Born into a musical family, since the age of five Anne Marie was on stage in four part harmony with her three older sisters, entertaining audiences in the U.S. Midwest. At an even earlier age, their father, a promising young attorney, tragically drowned on a fishing trip. Their mother, Veronica, was left with five children aged six-months to seven years. Veronica worked full time to support the family and later took on an additional part time job to pay for piano lessons, a mandatory requirement for the Kenny children.
At 21, Anne Marie left home for Paris, France, where she discovered an Argentine guitarist who accompanied her as she made her debut on the streets of Paris. Playing to crowds on the Champs Elysées, a producer from the ORTF Radio and Television heard the duo and invited them to audition for Mireille et le Petit Conservatoire, a popular program throughout France. They became regulars on Mireille’s weekly radio and monthly television broadcasts, where Anne Marie was introduced to an agent who booked her in clubs and concert halls throughout France, and to French composers who wrote songs for her.
Returning to Omaha, she met her future husband, John Bull, an advertising executive from Chicago. John longed to fulfill his artistic dream of living and painting in Paris, the city of light. So Anne Marie and John, who signed his paintings Jobul, moved to Paris. She to sing, he to paint.
She and John lived on the Île Saint-Louis in Paris for five years before moving to Nice. During their ten years in France, Anne Marie performed at venues such as the Paris Ritz Hotel, The Prince de Galles Hotel, Monte Carlo's Beach Regency, the Salle Cortot, and Théatre d'Opérette de Cannes. She also concertized in Prague at the famous Reduta Club Theater, and in the U.S. at Eighty-Eight's in Greenwich Village, and at Omaha venues such as M's Pub, The French Café, and the Joslyn Art Museum. Her specialties span classical and broadway music as well as French and Italian repertoire. As an actress, she played the role of Jenny, the leading man’s secretary (à la Miss Moneypenny), in three feature movies filmed on the Riviera, in addition to principal roles in plays and operettas.
Anne Marie had the privilege to work for over thirty years with Janine Reiss, one of the greatest vocal coaches of our time. Janine was not only a teacher, but a mentor and dear friend. In earlier days, Anne Marie received the foundation of classical voice training with the late Diana Morrison and Mary Fitzsimmons Massie, in addition to taking master classes at the Juilliard and Peabody conservatories and attending semester classes at one of the most prestigious French grandes écoles, École Normale de Musique de Paris.
In 1989 when the Iron Curtain fell in Germany and the Soviet bloc countries gained their freedom, Anne Marie was inspired by the Velvet Revolution happening in Czechoslovakia, the country of her mother's ancestors. She had already been intellectually and spiritually moved by the writings of Vàclav Havel, the author, playwright, and Czech dissident who had suddenly become the newly elected president of the country.
A Jobul painting of the view from the balcony of our apartment at 16, quai d'Orléans on the Île Saint Louis
Photo for a publicity poster promoting a nightclub gig at the Beach Regency hotel in Nice, France
Swept up in the excitement, from her Nice apartment, she wrote a poem-song with lyrics in French, English and Czech and sent it to President Havel with a heartfelt congratulatory letter. Within weeks she received a response. It was a letter from Pragokoncert (the official concert agency of the Czechoslovak Ministry of Culture) on behalf of President Havel. She was formally invited to perform at the famous Reduta Club in the heart of Prague and to conduct a master class on American vocal music at Charles University which was founded in 1308. Off she went, with her husband John and pianist Bob McCoy. Her opening night show and subsequent performances were sold out and spectacular. During this first visit to Prague, Anne Marie met many journalists, musicians, writers, and political leaders, who persuaded her to make Prague her home.
Swayed by the beauty of Prague and the electric atmosphere of its people’s hard-won freedom, Anne Marie took a detour from music, and became part of Czechoslovakia's exciting business and cultural climate. She founded a staffing and training company which served the vast number of multinationals streaming into the new free markets of Central Europe. Her enterprise became one of the leading staffing companies in Prague.
Anne Marie's beloved husband passed away during their time in Prague. After many wonderful years in Europe, it was not the same without John. Anne Marie sold her company to a global staffing firm and repatriated to her hometown of Omaha. There she has resumed her music career, teaches singing and speaking voice lessons, and cherishes her time with family.
Anne Marie speaks English and French fluently, and has a working knowledge of Czech and Italian. She serves on the board of the Alliance Française Omaha, and was its president from 2014 to 2018. Her love for languages, culture, music, and art is infused in every aspect of her life.