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Cork Profile

Fiona Kennedy, singer/songwriter

Thursday, 4th May, 2017 1:00am

Name: Fiona Kennedy

Age: Over 40!

Lives: Bishopstown, Cork

Family: Husband Andy, daughters Aisling and Alannah

Pets: One dog, two budgies, two goldfish

Favourite thing about Cork: In Cork, you’re never too far away from beautiful beaches and lovely places to go.

Least favourite thing about Cork: The speeding and road rage that’s creeping in over the last few years.

One thing you’d change about Cork: I would change our attitude to taking care of teenagers and start providing more places for them to go to spend time and socialise with their peers in a relaxed, pressure-free environment.

 

When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up?

Believe it or not, a marine biologist. I always loved collecting specimens at the seaside and thought it would be great to actually get paid for collecting seaweed and little shrimps from the rockpools. That changed to consistently wanting to become a singer though, after I formed my first band in second class in primary school. I was singing and playing guitar and my friend played the comb – we were weak for ourselves, as they say in Cork.

 

Tell us about your career progression to-date

After my leaving Cert, I studied for my degree and HDip in German, French and Italian in UCC. I was doing gigs throughout and writing songs, so it was a natural progression for me to continue playing after I left college.

I then became the winner of Ireland’s first X Factor type televised talent show called ‘Screen Test’ and I quickly became a regular on iIrish TV and radio.

I went on to have my own TV show, an hour-long special and recorded my first single, produced by Declan Sinnott, then my first album – which was nominated for an IRMA Award.

I travelled to the States many times, to Germany and Italy and built up a fantastic following. Then, when I got married and my children came along, changes had to be made, so I went back to doing something I had done as a teenager, singing at wedding ceremonies. This proved to be something I really enjoyed and excelled at and I still do it today.

However, I did really miss performing my own gigs, particularly with a band. Over the past year or two, I’ve started doing some gigs again at the Lee Delta Blues Club and at the Cork Jazz Festival. These were so successful that it motivated me to record a new album with producer and guitarist extraordinaire, Bill Shanley.

I’ll be releasing the album, only the second one in a career spanning 25 years, in a few weeks’ time, so I’m absolutely terrified but so excited at the same time!

 

What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do?

I just love when people leave my gig on a high; nothing beats that feeling! If I’m playing for someone’s wedding ceremony, it’s the special feeling of being there and being a part of one of the most amazing times of their lives. I just love it when a couple writes to me after the wedding to say how much I added to their day.

 

What motivates you? Just wanting to live every day to its fullest and to get better at what I do all the time.

 

What advice would you give your 15 year old self? Well, just looking back at old photos of myself at around that age I’d say, “Fi, would you ever get rid of those awful hand-knitted woolly jumpers!”

 

If you weren’t in the job you have, what would you be doing? Teaching English as a foreign language.

 

What is your greatest life or career achievement to-date? My life achievement so far I think is that I didn’t sacrifice my children to my career It did my career no good but I’m so glad I was there for them growing up. On the career front, this new album about to be released is something I’m ridiculously proud of.

 

Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life? I’ve been influenced very much by my parents, both of whom are well and living nearby and by certain musicians and singers I’ve known and worked with. Andy, my husband of the past 10 years, has had a great influence on me and his support and absolute belief in me has been a huge factor in where I am now in my career.

 

What is the life dream now? To tour with the band, promoting the album and just playing music that I love. Maybe some more TV and getting more confident in my songwriting.

 

How do you switch off? Boring I know, but long walks, preferably by the sea. I’m partial to looking at property in West Cork as well that I’ll never be able to afford but it has a calming affect!

 

What is your favourite Cork memory? Walking through the channel on Barleycove beach at midnight, carrying the guitars over our heads to keep them dry, on our way back to the tents after a session in O’Sullivans in Crookhaven.

 

What is your favourite place in Cork? At the moment, Tthe beautiful Kingsley Hotel, overlooking the Lee.

 

Do you have a favourite quote or motto? A copy of the Desiderata hangs in my kitchen. My favourite lines are: “With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.”

 

When are you at your happiest? At the beach.

 

Any regrets? Not on a personal level. Careewise though, I should’ve done this album years ago.

 

What is your hidden talent? I’ve done quite a lot of fly-fishing and can even tie flies myself. My dad is an expert and was on the Irish fly-fishing team for many years and he taught me. My brother Mick carries on the tradition.

