in Manchester and he was a very friendly man.

      "With a concert you know what to expect, but at a funeral you don't. There were people breaking down.

      "When I sang You Raise Me Up, the coffin was lifted up onto the
shoulders of the men and taken out. It was absolutely extraordinary," he said.