Talk On Corrners

Corrs and effect

Persistence pays off for the band of siblings whose voices are now getting a rapturous hearing on this side of the Irish Sea.

By Alannah Weston.

Photograph by Mike Owen

"I dreamt I was with Prince Charles last night. It was with the Pope and there was a Mass happening," Jim Corr says out of the blue. He and his sisters, Sharon, Andrea and Caroline have been doing press all day but are doing their best not to seem bored or - worse - boring. For the Corrs are professionals: an Irish family band who began playing together eight years ago, have been around the world several times, played with some of the biggest names in rock, and seen their first album, Forgiven, Not Forgotten, go gold and platinum in 10 countries. They are in London to promote their second album, Talk On Corners, which is on its way to number one in the charts, and will be back again in December for the start of their biggest British tour so far.

You may not have heard of the Corrs, but you certainly will have heard their music. Their cover version of Fleetwood Mac's Dreams has been a Radio 1 favourite all summer - which is ironic since their parents were members of a cover band in Ireland in the Seventies, playing Abba songs as well as hits by the Carpenters and the Eagles.

However - and this is a good thing - the Corrs covers are by no means the strongest tracks on the album. It's when they are singing the pieces they've written themselves, with a little help from Grammy award-winning producer David Foster, that they are playing to their strengths. Their new single, What Can I Do? (released on August 17), makes the most of Andrea's pretty voice with a strong melody, and the familial vocal sound and rich harmonies combine in a chorus to remember.

Click for Corrs supplement picture

Though young - Andrea is 24, Caroline 25, Sharon 28 and Jim 32 - they appeal to a thirtysomething audience that can't quite get to grips with the Verve but aren't ready to settle into Celine Dion. Their use of traditional Irish instruments like the tin whistle and the bodhran has meant that they sometimes end up in the folk music section, which is not really what they are about at all - not least because the three girls look like Gucci models.

"If Mammy had her way," laughs Andrea, "we'd have long hair and thick eyebrows, and never shave our legs." As it is, the three shiny brunettes look great in white for our shoot. They are extremely telegenic - the huge success of the St Patrick's night screening of their concert at the Albert Hall led to a slot with Rod Stewart where Andrea stole the show. Andrea has had small roles in Alan Parker's films The Commitments and Evita, in which she played Juan Peron's mistress opposite Madonna, but although she enjoys acting, music is her real love.

Success has been a long time coming for the Corrs, and their tenacity is admirable. They cite their BBC debut last spring as their major breakthrough into the British music scene. "After that, we immediately felt a difference in England," says Sharon. "It was just eventually getting heard. If people saw you and heard you and then you failed, I'd accept that. But if they can't hear you - I won't accept failure then."

They have a way of accepting fate that is very Irish. "If the first single off the first album was a worldwide hit, I don't think we would have been equipped to handle it," explains Andrea. "It's not the way of things, it's not appropriate for people to become megastars overnight."

The Corrs have enough savvy to know that media exposure is an important part of the package of any megastar. However, they become frustrated when they are asked to describe their music. What they'd rather talk about is books, films and politics. They hate Hollywood sentimentality when it comes to things Irish, and like most of their generation, they are exhausted by the constant battles in the North, despite the recent peace agreement.

Just as they're becoming animated on the subject, Jim points out that my tape's still running, and they turn the conversation back round to the topic at hand: music. "God, it's a weird business," remarks Sharon. "Because you end up spending so much time talking about the music - when really you just have to pop the CD in and there you go."

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