 

What might we be surprised to know about you? I’ve been known to do a bit of bird-watching - a closet twitcher!

 

Anything else you’d like to share with us? I think that’s quite enough about me but I am very much looking forward to singing at the Network Cork Business Women of the Year Awards on 19 May at the Rochestown Park Hotel. It should be a great night.

When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up?

Believe it or not, a marine biologist. I always loved collecting specimens at the seaside and thought it would be great to actually get paid for collecting seaweed and little shrimps from the rockpools.

That changed to consistently wanting to become a singer though, after I formed my first band in second class in primary school.

I was singing and playing guitar and my friend played the comb – we were weak for ourselves, as they say in Cork.

 

Tell us about your career progression to-date

After my Leaving Cert, I studied for my degree and HDip in German, French and Italian in UCC. I was doing gigs throughout and writing songs, so it was a natural progression for me to continue playing after I left college.

I then became the winner of Ireland’s first X Factor type televised talent show called ‘Screen Test’ and I quickly became a regular on Irish TV and radio.

I went on to have my own TV show, an hour-long special and recorded my first single, produced by Declan Sinnott, then my first album – which was nominated for an IRMA Award.

I travelled to the States many times, to Germany and Italy and built up a fantastic following. Then, when I got married and my children came along, changes had to be made, so I went back to doing something I had done as a teenager, singing at wedding ceremonies. This proved to be something I really enjoyed and excelled at and I still do it today.

However, I did really miss performing my own gigs, particularly with a band. Over the past year or two, I’ve started doing some gigs again at the Lee Delta Blues Club and at the Cork Jazz Festival. These were so successful that it motivated me to record a new album with producer and guitarist extraordinaire, Bill Shanley.

I’ll be releasing the album, only the second one in a career spanning 25 years, in a few weeks’ time, so I’m absolutely terrified but so excited at the same time!

 

What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do?

I just love when people leave my gig on a high; nothing beats that feeling! If I’m playing for someone’s wedding ceremony, it’s the special feeling of being there and being a part of one of the most amazing times of their lives.

I just love it when a couple writes to me after the wedding to say how much I added to their day.

 

What motivates you?

Just wanting to live every day to its fullest and to get better at what I do all the time.

 

What advice would you give your 15 year old self?

Well, just looking back at old photos of myself at around that age I’d say, “Fi, would you ever get rid of those awful hand-knitted woolly jumpers!”

 

If you weren’t in the job you have, what would you be doing?

Teaching English as a foreign language.

 

What is your greatest life or career achievement

to-date?

My life achievement so far I think is that I didn’t sacrifice my children to my career.

It did my career no good but I’m so glad I was there for them growing up.

On the career front, this new album about to be released is something I’m ridiculously proud of.

 

Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life?

I’ve been influenced very much by my parents, both of whom are well and living nearby, and by certain musicians and singers I’ve known and worked with. Andy, my husband of the past 10 years, has had a great influence on me and his support and absolute belief in me has been a huge factor in where I am now in my career.

 

What is the life dream now?

To tour with the band, promoting the album and just playing music that I love. Maybe some more TV and getting more confident in my songwriting.

 

How do you switch off?

Boring I know, but long walks, preferably by the sea.

I’m partial to looking at property in West Cork as well, that I’ll never be able to afford, but it has a calming affect!

 

What is your favourite Cork memory?

Walking through the channel on Barleycove beach at midnight, carrying the guitars over our heads to keep them dry, on our way back to the tents after a session in O’Sullivans in Crookhaven.

 

What is your favourite place in Cork?

At the moment, Tthe beautiful Kingsley Hotel, overlooking the Lee.

 

Do you have a favourite quote or motto?

A copy of the Desiderata hangs in my kitchen.

My favourite lines are: “With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.”

 

When are you at your happiest?

At the beach.

 

Any regrets?

Not on a personal level. Careewise though, I should’ve done this album years ago.

What is your hidden talent?

I’ve done quite a lot of fly-fishing and can even tie flies myself.

My dad is an expert and was on the Irish fly-fishing team for many years and he taught me. My brother Mick carries on the tradition.

 

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I’ve been known to do a bit of bird-watching - a closet twitcher!

 

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I think that’s quite enough about me but I am very much looking forward to singing at the Network Cork Business Women of the Year Awards on 19 May at the Rochestown Park Hotel.

It should be a great night.

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