Sinead b*witching young stars with showbiz bug
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.