A Conversation on the Craft of Songwriting with  Paul Williams  &  Brian Kennedy

Featuring Special Live Performances

Thursday 14th July
IMRO, Copyright House, Pembroke Row, Dublin 2
6.30pm – 8.30pm

Interviewer: Niall Stokes, Editor Hot Press

We have a limited number of places available for this event. If you would like to attend please email your name to

Please include the word ‘Songwriting’ in the subject matter line when you are sending your email.

Paul Williams is an Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe winning Hall of Fame songwriter. He is a recipient of The National Music Publishers President’s Award and is President and Chairman of the Board of ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers).

Recognised as one of America’s most prolific and gifted lyricists and composers, Paul’s standards have been recorded by such diverse musical icons as Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, David Bowie, Daft Punk, Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughn, Johnny Mathis, The Carpenters, Luther Vandross, REM, Mel Torme, Anne Murray, Diana Krall, Gladys Knight and Diana Ross. His songs have also found favour with Country legends including Chet Atkins, Kris Kristofferson, Charlie Pride, Crystal Gayle, Lynn Anderson, The Oak Ridge Boys, Diamond Rio and Neil McCoy.

When asked which song is his favorite, Paul is quick to respond, “That’s easy! It’s “The Rainbow Connection”. It’s a thrill to hear my words interpreted by such inimitable talents as Willie Nelson, the Dixie Chicks, Sarah McLachlan, Judy Collins, Jason Mraz and Kermit the Frog!” “The Rainbow Connection”, from the children’s classic The “Muppet Movie”, is one of two Paul Williams’ songs that grace the American Film Institute’s list of the top movie songs of all time; the second, “Evergreen” is from the award winning Streisand/Kristofferson remake of A Star Is Born. Additional song scores include the cult favorites Phantom of the Paradise and Ishtar, as well as “The Muppet Christmas Carol”, “Bugsy Malone.”, and Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas, the latter of which has now been adapted for the stage. His recent work has remained wonderfully diverse, from creating and writing the songs and story for Disney’s A Muppets Christmas: Letters To Santa, to writing with the Scissor Sisters, to penning the music and lyrics for Garry Marshall’s theatrical sensation Happy Days.

Although most people came to know the witty Mr. Williams as one of Johnny Carson’s recurring favorites on The Tonight Show, or as an actor in dozens of films, television comedies and dramas, it is his musical legacy that continues to inspire. “We’ve Only Just Begun”, “Rainy Days And Mondays”, “You and Me Against The World”, “Just An Old Fashioned Love Song”,”Let Me Be The One” all remain pop classics and are performed by Paul in venues from New York to the Philippines.

Publicly lauded for his work as a songwriter, performer, actor and humanitarian, Paul predicts he’ll be remembered for playing Little Enos in the Smokey and the Bandit trilogy and for his lyrics to “The Love Boat” theme, although it is the lyrics from Bugsy Malone, recast for a recent Coke commercial, that aptly sum up his philosophy: “You give a little love and it all comes back to you; You’re gonna’ be remembered for the things that you say and do”. As a devoted husband to writer Mariana Williams and proud father, Paul considers his son Cole, and daughter Sarah, to be his best work.

Brian Kennedy survived a childhood on the infamous Falls Road, West Belfast at the height of its hellish history against all the odds to carve an extraordinary career in music.  In his own words he says, “I shouldn’t have become a singer really, given where and how my life started, but my voice had other plans and saved me in the end.” That voice changed the course of his whole life forever.

From harmonising with ambulances as a child to finally overcoming stage fright, his gradual ascent was nothing short of miraculous. He busked on the dangerous streets of his hometown whatever the political weather until a sudden escape to London, when only 18 saw him surviving in the only way he knew how. He sang unaccompanied in the underground stations and outside the Dominion Theatre, sometimes literally in order to eat and until he finally saved up enough money for a guitar. He lived in various illegal squats before eventually being discovered by the now legendary Svengali Simon Fuller- [Pop Idol, Annie Lennox, The Spice Girls.]

Brian is first and foremost a live performer and songwriter. His own words, “Music is my lifeblood .” His constant touring from Ireland and the UK to Australia, Germany and the USA, including the major global festivals, has resulted in an every-growing international fan base the old fashioned way over a phenomenal twenty-five year career in the rollercoaster ride that is the unpredictable music industry.

His work with Van Morrison has been well documented. The Belfast legend invited Brian to a rehearsal one day that resulted in him being featured as guest lead singer on the now unforgettable ‘Blues & Soul Revue’.  Courtesy of Van’s continuing mentoring and generosity, Brian ended up sharing vocal duties on stages across the globe over a six-year period with Morrison and a breathtaking cast of some of the greatest artists in history: Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles and John Lee Hooker to name but a few. Madison Square Gardens was a far cry from the Falls Road. That unique Irish voice can be heard harmonising and answering Van on five of his major hit albums.

As if that wasn’t impressive enough, you might be less familiar with Brian’s impromptu performances with Stevie Wonder at Ronnie Scotts in London. Incredibly and proudly he is one of only a few to have also sung with the late legendary Jeff Buckley at Sin É in New York.

Throughout the relentless touring with Van Morrison, Brian somehow managed to maintain a stream of chart-making albums. ‘A Better Man’ (1996) and ‘Now That I Know What I Want’ (1999), both went platinum at No.1 and earned him the awards of Irish Best Male Artist and Irish Best Male Album, as did the highly acclaimed ‘Homebird’ (2006) and cover album ‘Interpretations’ (2008). But it was Brian’s heart wrenching LIVE performance of ‘You Raise Me Up’ at the funeral of football Legend George Best that earned him a spot in the top 5 of the UK charts.

He is a natural TV & Radio host as well as lead performer on diverse international stages, from New York’s Riverdance on Broadway for 9 months of over 300 performances to Eurovision 2006 in Athens. Remarkably Brian also found time to publish 2 fiction novels that were an instant success and he continues to receive many prestigious awards, including the 2010 Ireland Meteor Lifetime Achievement Award for Music, and an even rarer Honorary Doctorate Degree of Letters by the University of Ulster for his contribution to the Arts.

Recently Brian has been very busy in the studio and has just finished recording a 32 track double CD ‘Essential Collection’ comprising all brand new recordings from the past and present including a duet with Boy George. Brian maintains that “music is the language of emotion,” and after all his years gigging and recording with Van Morrison he prizes the live gig above all else. Seeing and hearing is the only way to experience this national treasure of a man.

This October Brian Celebrates two birthdays. His iconic album ‘A Better Man’ will be 20 and that same week the man himself turns 50, so what better place to celebrate than on stage doing what he loves best. He will play the entire album in Dublin’s prestigious Vicar Street venue on October 13th 2016.

When asked what else is left for “Dr Kennedy” to achieve he simply answers playfully, ” Ah sure I’m only getting started!”

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