Never miss a thing from Belfast and beyond – sign up for FREE newsletter direct to your inbox
Invalid EmailSomething went wrong, please try again later.When you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Your information will be used in accordance with ourPrivacy Notice.Thank you for subscribingWe have more newslettersShow meSee ourprivacy notice
A blind musician from Armagh is set to release his first lockdown single, 'Chasing A Dream' next week, ahead of a debut EP in autumn 2021.
43 year old singer Joe Kenny is totally blind and confesses to having played his guitar the wrong way round for far too long to stop now. Born with congenital glaucoma, Joe turned fully blind at the age of 5, but this didn't stop him on his road to becoming a musician.
Throughout the past year, Joe found himself forced into solitude and isolation due to lockdown, which gave him the perfect opportunity to finally work on recording and releasing an EP of his own songs.
A live performer of over 25 years, Joe has won over thousands with his passion for music, his ear for a lyric that makes you sit up and listen, and his ferocious performing abilities.
His music pays tribute to Irish folk music, and has echoes of his artists such as John Martin, U2 and Snow Patrol.
Speaking about his new song and EP, Joe says: “Song writing is still much of a mystery to me, and I hope that never changes. I had chosen my six tracks for the EP, and I was happy with that. Then one day I was sitting at home, playing the guitar, when this new song just showed itself.
”Sometimes you slave for weeks or even months on a song trying to piece together the right combination of chords and lyrics. Then a song just falls out nearly fully formed in about 10 minutes and, turns out, it’s not that bad – that’s what it was like with 'Chasing A Dream'.
Joe Kenny with his guitar
”I think it’s my attempt at rationalising why I’ve decided to release my own music now at the age of 43. During the past year, seeing how quickly the life we all took for granted changed nearly over night, I finally told myself to get focused and do something with my music. If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that the cliché is actually true – life is short and you only regret the things you haven’t done.”
Joe's project received support from the Deaf and Disabled Artists Support Fund 2020-21, managed by University of Atypical on behalf of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Department of Communities.
Joe added: “I can’t see a thing, I’m as blind as it gets. I know everyone’s experience is different but it’s not easy trying to follow a path in the music industry. I’m so grateful for the support from the University of Atypical, and d/Deaf and Disabled Artists Support Fund for helping me finish this EP. I’m really looking forward to finally releasing it in September.
Joe in the studio
“There’s no doubt in my mind that people who are blind or live with any kind of disability, still face barriers from negative attitudes and stereotyping each and every day. There’s a long way to go if we are to be taken at face value in an industry like music. But I also believe that there’s never been a better time to push those boundaries and challenge those perceptions. Your disability or the bit that people see, isn’t everything you are.”
Joe Kenny’s new single ‘Chasing A Dream’ is available from 1 July 2021 on all music download and streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music, with the release of the EP to follow in September.
You can find out more about Joe and his music by visiting joekenny.net or search for Joe Kenny Music on YouTube, Facebook and all other social media platforms.