This year’s Oh Yeah Legend Award is in association with Marie Curie, Belfast and is dedicated to the singer-songwriter Bap Kennedy, who died in 2016. This is in recognition of Bap’s enduring legacy, chiefly as solo artist and earlier with his band Energy Orchard. The Oh Yeah Music Centre, Belfast’s dedicated music hub, presents the Legend Award.
The award will be made to Bap’s wife Brenda by Ralph McLean of BBC Radio Ulster during the NI Music Prize on November 12th. The event will be a specially produced live stream aired as a YouTube Premiere at 8 pm.
Bap (otherwise known as Martin) Kennedy was greatly loved in his hometown of Belfast and highly respected in Nashville, New York, London and beyond. He worked with artists such as Van Morrison, Steve Earle, Nanci Griffith, Shane MacGowan and Mark Knopfler. His music was featured extensively on the soundtrack to the film Serendipity (2001), starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale.
His albums include Domestic Blues, Lonely Street, The Big Picture, Howl On, The Sailor’s Revenge, Let’s Start Again and Reckless Heart. He had a huge affection for artists such as Hank Williams and Elvis, but he developed a unique style of his own, marked by wry humour, Celtic melancholy and a resonant sense of place.
Following a cancer diagnosis in 2016, Bap started a series of powerful blog entries. People found Bap’s blog very moving and it was shared widely in all parts of the world. In his final months, Bap revealed publicly for the first time that he had a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome, and talked candidly about the part this condition had played in his life and career.
In the four years since his passing, Bap’s art and his humanity are being appreciated more than ever. It is only right that his achievements should be recognised with a Legend Award.
Brenda Kennedy said, “This is great news! So many people who love Bap, at home and abroad, are going to be delighted. Bap is a legend for so many reasons: for his remarkable achievements, his great musical legacy, the legendary life he led, and for all that he quietly overcame. As a West Belfast teenager, Bap was determined to “lead an interesting life” and he did that alright! His music took him all round the world and earned him the admiration and affection of musicians and fans alike. But to me, Bap was a legend above all for the lovely, warm, genuine man that he was.
Many thanks to Oh Yeah Belfast, and to everyone who has appreciated and supported Bap’s music over the years.“
Conor O’Kane from Marie Curie, Belfast said, “It is wonderful for Marie Curie to be included in the celebration of Bap Kennedy’s exceptional talent. Thanks to Oh Yeah Music Centre and especially Brenda Kennedy and family for inviting Marie Curie to be part of the celebration and recognition of Bap’s music. Marie Curie’s ability to care for people with terminal illness, like Bap, depends on voluntary donations. In this a very difficult year for everyone, we very much appreciate the association with the Legend award and are grateful to anyone that can donate in support of our work across the whole of Northern Ireland.”
Charlotte Dryden of Oh Yeah said, “We are honoured to be making this presentation. Bap Kennedy was and still is a much-loved Belfast musician; his music reached and resonated with people all over the world. That music and his legacy remains so strong and we feel privileged to be adding his name to the Legend series at the Oh Yeah Music Centre.”
Previous recipients of the Oh Yeah Legend Award are:
Terri Hooley (2008), Henry McCullough (2009), The Undertones (2010), Stiff Little Fingers (2011), Gary Moore (posthumous, 2012), Therapy? (2014), Divine Comedy (2015), Ash (2016), Vivian Campbell (2017), Jackie Flavelle (posthumous, 2018), Snow Patrol (2019).
The Oh Yeah Legend Award 2020 is in association with Marie Curie, Belfast and supported by Colin Reid.