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Members include Andrea Corr (born Andrea Jane Corr on May 17, 1974, in Dundalk, Ireland), lead vocals, tin whistle; Caroline Corr (born Caroline Georgine Corr on March 17, 1973, in Dundalk, Ireland), drums, bodhran, backing vocals; Jim Corr (born James Steven Corr on July 31, 1968, in Dundalk, Ireland), acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, backing vocals; Sharon Corr (born Sharon Helga Corr on March 24, 1970, in Dundalk, Ireland), violin, backing vocals. Addresses: Record company--Atlantic Records, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019,.
An appealing mix of traditional Celtic and standard popular styles, the Corrs' boundary-crossing music has found worldwide popularity stretching far beyond their native Ireland. Indeed, solid musicianship, tight vocal harmonies, and the undeniably appealing images of the three Corr sisters along with the eldest sibling, brother Jim Corr, have made them one of the most famous and best-selling musical groups in the world. While their initial success took place during an international wave of Irish-themed cultural popularity, Corrs transcended the category of "ethnic" music on their way to becoming best-selling artists throughout Europe, Asia, Oceania, and finally, North America. As reviewer John Aizlewood of Q noted in his review of their 2000 release In Blue, the Corrs were popular even "for people who don't really like music.... They are truly all things to all men."
Born to Gerry Corr, a manager of the payroll department of the Irish Electricity Board, and his wife, Jean, a homemaker, the four Corr children enjoyed a solid, middle-class upbringing. Although their hometown of Dundalk was near the border of Northern Ireland and home to a branch of the Irish Republican Army (I.R.A.), the politics of the one-time terrorist group had little obvious impact on the family. Each of them attended private religious schools in Dundalk, and while completing their secondary education there, participated actively in musical activities. With the encouragement of their parents, Jim took guitar and piano lessons, Sharon played the violin, Caroline studied the piano (later switching to drums after they aimed for a professional career), and Andrea took up the penny whistle. After completing his secondary education, Jim worked as a session musician with various bands in Dublin, while the girls helped out at their aunt's pub in Dundalk on weekends and during summer breaks from school.
When director Alan Parker announced that he would make a film from Irish novelist Roddy Doyle's The Commitments, an account of a struggling Dublin band, Jim Corr decided that forming a family musical group might help secure the siblings parts in the movie. As he recounted to Q's Andy Pemberton, "I used to look up to bands like The Jacksons. Even sibling bands like Donny & Marie Osmond. I know it sounds corny. The relationship, the two of them up on the screen together." In the end, only Andrea obtained a part in The Commitments, released in 1994; however, the fledgling band soon gained a manager in the film's music coordinator, John Hughes. Hughes was well known on the Dublin music scene and secured the new band high-profile appearances at the "HMV Goes Live '94" acoustic series, as well as an invitation from United States Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith to appear at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts.
While in the United States, the Corrs secured a producer for their first album, David Foster, who had a track record of success with Celine Dion and Whitney Houston. Foster also signed the band to his label, 143 Records, affiliated with Atlantic Records in the United States. The resulting collaboration, 1995's Talk on Corners, featured six instrumental selections among its Celtic-influenced tracks. The album sold well in their native land, as well as countries as diverse as Australia, Japan, and Spain. As Andrea Corr commented to Billboard's Dominic Pride and Paul Sexton, "In a way we're fortunate being Irish, because it meant we were welcomed around the world." Major success in the United States and the United Kingdom, however, was not immediately forthcoming.
For their second studio outing, Talk on Corners, the Corrs enlisted another renowned producer, Glen Ballard, respected for his collaboration with Alanis Morrisette. The result was a collection of songs that favored more mainstream, rather than Celtic, influences. Yet it was a televised St. Patrick's Day appearance at London's Royal Albert Hall that finally introduced the band to truly phenomenal success in the United Kingdom. The exposure of the special, coupled with popular new remixes of tracks from their first two albums, propelled Talk on Corners to the top of the charts. Eventually, the album would occupy the top position on the charts in the United Kingdom on six separate occasions, and the group received the prestigious 1998 BRIT Award for Best International Group.
