Monday, May 3, 2010
Next-of-Kin: Finbarr Wright and wife Angela
NEXT-OF-KIN is a new series I have started for the Irish Independent's Weekend magazine, interviewing some well-known faces and the person closest to them about their relationship.
We kicked off with the very happy, very jolly tenor Finbarr Wright and his wife Angela...
Singer Finbar Wright has serenaded us with songs of love for two decades – but it was the siren call of his wife Angela that he found impossible to resist. The couple first met when they both attended singing classes at the Cork School of Music in the late 1980s.
“Her lesson was after mine and the routine was that she’d arrive early and sit inside the door, this gorgeous blonde,” says Finbar. “I never missed a singing lesson!”
Angela waves away his romantic take on events. “The real story is that the teacher was so enamoured with his voice that his lesson would run longer and eat into my time,” she laughs. “That’s the reason he’s a singer and I’m not!”
The couple didn’t get together until Angela went to UCC a year or so later. “Finbar tricked me,” says Angela. “He pretended he wanted access to the library to see some music scores. He had left UCC at that stage so I had to sneak him in under my card.
“It was just an excuse for him to say to me, ‘I have to make it up to you; let me take you out’!” Mindful of the age gap between them – “we say it’s ten years, but it’s nearer 12” – Angela resisted the date at first. “I remember being nervous and wanting to cancel the date the day before but I’m glad I didn’t. We just clicked. We never looked back.”
The couple’s two children are now nearly grown. Son Fergus is nearly 18 and daughter Ileana has just turned 16. “Angela was so vital to the growth of my career because she had to carry on with everything while I was away singing,” says Finbar who is celebrating 20 years as a professional singer this year with a nationwide tour. The couple also celebrate their 20th anniversary this year.
“We married in 1990, before my first album came out,” says Finbar. “Starting off and building a career in showbiz is difficult and we had lean times, certainly.”
Angela remembers one friend asking her if she knew what she was letting herself in for at the time of her marriage. “She said, ‘Are you mad? This guy is only starting down the road.’ It thought it was her who was mad. I was madly in love and there is no life unless it’s with Finbar. You can’t be in a bad mood when he’s around.”
Accordingly, the times when Finbar is away from home can be tough. “The week before he goes, I absolutely hate that,” she says. “But what’s strange is that I can’t wait until he goes because then I can physically count the days until he’s back again.”
Finbar finds that absence makes the heart grow fonder. “Definitely,” he says, “It has kept the relationship very fresh and it’s lovely coming back together. The first night I’m back, we go out to dinner and we always make time for each other.”
Angela lectures in marketing at Cork Institute of Technology. She has always worked, even with the children, and finds that when Finbar’s away she can actually get a lot done. “She studied for a PhD that way,” says Finbar, “I have to call her Doctor!”
The busy pair sometimes daydream about retreating to a little house in France. “We say that about once a month,” jokes Finbar.
“Sometimes we talk about taking a year off,” adds Angela, “but it’s all been a journey for us. I didn’t know what would happen – but it has exceeded my expectations.”
• Finbar Wright celebrate 20 years in music at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin on May 9. Dates for his other concerts nationwide are at www.finbarwright.com