Irish actress and singer Maria Josephine Doyle Kennedy has established herself as being one of Ireland’s most active performers and artists with a singing and acting career spanning more than 30 years.
How was Maria Doyle Kennedy’s early life?
Doyle was born in Clontarf, Dublin, and later moved to Enniscorthy, County Wexford, where her father worked as a broker, together with her parents and siblings. She continues to assert a strong, personal connection to the town of Bray, County Wicklow, where they eventually made their home. She learned to sing at a young age and comes from a family that values the custom of using music to bring friends together.
At a party hosted by her parents when she was thirteen, she performed in front of an audience for the first time. She didn’t think about pursuing a formal singing career until after receiving a joint honor political science degree and business from Trinity College Dublin, and she didn’t think about acting until she had distinguished herself as a singer.
What is known about Maria Doyle Kennedy’s personal life?
Doyle Kennedy originally encountered artist Kieran Kennedy at a performance she gave, and he later asked her to appear on one of his demos. The pair used this occasion as their first date, and they got hitched in 1988 not long after. One of Doyle Kennedy’s boys from a former relationship is one of the couple’s four sons.
Doyle Kennedy favours her musical activities above her acting ones and sees music as the most important part of her life. She claims that when she isn’t acting, she doesn’t miss it, but she can’t go a day without singing—not even to herself.
She still feels anxious before going on stage, and she has mastered breathing and pacing techniques to help her manage her anxiety. While acting, Doyle Kennedy is drawn to roles that allow her to show both a fiery, resolute side as well as a tender, motherly side.
She has been compared to an Irish Patti Smith and draws musical inspiration from jazz vocalist Billie Holiday, American country singer John Prine, with whom she later recorded a duet for her album Sing, and folk musician Dónal Lunny.
She also takes inspiration from Downton Abbey co-stars Penelope Wilton and Maggie Smith, two of her favorite heroines. Patrick Scott, an Irish artist and one of Doyle Kennedy’s closest friends, was a major source of inspiration for her entire life. She was inspired by his belief that advancement rather than decline can still occur in old age and respected his capacity to let his life inform his art.
How was Maria Doyle Kennedy’s music career?
Together with her future husband Kieran Kennedy, Maria formed The Black Velvet Band, and music soon became a driving force in her life. When Justice Came, the group’s debut album, was released in 1989. One of the top Irish albums of the late 1980s, it was recorded in Los Angeles in 1989 and peaked at number four on the Irish charts. In 1992, she collaborated with the producers to produce King of Myself, the second Black Velvet Band album.
It was followed by the best-selling The Lady Sings The Blues compilation album, which included Doyle Kennedy along with Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, and Annie Lennox.Additionally, it helped establish Doyle Kennedy in emerging businesses across Europe, the United States, and Japan. She made her maiden tour of Europe and received excellent reviews from The Guardian and The Times.
She founded the production business Mermaid Films expressly for the documentary she made called Golden Boy, which is based on the life and work of Irish artist Patrick Scott. She also featured as a presenter on television, standing in for Tom Dunne and John Kelly. In the late 1980s, Doyle Kennedy also served as host of the musical programme Borderline on RTÉ.
Doyle Kennedy left The Black Velvet Band after the band’s albums were released in order to focus on his solo musical career. On her own Mermaid Records label, which she started in 2000, Doyle Kennedy put out music in 2001. The two main songs, “Stars Above” and “Babes,” from her debut solo album was released in the year 2001.
The 2003 compilation album Sirens, including female musicians, was organised by her. She participated in the first season of Other Voices the same year. Between 2004 and 2005, she issued the record Skullcover for a brief period of time. She covered songs including “Lovesong,” “Video Killed the Radio Star,” and “Still in Love with You” for the CD.
Then, in 2007, Doyle Kennedy issued the alternative folk album Mütter along with the tracks “Fuckability” and “Forty Days.” Later, she received a nomination for the 2008 Meteor Awards’ Best Irish Female category.
The folk-influenced Sing, her sixth album project, was out in September 2012, with Warner Music Group having the UK distribution rights. Doyle Kennedy released two additional albums in the year 2014 as well as 2015: Mütter’s Daughter, which includes previously unpublished and re-released tracks from the album Mütter, and Maria Live, which features songs played live at Vicarwith the assistance of her husband Kieran. Doyle Kennedy’s ninth studio album, Fire on the Roof of Eden, was made available on May 4, 2021.
How did Maria Doyle Kennedy’s acting career start?
Doyle Kennedy’s debut performance was as Natalie Murphy in the musical The Commitments in 1991. She was chosen for the movie, along with other well-known vocalists, by director Alan Parker.
With parts in Mark Joffe’s 1997 crime drama The Matchmaker, John Boorman’s 1998 crime drama The General, in miniseries Oliver Twist in 1999, and thetv show Queer as Folk, she proceeded to broaden her acting career. She found favor on the small screen in 2006 thanks to the TV show Hide & Seek.
In the 2017 season of the Starz historical romance drama series Outlander, Doyle Kennedy was featured as Jocasta MacKenzie Cameron.
Doyle Kennedy was chosen to play Ila in the sweeping fantasy drama The Wheel of Time in 2020.