The Corrs' eldest sister Sharon won't have her musical siblings in tow at her Auckland show tomorrow. She talks to Lydia Jenkin about going it alone and her new career path.
The eldest sister in the Corr family, the group who reached worldwide fame in the 90s with a bundle of easy listening Celtic-inspired pop hits, Sharon Corr has kept up the violin and piano practice while starting a family, and has recently struck out on her own. She released her debut solo album Dream of You in 2010 and has nearly finished a second album, while also starring as a judge on TV singing competition show The Voice of Ireland.
Tell us why you decided to pursue a solo career.
Well, when the Corrs stopped working, it was very important for me to continue writing, because it's what I do. If you stop doing it, you get rusty, so I just continued writing. I was having my kids, but I really can't have my life without music in it. Before I knew it I'd pretty much written an album, and then I just started to record it, and it was a very natural, organic thing for me to do.
And when you were writing these songs, was your family a source of inspiration or were there other outside influences?
It's a very natural thing.
Normally I write at the piano, and I'm just sitting at it, and making up stuff. Then it inspires a melody, and the words start coming out, and I realise I'm writing about something I've been thinking about. Recently I wrote a song called Christmas, and it's about how at Christmas your past is in your present, how the loved ones that are no longer with you seem much more present at Christmas because it's all about memories.
How have you found making music without your siblings?
It's really good, it's very challenging. You get in a real comfort zone with your family, and in some ways you're testing yourself but in other ways you're not. With the Corrs I actually wrote a lot on my own anyway, so it's not unusual for me to write without them. But recently I decided to work with other writers because I was playing it quite safe being my only judge at home. So I started collaborating, which has been brilliant to stretch me as a writer and musician, and also to stretch my experiences lyrically as well.
You've been working as a judge on The Voice of Ireland as well. How have you found the world of TV?
For me it was brilliant to do something different, and work with new people. The team spirit is great, and it is very musical too, which I love. And what I love about The Voice is that the blind auditions help to filter out any humiliation for the artist, so it's a very pure way of choosing. It's a very positive, nurturing format.
Do you wish a show like this had been around when the Corrs were starting out?
To be honest, no, because I think even though you have to move with the times, and I embrace what's going on, I think no matter what way you do it, you have to get your stage legs, you have to be out there performing in order to convince an audience. It's something that you learn gradually. So I'm kind of glad in a way that we weren't as exposed when we were making our mistakes, because you need to be able to get out there, and have a really crappy gig, and not have it on YouTube the next day when you're a start-out act. Now days you're completely exposed from the get-go, and that's tough.
Have you and Ronan swapped any stories about your shared TV judging experiences?
I was laughing last night because I was watching his set, and he said something that I have thought myself: "Oh my God, now I've really put myself up against it because I'm going to get on stage and everyone will go, 'you were judging on The X Factor, but now it's our turn to judge you. You better do a damn good vocal'." So it has made him more nervous, and that's something I think about too. Coaching people on The Voice, I presumably know what I'm talking about, so you're thinking "well, this better be damn good, because I'm saying it's good".
Who: Sharon Corr, of the Corrs, performing as a solo act with a full band
When and where: Friday night at Vector Arena supporting Ronan Keating