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'One of a kind' Bap Kennedy is remembered by fellow musicians

By Ann W Schmidt

Published 03/11/2016

Bap Kennedy with his wife Brenda
Bap Kennedy with his wife Brenda
Bap performing on stage
Brother Brian paid a warm tribute

The music community has been paying tribute to the legacy of one of Belfast's best-loved singer-songwriters.

Bap Kennedy (54) passed away on Tuesday after a battle with cancer.

Spade McQuade (53), one of Bap's childhood friends and a member of his band Energy Orchard, said he "had been in a fog" since news broke.

The Florida-based musician said: "Bap was fearless in life and the last time I talked to him in a late night phone call during his illness he still had his zest for life and talked of a reunion show," he said.

"It never happened, as he just got weaker and more fragile.

"I know he fought his illness as best he could and never gave up, but it finally became too much.

"I got to tell him I loved him for the first time during that last conversation, and he told me it was all going to be okay.

"Bap really was one of a kind and I was proud to call him my friend."

Bap was diagnosed with cancer in May and by August he was told it was terminal.

Over the summer he and his brother Brian, also a well-known singer, were reunited after years of being estranged. Brian posted on Facebook about his sibling's passing.

"What a bizarre year 2016 has turned out to be... but how uplifting it is to read so much warmth and love directed here to my late eldest brother Martin/Bap, who lost his courageous battle with the cruellest of cancer last night.

"With the help of his lovely wife Brenda I was able to spend precious time with him privately before he became too ill, and for that privilege I'll be forever grateful to her.

"In the tradition of musical respect I will be honouring his memory and dedicating songs to him and Brenda at my upcoming shows here in Ireland this week and over in London this Sunday. Heartfelt thanks everyone for your kindness at this awful time for everyone."

Van Morrison posted on Facebook with a link to a song he and Bap co-wrote, Milky Way.

"Bap was loved by both fans and musicians in equal measure," he said.

Music journalist and broadcaster Stuart Bailie tweeted: "We've lost another one."

And he wrote a blog post to remember the musician.

Stuart said: "Bap Kennedy was heroic in his final months. He faced up to mortality with honesty and even humour.

"He was able to finish preparations for another album and he took joy in the fact that people were sharing his music online - old and new - and putting out their love for him at the same time.

"He had a soulmate in Brenda. They created music as a pair and became a powerful complement. More recently, he wrote about his late diagnosis of Asperger syndrome and how an appreciation of this had allowed him to think differently about his personality and his art.

"The singer that had once been inward-facing, wry and unsure had opened up, completely."

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