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My People: Harpist Ursula Burns' special relationships

By Kerry McKittrick

The 45-year-old is a harpist and comedian lives in Belfast and has one son, Max (11). She is taking part in a Culture Night Belfast showcase in Brussels as part of tonight's Culture Night celebrations.

My son, Max

Having Max gets better and better every year — I love being a mum. I’m a single parent and it can be a real balancing act with a career like mine as I’m constantly on tour. Sometimes Max comes with me — I took him to Australia for two months before and he’s such a rock. I can’t imagine life without him.

My parents, Marie and Don

My mum is a harpist and my dad worked in Ford. He’s been retired for a long time now, but has always been a bit of a comedian, too. I’ve three brothers  — Brian, along with twins Barry and Paul — and I’m the oldest of the children.

We’re a very close family and we take every opportunity we can to celebrate together. This Christmas, Max and I were in Australia and it was the very first Christmas I had ever spent away from my family.

I suffered quite badly from dyslexia at school and failed most of my exams. My family never put me under any pressure and knew I was creative.

They just let me go – I went to off to London at 14 to join a theatre company and have been touring ever since. They knew that this was how I was going to move forward.

Person I go to for advice

Anne Goody is a holistic dentist and we’ve become very good friends, so I regularly go to her for advice. She’s very together.

My best friends

I have three friends whose whole family seem to have taken Max  and I in. There’s Christina Nelson, who I studied drama with when we were younger.

Also, Patricia Sands-Robinson, who I met when I lived in Portaferry. Finally, there’s Mayte Rutzcala. These are all friends who have turned into a wonderful support network Max and I.

I have three friends whose whole family seem to have taken Max  and I in. There’s Christina Nelson, who I studied drama with when we were younger.

My mentor

Stuart Bailie is the person I go to if I ever have any queries about music, because he knows the industry so well. Stephen Beggs directed the comedy show I’m doing. He’s one of those people that you can fire any question to.

Celebrity crush

I like Tim Minchin because I like talented people and he makes me laugh. He’s very funny.

Fantasy dinner party

My first guest is Eckhart Tolle, who I saw giving a talk recently at the Waterfront.

He wrote The Power Of Now and writes a lot about consciousness.

I’d then ask Ray Kurzweil who is an artificial intelligence scientist — I would really like to see the two of them talk together.

Next, I’d ask Harpo Marx, as he’s the perfect mix of clown and harpist and is very funny.

Finally, I’d invite Hildegard of Bingen who was a visionary and polymath.

  • Culture Night Belfast is presenting over 250 free events in Belfast tonight. For more information go to

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