Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



An Irish pop group, four siblings from Dundalk, eleven miles south of the Ulster border, in what was called bandit country during the long British war with the IRA. Their parents, Jean and Gerry Corr, were a lounge act, who listened to the Carpenters, the Eagles, and Simon & Garfunkle (but their Dad threw Prince's Lovesexy out of the house because of its filthy lyrics). The children were all sent to convent schools, where they learned to work hard. They are the biggest Irish group ever after U2, and one of the biggest acts in the world, having toured the globe several times. Their second album sold nine million copies.

Keyboardist, guitarist, and vocalist Jim Corr (b 31 July 1964) was a musical prodigy, who had an old piano in his room which could not be tuned to concert pitch. When he was a child he would try to play the out-of-tune piano along with the records playing downstairs. One of Jim's formative experiences was seeing his younger brother, his pal, killed by a car when Jim was six years old. Jim was hyperactive, always getting into trouble around the house, while his little brother had a sunny disposition and was easy to get along with; he now thinks that good people are put on this earth to teach us something.

Sharon Corr (b 24 March 1970) plays violin, bodhran, tin whistle and writes arrangements; Caroline Corr (b 17 March 1973) is the drummer; Andrea Corr (b 31 17 May 1974) is the lead vocalist, plays tin whistle, and writes most of the lyrics. Also an actor, Andrea had a part in the film Evita. All three girls are astonishingly pretty in that very slim cover-girl way; Andrea is routinely voted the sexiest woman in the world. (Jim was once voted the sexiest man.)

There can be no doubt that their good looks helped their careers. Their manager, John Hughes, is a member of the select group who have only one band on the roster, like Paul McGuinness, manager of U2. Around 1990 Hughes was in a band that was falling apart; the keyboardist left, and he auditioned Jim Corr. At the same time, Hughes's friend was the casting director for the 1991 film The Commitments, and asked Hughes to put together auditions for a huge number of bands; Jim asked if he could bring his sisters; the casting director took one look and told Hughes to manage them: 'I've been in the music business for 25 years; they're stars.' (All four Corrs landed parts in the movie.) When Hughes took them to New York to meet producer David Foster, then working with Michael Jackson, he arranged them on a sofa outside Foster's office; the day after he saw them they had a contract with Atlantic, despite the fact that their Celtic-flavored pop was unproven. One day they were nowhere, the next day they were everywhere. But Andrea, the youngest, says she could not have imagined how hard they would have to work.

In any case, they are more than just pretty faces. Most bands of siblings have a lot of difficulties (the Beach Boys, the Jackson Five, Oasis), but the upbringing the Corrs' had was intelligent: their mother did not manage them as a brood, but each of them according to their individual needs. (Still a beautiful and vibrant woman at age 57, with a voice said to resemble Karen Carpenter's, Jean died of a rare lung disease in 1999.) The siblings are close, but also live their own lives; and for all their sexiness, the Corr women radiate a kind of intelligent spirituality, also reflected in the band's songs and their lyrics.

The Corrs' albums, all on WEA labels, include Forgiven Not Forgotten '95, Talk On Corners '98, The Corrs Unplugged 2000, In Blue 2000, Best Of 2001, Live In Dublin 2002, Borrowed Heaven 2004, Home 2006. Live In Geneva is a DVD.