Bondings: Frances Black and Aoife Scott

By Andrea Smith
From Sunday Independent

Popular singer Frances Black and her daughter Aoife recently recorded a duet for Frances’ forthcoming new album, which was the first time they have sang publicly together. However, while Frances has achieved a huge level of international success in her singing career, she is the first to admit that being a mother is the most important thing in her life.

“I really wanted to have a little boy first, and I was thrilled when I had Eoghan. I was very excited when I found out I was pregnant again, and I really wanted a girl this time. My luck hadn’t been great up to that point, so I couldn’t believe it when Aoife was born,” she says, referring to the fact that she was a teenage mother, and rushed into an early marriage that didn’t last.

Immediately after Aoife’s birth, Frances became very ill and began to haemorrhage really badly – she needed eight pints of blood and doctors had to work frantically to fix the problem, although it didn’t detract from the joy of the occasion. “I was on a high for ages after the birth,” says the singer, who is now very happily married to her second husband Brian. “Aoife was the most beautiful little thing, and she was always smiling. Having my two children was the most amazing experience of my life, and I’m really close to them both. I’ve done many different things in my life, and had all sorts of highs and lows and ups and downs, but the one thing I wanted to be was a good mother.”

Aoife is now 23, and works as an assistant editor in post production house, The Farm. Having been born into the well-known Black family, she realised from an early age that people seemed to be aware of her family. “It was really exciting when Mam became a singer, and then when the whole Woman’s Heart album happened. I was about ten at the time, and I got to go on the tour, and even got to sing on stage at the end when all of the performers came out together – I remember loving it! It was very weird for us as children, because people started coming up to talk to her in the street the whole time, and they still do. I used to get very protective of her, and I still am really!”

For Frances, combining a successful music career with motherhood had its challenges. “It was very hard being away on tour when the children were small, particularly when I had to miss Eoghan’s confirmation because of a long-arranged tour of Australia. It was what made me become a solo artiste, because then I could have control of my touring commitments.”

“I still really miss her when she goes away,” says Aoife, “and l’m always on the phone to her. The reason I haven’t moved out of home yet is that she’s away a lot with work, and I don’t get to see her a lot - I know if I moved out, I’d see her even less. I consider Mam to be my best friend. I regard her opinion as the most important one of all – if she doesn’t think something is okay, then it’s not. We have a very open relationship, and I wouldn’t be afraid to say anything to her.”

Frances has had a well-documented battle with alcoholism, and she recently spoke publicly about her relapse in 2002, which occurred after 14 years of sobriety around the time of her own beloved mother Patty’s illness and subsequent passing. “It was a shock for all of us when I relapsed, but I think the whole experience brought us all closer together and made us stronger as a family.”

“It definitely gave us a greater awareness and openness,” agrees Aoife. “It has helped me to understand what other people go through, especially those who might be dealing with addiction in their own families.”

The mother and daughter are very close, and they look alike and have the same warm, funny, chatty personality. “We are very similar,” says Aoife, “although I think I’m more outspoken, like my granny. I say what I think straight away, whereas Mam would be a bit more tactful.”

Frances’s singing talent has been passed though the genes and her son Eoghan (25) is pursuing a full-time career in music. While Aoife also has a great voice, she chose to do a degree in digital media, as working with cameras was her other great passion. She recently shot and edited the video for Bell X One’s, First Born., and would love to become more involved in the area of shooting live music gigs. She hasn’t completely ruled out the idea of a future career in music though. “I love singing, although I’m a bit shy a bit when it comes to getting up and performing,” she says. “I think that I’ve come to the conclusion that I prefer being an editor. Mam has always been so encouraging of whatever Eoghan and I did - she never criticised us, even when we did anything badly. I think she made sure that we had good self-esteem because it was something that she struggled with herself. My mam is very beautiful, but she doesn’t know it, and I wish she had better belief in herself and could see all she has achieved.”

The support works both ways. “Aoife is fantastic and we have a really close relationship,” says Frances. “ She is always there for me when I need her. I was really lost when my mam died, and Aoife was such a source of comfort for me at that time, as were Eoghan and Brian. Aoife is very strong, and she has a fantastic will to get things done. , She’s a very hard worker, just like my mother - I can see a lot of her in Aoife. The only thing is that I think she could do with taking more time out for herself, because she can’t say no to people.”

In combination with her flourishing music career, Frances recently went back to college to train to be an addiction counsellor, which was a challenge for the singer as she left school at 14, due to a lack of faith in her own abilities. “Mam is doing essays that are harder than the ones I had to do in college, and she’s getting unbelievable marks,” says Aoife. “She is so caring and thoughtful, and she’s putting in hours of work so she can help other people who are going though the pain she went through. I’m unbelievably proud of her for doing it, and for her recovery, even apart from all the number one albums and all that side of things.”

• Frances Black will release her eighth solo album, “This Love Will Carry,” on February 3rd. Her tour dates include the Olympia Theatre on Jan. 29th, the Tipperary Excel on February 3rd, The LIT Millennium, Limerick on the 4th, and the Everyman Palace Theatre on the 5th. See www.frances-black.net for full list of national tour dates.