Sharon Corr is ready to take to the stage once more, this time with fellow musician, Vonda Shepherd, she tells Lorraine Wylie.
Photogenic, talented and with a sound that blends traditional Irish themes with contemporary rock, the band of siblings known as The Corrs have all the ingredients for success. In the late 90s, their popularity soared and, by 2005 when the quartet decided to take a break, record sales had rocketed to over 40m.
In 2010 Sharon Corr made her debut as a solo artist with ‘Dream of You’ followed by ‘The Same Sun’ three years later. Now, once again, she’s ready to share the limelight. Although, this time, instead of family, she’ll be performing with friend and fellow musician, Vonda Shephard.
As she prepares for a whistle stop tour across Ireland and the UK, Sharon took time from a hectic schedule to tell me about the latest venture, her friendship with Vonda and why Irish people are the best in the world.
‘I always look forward to playing at home!” she tells me. “The people in Ireland are great, I mean, the audiences always make me feel welcome. But this time, it’s going to be a lot of fun having Vonda along.
"I think there’s something really good about two women on a road trip together. I suppose, for both of us, getting away from the home routine, is a bit like a mini break. I’m going to enjoy spending time in the van, chatting things over, giving each other a bit of support. I’m sure audiences will enjoy the show we have lined up for them. Vonda is an incredible musician and singer/songwriter so it’ll be a great experience for everyone.”
In recent years, Ireland has witnessed some major changes. Now living in Spain, I wondered what Sharon, originally from Dundalk, thinks of her homeland today.
“I think it’s fantastic now,” she enthuses. “I mean, it’s so cosmopolitan, it’s great to see it. I think I first noticed change coming to Ireland back in the mid to late 90s when we were making our early albums. We’d go away touring and when we came back, everything was different.
Financial clouds began to gather and the feel-good factor faded fast. Sharon remembers the impact on those around her.
“Well the pity is that, the wealth didn’t last,” she says, in a soft Irish lilt “We began to see the stress among our friends. It didn’t matter whether you were a taxi driver or a millionaire, everyone was
affected. Even today, although everything looks great on the surface, I know people are still trying to get back on their feet. Some have lost their homes and are still struggling. I think it very unfair that people had to suffer because of a banking crisis. Having said that, the Irish people have a great spirit. We just get on with it and refuse to let it beat us.”
Conversation drifts back to the upcoming tour and I ask Sharon how she met Vonda.
“We actually met in Dublin, when her husband Mitchell Froom was over to record our album. We just hit it off immediately. I really admire her work and, the fact that we’re both mums as well as women in the music
industry, means we have a lot in common. Then, later when I went to their home in America, where Mitchell has his studio and was recording The Same Sun album, Vonda was always there, cooking up a storm in the kitchen. I ended up staying for dinner and we laughed a lot and really got to know each other. We still share recipes. When the idea to do a show together first came up, we were both busy for a while with other projects. But now is just the right time.”
Last year, Sharon hit the headlines for what was arguably her most bizarre gig to date — a concert in the laboratory of a Spanish fertility clinic. Her audience — hundreds of developing embryos. I asked her about the performance and what it meant to her.
“It was incredibly emotional for me,” she recalls. “I had heard about the work at the ‘Institut Marques Clinic’ from my gynaecologist in Barcelona and I thought it was amazing. The Clinic has even won a Nobel Prize for their research. When you think about it, music is being used in all areas of medicine from autism to Alzheimer’s and now, in IVF labs. I mean, we all know the effect music can have on us.
"For me, I find it a great way to get all the pent up emotion out of me. I think, absolutely that music can heal. Apparently, fertility studies have shown that it’s something to do with the vibrations of the sound that helps the embryos develop. Initially when I was invited to perform I was already committed elsewhere but then an opportunity arose last year, so I sent an e-mail to Spanish musician Alex Ubago, attached the information and asked if he’d like to sing with me at the IVF lab. He agreed and it was wonderful.”
There’s nothing new about the use of music in medicine. Ancient Greeks employed it to treat a variety of complaints ranging from mental illness to hangovers. Perhaps modern medicine is re-discovering the real value of music therapy?
“Absolutely, music is like having therapy without a therapist,” Sharon agrees. “I think that nowadays we are too quick to turn to resources outside of ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, I know medicine has come a long way and drugs save lives. But sometimes, it is worth looking within and using what we have to try to change or help things”
Like many mums today, Sharon finds technology can be a thorn in the parental side. With two children, Cathal aged 13 and his 11-year-old sister Flori, it can be difficult to know how much of the internet is too much.
“I’d much rather our kids lived a real life than a virtual one but, in these days, it isn’t possible to ban the internet completely. It’s a
confusing area because advice changes from day to day. To be honest, our children are both good kids and are very well behaved. It’s just trying to find a balance between letting them have some time on the internet but not too much. ”
With such a hectic schedule, what is her favourite way to relax?
“To just be in the moment,” she sighs. “I think that being in the moment is the most important place on the planet you can be. Time slips by so fast. I mean my children are growing up and I don’t want to miss any of it. But then, sometimes we all forget and the moment is gone before we realize.” Her solo career is doing well but, following The Corrs reunion in Hyde Park in 2015, has she any plans to do something with the band in the near future?
“Oh well, the band is still there,” she laughs. “Nothing definite at the moment but we’re looking at various projects and things so watch this space!”
A few years ago Sharon told me that, contrary to popular belief she did not ‘play’ the guitar. I reminded her of the conversation and, jokingly asked if her skills had improved.
“You do not want to hear me play guitar!” she laughs “I know a few chords and I did write a couple of songs on guitar but, no I believe in knowing my limitations! I’m good on piano, better on violin and my vocals are good. I don’t need to know anything more about guitar!” With the tour about to get underway, is she packed and ready to go?
“I’m busy sorting the kids, you know getting things ready for them going to school, preparing my sets. There’s a lot going on…”
No doubt by the time she takes the stage, Sharon will be pitch perfect. But for now, her voice has a familiar note that many women will recognise — the sound of a mum under pressure.
Sharon Corr/Vonda Shephard Whistle Stop Tour Dublin March 2019 For full details and tickets contact: www.aikenpromotions.com