Sinead b*witch­ing young stars with show­biz bug

Bray People - - FACE TO FACE - Es­ther HAY­DEN

LIFE HAS cer­tainly been a roller­coaster for Sinead O’Car­roll. A for­mer girl band singer she re­mains com­mit­ted to en­ter­tain­ment and has re­cently set up the Star Academy in Shore­line Leisure Cen­tre in Grey­stones.

Hail­ing orig­i­nally from Newbridge Sinead is now liv­ing in the pretty north Wick­low town of Grey­stones with hus­band Michael and daugh­ter Sa­ma­rah.

Best known for her time as a mem­ber of the hit 90s band B*Witched Sinead was mu­si­cally in­clined from a young age and started to play the pi­ano when she around seven years old and the love of mu­sic re­mains with her to­day.

Af­ter leav­ing school she trained as a dancer be­fore winning a schol­ar­ship to Lon­don to the Plun­kett Stu­dio Cen­tre for Mu­si­cal The­atre. Here she honed her skills be­fore re­turn­ing home and tak­ing to the stage in the Gai­ety and the Olympia.

It was while re­hears­ing in Diggs Lane in Dublin where she met Edele and Keavy Lynch and to­gether with Lind­say Ar­maou B*Witched was formed.

How­ever un­like to­day’s gen­er­a­tion the young Sinead O’Car­roll never han­kered for the glam­orous life of a pop­star and had al­ways imag­ined her ca­reer would be in mu­si­cal the­atre rather than a girl band but c’est la vie.

Even still through her dance academy, Star Academy, kids of­ten ask her how to be­come fa­mous looking per­haps to be the next Brit­tany or Lind­say and Sinead gives them a quick dose of re­al­ity. ‘You can do Big Brother (to get fa­mous). But if you want to work in this in­dus­try you work in it be­cause you want to work in it not be­cause of what you might get out of it. 5 per cent of peo­ple get fa­mous maybe 10 per cent. It’s gas how gen­er­a­tions have changed, how their per­cep­tions changed.’

The band’s hit sin­gle ‘C’est la Vie’ was re­leased in 1998 and de­spite mixed re­views it reached the top spot in the UK sin­gles charts, no mean feat for a group of un­known Ir­ish girls. The song also reached Num­ber 9 in the US charts.

At the height of their suc­cess Sinead said the whole ex­pe­ri­ence was ‘mad’. ‘I re­mem­ber one day we were in five coun­tries in one day. You get to the point where you are so tired you don’t know where you are go­ing or where you have been.

‘I re­mem­ber when we were in the States we were tour­ing quite a bit and I sat be­side this gen­tle­man and he asked me where had I been and I said ‘I don’t know.’ You just get wrecked. Your skin goes grey. You are over­worked. You are miss­ing home. You are miss­ing a nice cup of Ir­ish tea. But at the same time it all hap­pened so fast I think ac­tu­ally only 50 per cent of you can reg­is­ter what’s go­ing on.

‘It’s when you stop and look back and think did I ac­tu­ally do that. It’s a bit of a blur. But it was great though. I had a ball.’

Like all pop­stars of course there was a se­cret be­hind Sinead. A se­cret only her fam­ily, her band mem­bers and the record la­bel knew. And de­spite this ‘se­cret’ be­ing out­ted by show­biz columnists dur­ing B*Witched’s hey­day Sinead only laughs about it as her sin was be­ing older than she main­tained.

Now 37 years Sinead gig­gles at the hype her age gar­nered at the time. ‘They only gave it (a younger age) to me be­cause I was six or seven years old than the girls but the funny thing was I didn’t look it at the time. Our man­ager had sold us as a teen band and at one stage I nearly let it slip talk­ing about my 21st. I think Ja­son O’Cal­laghan was the one who broke the story and went on a big mad mis­sion to find out my age. They got hold of my birth cer­tifi­cate or some­thing like that. But it wasn’t me (who wanted the fake age) it was the man­ager. At the height of it it seemed like a story. Now it’s like what­ever.’

While in B*Witched Sinead also had to pre­tend to be sin­gle and boyfriend Michael Ramham who is now mar­ried to Sinead had to be kept un­der wraps.

‘I’d go away for three months and you have to just com­pletely trust each other be­cause if you don’t you would drive your­self mad. The cou­ple met in Diggs Lane and it seemed des­tiny that all the ma­jor play­ers and events in Sinead’s life would stem from the Dublin haunt.

Al­though her girl band days are be­hind her Sinead loves noth­ing bet­ter than nur­tur­ing the tal­ents of other chil­dren and her brain­child, Star Academy, is go­ing from strength to strength.

‘One of the things I love is just watch­ing kids with tal­ent. I’d sit here all day watch­ing kids singing and danc­ing. If you are go­ing to set up some­thing like this you need to let it grow and let the kids grow too rather than just set­ting it up and walk­ing away.

‘It suits my life­style now with hav­ing Sa­ma­rah and still do­ing some­thing cre­atively as well. It can only grow and that’s the ex­cit­ing bit. You just never know who is go­ing to walk in the door.’

Open to chil­dren aged be­tween five and 18 years Star Academy has ten week terms and runs full time. ‘I love to bring peo­ple over and run work­shops with the kids.’ It is open to all kids whether they just want to learn some dances or whether they want to fol­low it as a ca­reer. ‘It is for kids who want to have fun and if they want to go down this road there is a lot of things I can guide them in. It would be great now if I got a lit­tle girl band out of it’, she laughs.

Sinead has also made a foray into tele­vi­sion and pre­sented a cos­metic surgery make over show, In­side and Out for TV3.

‘We were shoot­ing for about a year be­cause the par­tic­i­pants go on a long process. I loved the pre­sent­ing, the peo­ple. It was re­ally good. I’d love to do some more of that now in the fu­ture.

‘I have been work­ing with a lot of pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies on ideas but to be hon­est with the way things are at the minute there is no money to do any­thing.’

For more in­for­ma­tion on Star Academy con­tact on 01 2870633 or www.stara­cademy.ie.

LEFT: Sinead, to­day, at the Star Academy in Grey­stones. ABOVE: With B*WITCHED when they met Will Smith at an awards cer­e­mony. BE­LOW: Sinead back­stage at he Olympia for The King and I.

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