Interview by Mark McAvoy
WHILE she may be best known for her high-profile acting roles as Queen Catherine of Aragon in The Commitments, The Tudors and more recently as Vera Bates in Downton Abbey, Maria Doyle Kennedy is also an accomplished songwriter and recording artist.
On Friday night, she returns to Leeside for a special gig at Triskel Christchurch to support the release of her critically acclaimed new album Sing, which seems certain to be a contender for Irish album of the year.
The LP features 10 songs and was co-written with her husband and long-term musical collaborator, Cork rock veteran Kieran Kennedy. Kieran, who originally hails from Fuller’s Road, in the past played with Hot Guitars, as well as Cork bands such as Impact, T&T, Romeo Butcher and 1990.
Speaking from the Czech Republic, where she is on tour with Kieran, Maria is clearly enjoying life on the road.
She says: “We are having a real learning experience. It’s incredible! We are doing a new live set every night and travelling through the Czech countryside by day. The locals are very friendly folks and I’ve been given flowers at every gig so far. And we are here together, it doesn’t get much better really!”
Sing features notable special guest collaborations with Irish troubadours Damien Rice and Paul Brady, as well as American country/folk legend John Prine. Despite being a beautiful, simple stripped-back record, Maria’s latest offering sounds like quite a lot was creatively invested in the record.
Maria reveals: “I think Kieran and I always invest everything we have into our albums. We want them to be the best they can possibly be. Every so often, we were able to make a space in our lives just for writing — an intense weekend of work. And enough would come from that to allow us to work more slowly for a while. There are a couple of songs that didn’t make it onto this album, not because they’re not good but because somehow they weren’t connected to the others. The 10 songs on Sing seem very much like a family. The others were more like neighbours.”
Vocally, Maria is in fine form on her new record, arguably her best album to date. “It was influenced and inspired by our children and singing itself.
“There are a lot of references to singing in the songs, hence the album title.
“I think singing is a huge, powerful, glorious thing and the sound that we can make if we raise our voices together is better than any of us can make alone,” says Maria.
For more information on Maria Doyle Kennedy Visit her website www.mariadk.com.
For Triskel tickets see (021) 4272022 or http://triskelartscentre.ie