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Having just released her fifth album, the stunning Sing, Maria Doyle Kennedy chills out and reflects on where it all went right.
Olaf Tyaransen, 13 Sep 2012
In fairness, she has many distractions, not least of which are her four sons – aged from four to 27. “Yeah, apart from the fact that I’m not incredibly prolific or whatever, we have four children so there is the odd meal to be cooked!” she laughs. “They’re all still living with us. The 27-year-old will be gone pretty soon but at the moment we’re all there. I love to have them around so it’s no great hardship. And two of them are adults, so I don’t have to clean up after them or anything.”
As if motherhood wasn’t enough, her parallel career as an actress also takes up a lot of time – occasionally, at least. Having made her screen debut in Alan Parker’s The Commitments in 1991, she has gone on to appear sporadically in further movies, theatrical productions and such hit TV shows as The Tudors, Dexter and Downton Abbey.
Although she’s been quite successful, she still views herself primarily as a musician. Acting is something she does, while singing is something she has to do.
“That’s what I do, yeah,” she affirms. “That’s how I see it, but that’s just because music is a huge part of the fabric of my life. My mother says she can’t remember a time, even when I was a tiny child, when I wasn’t singing. I wouldn’t spend a day without singing even if I’m not gigging or something, just singing to myself or learning a song or listening to music or whatever. Whereas when I’m not acting I don’t think about it. However, it’s not that I don’t enjoy it. It’s another form of storytelling and is very enjoyable.
“But it’s not like I’m turning things down every day or anything,” she continues. “I suppose I am kind of choosy in some ways. I don’t do anything I think is shit. I’m appalled by some of the things I read, how bad they are and how bad the parts for women are. Increasingly it’s getting better. Sometimes I wouldn’t be able to do something because it’d mean that I’d be away for too long. I try and not be away for more than a fortnight. Even gigging, I sort of do guerilla gigging, gig for ten days and then go again for ten days and you’re sort of able to keep it all balanced if you do that. And once again there are some things I wanted that I didn’t get.”