Although their first two albums were certified gold in the United States, America remained the lone holdout in the English-speaking market to embrace the Corrs as a household name. Most radio stations found the band difficult to fit into either a rock or top-40 format; aside from the remix of their cover version of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams," the Corrs received scant radio play in the United States for their first two albums. However, the band courted the American public with numerous television appearances in 1999, including a marathon of series of shows on St. Patrick's Day. Simultaneously, the band performed as the opening act on the Rolling Stones tour, as well as touring on its own across the United States.
With Robert "Mutt" Lange and Mitchell Froom--producers of Shania Twain and Sheryl Crow, respectively--contributing to the production of In Blue, the Corrs further developed the pop side to their sound on their third release. The first track from the album, "Breathless," earned the weekly spotlight review in Billboard,which noted that it was "the Irish group's most Americanized single yet," and "an example of pop perfection." In due course, the single earned a place on radio play lists, and the accompanying video broke through on MTV's Total Request Live.
Such widespread success came when the Corrs de-emphasized their Celtic sound. This, however, caused some reviewers to dismiss the Corrs as another band merely chasing success in America at the expense of originality or integrity, "a disheartening example of musical ethnic cleansing," according to an Entertainment Weekly critic. Caroline Corr defended the group's efforts, telling Billboard's Paul Sexton and Chuck Taylor, "When you listen to the album, there's also a lot of stuff that's so not mainstream pop, and I think people will be saying, 'They're all so different.'"
Despite the criticism, In Blue earned generally favorable reviews, and topped the album charts in eighteen different countries soon after its release. Continuing to perform around the world, writing their own original music, and expanding their efforts to include soundtracks (Sharon Corr's music for a television special on the Irish Rebellion of 1916) and movie work (Andrea Corr's acting roles), the Corrs have earned a reputation as multi-media, global entertainers of the first rank. The band also used its high profile to speak out on copyright issues as Artist Representatives for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a mark of their peers' respect for their hard work and integrity as performers and songwriters.
by Timothy Borden
The Corrs's Career
Siblings born to Gerry Corr, a manager for the payroll department of the Irish Electricity Board, and Jean Corr; grew up in Dundalk, Ireland; completed secondary education in local Catholic schools; brother Jim worked as session musician in various Dublin bands; encouraged by the filming of the musical-comedy The Commitments to form a family vocal group; played the Dublin bar circuit; invited by U.S. Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith to perform at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston; secured recording contract while on their American trip; debut album, Forgiven, Not Forgotten, released to strong international sales, 1995; released follow-up, Talk on Corners, 1997; released third original album, In Blue, 2000.
The Corrs's Awards
Phil Lynott New Irish Band Award, Heineken/Hot Press Rock Awards, 1996; BRIT Award, Best International Band, 1998; International Federation of the Phonographic Industry Artist Representative, 2000.
- Selected discography
- Forgiven, Not Forgotten Atlantic Records, 1995.Talk on Corners , Atlantic Records, 1997.
- (Contributor) Legacy: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours Atlantic Records, 1998.
- Talk on Corners Special Edition , Atlantic Records, 1999.
- Unplugged , Atlantic Records, 1999.
- In Blue Atlantic Records, 2000.
- Billboard, July 9, 1994 p. 43; March 23, 1996, p. 46; October 17, 1998, p. 100; February 27, 1999; March 18, 2000, p. 53; July 8, 2000, p. 89; August 19, 2000, p. 21; August 26, 2000, p. 1; September 9, 2000, p. 101.
- Entertainment Weekly, September 15, 2000, p. 76.
- Music Business International, June 1999, p. 39.
- Q, July 1999, p. 90; August 2000, p. 94.
- Atlantic Records, http://www.atlantic-reocrds.com/frames/Artists_Music/biography.html?artistID=62 (January 9, 2001).
- Centre Ireland, http://www.centreireland.com/corrs/corrs_bio.htm (January 9, 2001).
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