"I went into the market-
place saying, 'I have this Irish family band who write their own stuff and play it on whistles and fiddles and bodhráns, as well as guitars, drums and keyboards'," says Corrs manager John Hughes. "The record company people looked at me with pity. It was like, 'They're gorgeous, I'll give you that, but it stops there "
Yet the Corrs have managed to cast aside all images of the Partridge Family and the Osmonds, selling upwards of 16 million albums worldwide along the way.
The Corr children Jim, Sharon, Caroline and Andrea grew up in Dundalk, a small town near South Armagh known for its high unemployment rate and IRA fugitives. Father Gerry Corr worked at the local bank and he and his wife Jean played in a local band called Sound Affair, which covered Abba hits and Eagles tunes. And while Jim was briefly involved with a local gang, and the Corr sisters often skipped school, music would bring the siblings back from their short stint as delinquents.
Jim and Sharon began playing locally as a duo, but brought in their younger siblings to audition for the Alan Parker film The Commitments which coincidentally tells the story of a struggling Irish band. Andrea scored a feature role, with the others taking bit parts. Meanwhile, the family stuck together as a quartet and worked on their sound. Three years later, the US Ambassador to Ireland, Jean Kennedy Smith, caught their well-honed act and invited them to perform at the World Cup in the States.
The Corrs were finally in the right place at the right time, winning US fans and signing with Atlantic Records. Their international debut album, Forgiven, Not Forgotten, combined pop music with traditional Irish stylings and sold over three million copies. Their incessant touring schedule helped crack markets throughout Europe and abroad, but Britain continued to remain elusive.
Andrea Corr took time off to play Juan Peron's mistress in the film Evita with Madonna, before returning to the family outfit. Talk On Corners, the Corrs's second release sold well but again failed to charm British audiences. However, after a 1998 appearance at the Royal Albert Hall their cover of the Fleetwood Mac hit Dreams scored, and by year's end Corners became the UK's top-selling album of the year, soaring to number one in both New Zealand and Malaysia.
The inescapable single Breathless followed, as did the well-received album In Blue, their most mainstream pop effort to date. Breathless caught on in the States and suddenly the Corrs were the hottest Irish export since Guinness. A supporting spot on tour with U2 in 2001 provided further exposure, and the Corrs had managed what Westlife and even Robbie Williams had failed they became household names on both sides of the Atlantic.
Sadly, their mother Jean would not live to see the sibling's US success, dying tragically in 1999 of a rare disease. To help ease their father's grief, Andrea and Caroline penned the moving No More Cry. "Our mother wanted us to keep going, to keep getting better," says Andrea. "We have to celebrate that in our music."
The Corrs's romantic exploits have been very public, including Andrea's rumoured relationship with Robbie Williams. But it was Sharon who became the first Corr offspring to walk down the aisle when she and longtime love Gavin Bonnar tied the knot in July 2001. A year later Caroline wed boyfriend Frank Woods in an intimate Majorca ceremony. The couple celebrated the birth of their son in February 2003.