Old harmonies, new connections.
SHARON Corr has very special memories of Australia – it was the place where she first felt famous.
The first time the singer and violinist ventured Down Under in the mid-’ 90s as one quarter of The Corrs, with younger sisters Andrea and Caroline and older brother Jim, the rest of the world had yet to embrace the charms of the Irish band’s sweet vocal harmonies and folk- pop sound.
But Australia led the way, helping the siblings launch an international career that would go on to sell more than 30 million albums, thanks to hits such as Only When I Sleep, Dreams and Breathless.
‘‘ We hadn’t experienced fame or success or anything and we arrived in Australia and were walking down the street and we realised everyone was looking at us,’’ Sharon says.
‘‘ Then we realised they did know us and were saying ‘ that’s The Corrs’. And we were like ‘ oh my God, we’re famous’.’’
The Corrs began an indefinite hiatus five years ago while Sharon, Caroline and Jim raised their young families.
In the intervening years, Sharon ( pictured) and lead singer Andrea launched solo careers but, given Andrea is now expecting her first child, there are no prospects of the quartet reforming any time soon, if ever.
‘‘ I really don’t know, it doesn’t feel like unfinished business,’’ Sharon says of the possibility of another Corrs album.
‘‘ I think we achieved a lot and the world was good to us so if nothing ever happens again, then I don’t think we could be disgruntled about that.’’
For now, with son Cathal, 5, and daughter Flori, 4, growing up, 41- year- old Sharon is concentrating on her new life outside the band.
She released her first solo album, Dream of You, in 2010 and is a coach on the Irish version of the talent search show The Voice, an Australian version of which will air this year.
She is also returning to Australia this month to support compatriot Ronan Keating on his coming theatre tour.
As part of two of the biggest Irish exports of the ’ 90s – she with The Corrs and he with Westlife – Sharon and Ronan have been meeting ‘‘ backstage and in corridors for years’’ and recently teamed up to sing for the Mary Keating Foundation, a cancer research charity named in honour of the former boy- band singer’s mother. ‘‘ It’s nice to work with him,’’ she says. ‘‘ I admire him because he is a really hard worker and respects the industry and his audience. He is a good guy.’’
The Voice started in Holland in 2010, before spreading to the US, Germany, Ukraine and Mexico, and successfully debuted in Ireland last week. The show aims for a positive and pro- artist tone.
‘‘ The Voice does a number of things that is different from other shows,’’ she says.
‘‘ First of all, there is a pre- selection so the artists who are auditioning for the coaches on the show are talent- scouted, so nobody auditions who can’t sing.
‘‘ That cuts out the cringe thing of watching people who think they can sing but can’t.
‘‘ And then when we are auditioning with the people who have pre- auditioned, we can’t see them, we can only hear them. So we are really running on gut and the voice.’’
Sharon says leaving the safety of both band and family to take centrestage herself was, at first, daunting but she has now embraced the challenge.
‘‘ Before I had kids I had some blinkers on and didn’t really see the world the way it is,’’ she says. ‘‘ It’s not that I was unempathetic or not in touch, I just think that until you have children you don’t feel that immense vulnerability.
‘‘ When you realise that you have to protect somebody from the world, it becomes a bigger and badder place.
‘‘ But it also becomes more beautiful because of the miracle of having children.’’