‘I’m lucky to be alive,’ says singer-songwriter Brian Kennedy as he releases his new album
Releasing a new album and entertaining audiences with stunning live performances is a remarkable feat for any singer after more than 30 years.
But for Brian Kennedy, that pales into insignificance when compared to his triumph over the devastating health issues that have plagued him.
He endured a litany of horrors, from the effects of rectal cancer to cardiac arrest and Covid.
Rectal cancer left him with colostomy and urostomy bags. He had to relearn to walk three times.
If he were a character in a novel, you’d say his story is too far-fetched to be believable.
“I know, it’s so crazy isn’t it?” Brian then acknowledges that he chats with the Sunday World, sounding more optimistic than ever.
“And to survive it! he adds, “because I know people who only had one of the things I had and never got over it. You just think, well, there’s still work to be done. do, there’s more music to do, and after all that I managed to make another record. Fair play for me.
I tell Kennedy he’s the most positive man in the world I’ve ever met. “I’m going to take this title, it sounds very good,” he laughs.
“Like I always say to my homies, ‘what’s the alternative?’ I’m lucky to be alive, my phone is full of people who are gone, I have little bits of art around the house from people who were very close to me and have moved on.
“So I think it’s helpful to make the decision to get up every morning and say, ‘Okay, what better can I do today?'”
He is acutely aware of how he nearly died, especially the night he had a heart attack in June last year. Feeling unwell in the early hours of the morning, he walked to nearby St James’s Hospital.
“That one was flying pretty close to the sky, that one,” Brian says, recalling the time he was told he was having a heart attack. “Fortunately, I had had the good sense to head to A&E when I felt the weirdest thing I’ve ever felt in my life. And I was lucky to get the right treatment from the right surgeon at the right time and the surgery worked.
“I never saw any of those things come and then survive them because Covid could have really been the end of me, given that my immune system was sub-par. I was still recovering from having my ribcage cut in half I was wearing a splint to keep it all knit together And just when I was sort of recovering from the Covid hit and one of the worst things about Covid is you can’t quit to cough and if you have stitches or something like that it’s a nightmare.”
Today, Brian is philosophical about all his experiences. “Yes, I had to relearn to walk not once, not twice, but three times and I had the cancer and the heart attack and all those things, but it could always be worse. Look what is happening in Ukraine , look what happens anywhere. Up and down the road, someone is shot or stabbed and killed, or someone has some really terrible news from the hospital. I’m just emphasizing the positive .
Looking back, Kennedy says his traumatic experiences growing up as a gay teenager on Falls Road in Belfast and being constantly harassed and beaten gave him an instinct for survival.
“If you got out somehow, you got a slap in the mouth,” Brian says.
“If you spoke a certain way, if you were a little bit feminine, if you were a little bit other than an archetypal Falls Road tough boy type and stuck your head above the parapet, you would get a slap in the mouth. , punch in the head. If you weren’t good at fighting and football, then good luck, and I was all of that.
“I was sensitive and I guess a classic gay kid in that I really gravitated towards girls, not for the reasons of other boys, but because I was fascinated by them and they made me laugh and I made them laugh.
“Being gay back then was illegal, it was frowned upon and there was shouting from the pulpit every Sunday about gay people burning in hell. I don’t know why they even talked about it, but they did .
“Thank goodness I managed to move to England when I did, and that’s where my musical adventure really began. Singing was my key to getting out of Northern Ireland and into the rest of the world.
“Singing for me is absolutely my identity and my calling more than anything else in the world. What got me through the last three or four years of real hardship was being able to get on stage and sing a few songs. My voice was my absolute saviour.”
- BRIAN Kennedy’s new single John Condon is out now. His new folk album, Folkie, will be released on May 27
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