Arts

Bap Kennedy's widow Brenda releases Love Hurts EP to raise funds for Marie Curie

As the second anniversary of the death of Bap Kennedy approaches next month, his widow Brenda tells Gail Bell how the discovery of a old recording has helped in her healing

Belfast singer and musician Bap Kennedy who died in 2016
Gail Bell

LOVE still hurts for Bap Kennedy's widow Brenda, but she is finding healing power in music as the second anniversary of the Belfast singer-songwriter's death approaches.

Martin ‘Bap’ Kennedy (54) passed away at the Marie Curie hospice in Belfast on November 1 2016 following a short battle with pancreatic cancer.

To mark his anniversary, Brenda is releasing a special five-track EP entitled Love Hurts to raise funds for the charity and hospice where her husband spent his final days and where she now volunteers to help others going through the trauma of losing a loved one.

Since announcing the fundraising project on October 1 – the day she and Bap had intended to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary with a trip to Paris and renewal of their wedding vows – £3,000 has already been raised from advance sales.

"Bap always talked about the healing power of music, but this has been an extremely difficult project for me," Brenda admits. "One of the hardest things was picking up a guitar again and returning to the same studio with even the same mic still there.

"But I wanted to do something positive in tribute to Bap the man, as well as Bap the musician, and at the same time raise funds for Marie Curie who do such amazing work."

The compilation came about after Brenda had written a few new songs of her own and brought them to the studio of old friend and producer, Rod McVey, who told her he had stumbled across a recording of a duet featuring her and Bap singing the Boudleaux Bryant classic Love Hurts.

"He had found it among the archives, from 2009 and when I heard it I was immediately transported back in time," Brenda recalls. "I remembered we were in the studio with some of the guys, doing bits and pieces, and then we did that song together.

"It was a very happy memory but it also knocked me back a bit; I thought I had been making great progress but hearing it definitely knocked me back for a few weeks; it was such a powerful experience, emotionally.

"After a while, though, I thought I had to do something with it – I was going to release it as a single initially but that takes so much work, I thought I might as well find a few more tracks to put with it."

After much soul-searching, she decided to include an unreleased acoustic version of one of Bap's most famous songs, Moonlight Kiss, as well as a poignant excerpt from his final radio interview and her own tributes – in word and song.

The final track on the EP, 'e True to Your Heart, was written by Bap in the early days of their relationship and was always "really special" to them both.

A former solicitor and author of several books on Asperger's syndrome, Brenda first met Bap while giving a talk on the condition which she happened to share with her husband and which, she says, brought them even closer together.

"We 100 per cent understood each other like no-one else," she reflects. "We had a special connection through music, but both of us having Asperger's syndrome meant the connection was on a different level."

However, the late musician, who, as well as having had a prolific solo career, enjoyed successful collaborations with music legends such as Van Morrison, Steve Earle and Mark Knopfler, kept his Asperger's diagnosis private until the final weeks of his life.

"Bap credited Asperger's with being the 'engine' of his creativity and it was a big part of who he was but it also caused some problems for him, working in the industry," Brenda says.

"He recounted in his final interview that "music will never let you down, but the music business will break your heart". At times, Bap was involved in record deals with no understanding what they were about. He took people at face value and it never occurred to him that they may not always mean what they say.

"But he didn't want wealth or fame, he just wanted people to feel the magic of his music and my role now is to continue that. I think he would love this EP – he would say, 'Brenda always gets things done'. It's been intense and exhausting, but I'm so glad I did it."

:: To order a copy of Love Hurts, visit bapkennedy.com/updates/ep-release-love-hurts

Love Hurts is the new record featuring the late Bap Kennedy and his widow Brenda

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