Brian Kennedy (singer)

Brian Edward Patrick Kennedy (born 12 October 1966) is an Irish singer-songwriter and author from Belfast. He scored a number of hit singles and albums in the UK and RoI during the 1990s and 2000s. He represented Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest 2006 and finished in 10th place. Brian is the younger brother of the late musician Bap Kennedy.

Brian Kennedy
Birth nameBrian Edward Patrick Kennedy
Born (1966-10-12) 12 October 1966
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, author
InstrumentsVocalist, guitarist, keyboardist
Years active1988–present
Associated actsVan Morrison
WebsiteBrian Kennedy official site

Music career

Kennedy made his debut in 1988 as a chorus on the recordings of Van Morrison, an Irish singer / songwriter born in Northern Ireland. Kennedy came to prominence as one of Van Morrison's backing singers, appearing on a number of his albums, including A Night in San Francisco, Days Like This, The Healing Game and Back on Top and live in concert.[1]

Around this time, he also scored a minor UK hit album of his own with The Great War of Words (1990). This album featured the lead single "Captured" which was a minor hit in both the UK and Irish charts.[2][3]

In 1991, Kennedy was joined by Mark E. Nevin, formerly of Fairground Attraction to form the duo Sweetmouth. Their album, Goodbye to Songtown was released in August 1991 and featured the songs written by Nevin for a second Fairground Attraction album, which was never realised.[4]

In the mid 1990s, pop manager Simon Fuller took on Kennedy, signing him to RCA Records for his second solo album which saw greater success. Released in 1996, the album, A Better Man reached No.19 in the UK and spawned the hit singles "A Better Man" (No.28), "Life Love and Happiness" (No.27) and "Put the Message in a Box" (No.37), which also all became top 20 hits in Ireland.[5][2][3] This was followed in 1999 by the album Now That I Know What I Want, which met with less success.

In 2001, he released his fourth album Get On with Your Short Life, which rendered only a No.81 placing for its title track in the UK.[2] Later that year, he performed on the original Secret Garden version of the song "You Raise Me Up", which went on to be recorded by many other artists, such as Josh Groban and Westlife. This was the song he sang at the funeral of the footballer, George Best in late 2005.[6] His version was released again in December 2005 and early the following year became his biggest hit, released as the EP "George Best - a Tribute" with Peter Corry. The single reached No.4 in the UK charts and No.3 in Ireland.[2][3]

Kennedy was chosen as the Irish competitor for the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest in Athens, where he sang the self-penned "Every Song is a Cry for Love". His performance in the contest's semi-finals marked the 1000th song[7] to feature in the history of the Eurovision competition. Following qualification, Kennedy finished tenth in the finals on 20 May, with 93 points.[8] The song also performed well in the Irish charts, becoming a No.4 hit.[3]

Kennedy performed at the opening of new studios for his local station Belfast CityBeat in 2006. In July 2008, he joined the judging panel of the Citybeat Young Star Search, Northern Ireland's biggest kids talent search.

On 23 August 2010, Kennedy played a version of 'Christopher Street' on a small Balcony overlooking Dame Street, Dublin for the music viral show BalconyTV.[9]

Between 2011 and 12, Kennedy was a coach on the first series of The Voice of Ireland.[10] The series screened on RTÉ during the early months of 2012 and Kennedy mentored the eventual runner-up in the final, Richie Hayes.

In October 2018, he started presenting a weekly programme on radio station Tipp FM.

Personal life

Kennedy was born and grew up on the Falls Road in Belfast. As a child he suffered from Osgood–Schlatter disease in each leg.[11] He has described in public the violence of The Troubles, during his childhood and teen years.[12] He once described seeing a young man being chased and then shot dead by a soldier a few feet away from him. He also would harmonise with police, ambulance and fire engine sirens. Kennedy revealed in 2016 that he has been battling rectal cancer.[1]

Kennedy came out as gay in 2009.[13][14]


Studio albums
  • The Great War of Words (1990) – UK #64
  • A Better Man (1996) – UK #19[15]
  • Now That I Know What I Want (1999)
  • Get on With Your Short Life (2001)
  • On Song (2003)
  • Live in Belfast (2004)
  • On Song 2: Red Sails in the Sunset (2005)
  • Homebird (2006)
  • Interpretations (2008)
  • Voice (2012)
  • A Love Letter To Joni (2013)
  • Essential (2016) - re-recordings of previous material
  • Brian Kennedy Live At Vicar Street (2017)
  • Christmassy (2018)
  • "Hollow" (1990)
  • "Captured" (1990) IRE #26, UK #77
  • "Believe It" (1990)
  • "Intuition" (1995) IRE #16
  • "A Better Man" (1996) – IRE #6, UK #28
  • "Life Love And Happiness" (1996) – IRE #16 UK #27
  • "Put The Message in the Box" (1997) – IRE #18 UK #37
  • "These Days" (duet with Ronan Keating) IRE #4
  • "Get on With Your Short Life" (2002) - UK #81
  • "You Raise Me Up" (2003) - UK #91
  • "George Best – A Tribute" (with Peter Corry) (2005) – IRE #3, UK #4
  • "Every Song Is a Cry for Love" (2006) - IRE #4
  • "If You Don't Believe in Me" (2006)
  • "Destination" (2006)
  • "Try" (2013) - IRE #15
  • "Tandeming Ports of MCO" (2013)
Other Songs

Writing career

  • The Arrival of Fergal Flynn (Hodder, 2004), a novel
  • Roman Song (Hodder, 2005), a novel


  1. Biography Brian Kennedy
  2. "BRIAN KENNEDY | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  3., Jaclyn Ward - Fireball Media Group -. "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  4. "Mark Nevin | The Strange Brew". Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  5. "a better man | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  6. "Final farewell to football legend"". BBC News. 3 December 2005. Archived from the original on 27 April 2006. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  7. "Eurovision 2011: 18 bizarre facts about the contest", The Telegraph, 13 May 2011.
  8. "Eurovision Song Contest 2006". The Diggiloo Thrush. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  9. "BRIAN KENNEDY – Video Archive". Balcony TV. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
  10. Finn, Melanie (28 October 2011). "Bressie's in the hotseat in search for the Voice". Evening Herald. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  11. Jarlath Regan (30 December 2017). "Brian Kennedy". An Irishman Abroad (Podcast) (224 ed.). SoundCloud. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  12. RTE Radio On Playback, 19 April 2008.
  13. "Brian Kennedy reveals his coming-out torment". Belfast Telegraph. Independent News & Media. 1 September 2009. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  14. "At Home with Katherine McArdle". Hot Press. 11 December 2008. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
  15. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 299. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Donna & Joe
with "Love?"
Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest
Succeeded by
with "They Can't Stop The Spring"
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