Markus Michael Patrick Feehily (born 28 May 1980) is an Irish singer and songwriter. He is one of the two lead singers of the vocal group Westlife. He is the youngest in the band. Westlife has released twelve albums, embarked on thirteen world tours, and won several awards, becoming one of the most successful musical groups of all time. With 15 number one appearances, he is also the highest-charting LGBT performer on the UK Singles Chart.
1998–2012: Six as One, IOYou, Westlife
Feehily rose to fame as one of the two lead vocalists of the boy band Westlife, the other being Shane Filan. Before Westlife, Feehily, Filan and Kian Egan were members of the self-formed, six-piece, Sligo-based boy band IOYOU, previously named Six As One, which released the single “Together Girl Forever” and songs “Everlasting Love” and “Good Thing.” Louis Walsh, the manager of Boyzone, was contacted by Filan’s mother and came to know about the group. The final line-up, established on 3 July 1998, consisted of Feehily, Filan, and Egan from the original line-up, and Nicky Byrne and Bryan McFadden, new members who auditioned from Dublin. Boyzone singer Ronan Keating was brought in to co-manage the group with Walsh, assuming an advisory role.
Feehily has sung completely solo on songs for the band in several instances:
- “Imaginary Diva” (from the World of Our Own album)
- “Moon River” (from the …Allow Us to Be Frank album)
- “Talk Me Down” (from the Where We Are album)
- “Before It’s Too Late” (from the Gravity album).
During live performances, Feehily has also sung completely solo for the songs “Oh Holy Night,” “Imaginary Diva,” “Talk Me Down,” “Before It’s Too Late,” and Boy George’s “Il Adore.” In addition to being a lead vocalist, Feehily has also co-written several songs, including some with his band members. Feehily has spoken to The Boston Globe of his embarrassment about Westlife’s Rat Pack-tribute album, …Allow Us to Be Frank; he blamed Westlife’s label for forcing them to record it after Robbie Williams had success with this type of music. He dismissed the instance as a “weird time” in Westlife’s career. Despite this, he has referred to his role in Westlife as “the best job in the world.”
2015–2018: Solo career
As well as releasing music as part of Westlife, Feehily has also released music as a solo artist, under the name “Markus Feehily” rather than “Mark Feehily”, which he was known as in Westlife. In February 2015, Feehily launched his solo career with a radio premiere of his debut single “Love Is a Drug” on RTÉ 2fm in Ireland. The next day the track premiered online, via Wonderland Magazine. Moments after the premiere of the song, it was made available for pre-order on iTunes, with the official video for the track launching on his Vevo channel two weeks later.
The song was released on 19 April 2015. He released his debut solo studio album Fire on 16 October 2015. It includes the singles “Love Is a Drug” and “Butterfly.” He was a support act for Wet Wet Wet and Mariah Carey. He was also invited by Russell Crowe at Olympia Theatre, Dublin, October 1, 2017 for his “Dublin Indoor Garden Party gig” to sing “Love Was My Alibi”, written by Crowe and Carl Falk for the film The Water Diviner, which Crowe both directed and starred in, accompanied by Alan Doyle and Falk. His second album Christmas, featuring the track “River”, a rendition of the song by Joni Mitchell, was released on 1 December 2017.
2018–present: Westlife reunion with new music and concert tour
In October 2018, a video was posted to Westlife’s official social media platforms announcing the group’s reunion as a four-piece. Then in 2019 the group headlined “The 20 Tour,” named in honour of Westlife’s 20th anniversary since its formation and the release of its first single, “Swear It Again,” in 1999. In addition to touring, Westlife also released new music. “Hello My Love,” the first single from the group’s upcoming album, debuted on the Graham Norton Show on 10 and 11 January 2019.
Feehily has co-written several Westlife songs, all fifteen tracks of his debut solo album, and numerous unreleased songs.
He announced on social media that he and Shane Filan co-wrote the new single for Emeli Sandé and Ronan Keating called “One of a Kind” released in 2020.
Feehily was born in Sligo, County Sligo in Ireland. His parents are Marie (née Verdon) and Oliver Feehily, and he has two younger brothers as well as many cousins. He has expressed his love for Sligo’s picturesque and artistic environment, which he credits for playing a critical role in inspiring his musical aspirations and pursuits. As a child, singing and playing the tin whistle were important elements in his life. His favourite singer has always been Mariah Carey. Westlife collaborated with her on Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now). In his teenage years, he also enjoyed playing tennis and football.
In August 2005, he publicly revealed he was gay during an interview with the British tabloid The Sun. Feehily had recognised his sexual orientation when he was 14 or 15 years old. His family, bandmates and close friends knew his sexual orientation. Westlife’s manager Louis Walsh, however, was unaware of Feehily’s sexual orientation when he began managing the group. As the only gay member of Westlife, Feehily had kept his sexual orientation private. Unlike his bandmates, Feehily did not discuss his private life in interviews. Although he had dated women prior to his coming out. In yet another interview, he told The Sydney Morning Herald that despite the fact that the majority of Westlife’s fans are female, there had really been no negative reaction.
During the interview with The Sun, Feehily also announced his romantic relationship with British fashion photographer Kevin McDaid. Kevin was a member of the now-defunct British boy band V. The pair, who lived together, had been dating since January 2005. They had met at a Cheerios Childline Concert in Ireland. Mark did not intend on getting married right away. He was happy to know he could form a civil partnership in Britain with the recent passing of the Civil Partnership Act. In December 2007, Feehily and Kevin appeared on the cover of Attitude. The couple became engaged in February 2010. On 31 December 2011, Feehily announced via his Twitter account that the couple had split up.
Feehily is interested in charity works and supports the charity group Aware. He was shortlisted in 2011 as one of the top 50 most influential gay individuals. He congratulated his local football club Sligo Rovers on its victory in the 2011 FAI Cup Final.
On 22 February 2019, he announced his engagement to Cailean O’Neill through his Instagram account. That was during their holiday on Hurawalhi in the Maldives. On 3 October, Feehily and O’Neill announced the birth of their daughter Layla via surrogate.