She has been voted the world's most beautiful woman. The group she leads has sold over 30 million albums and topped the charts in 18 countries. Now at 38, the stunning dark-haired Andrea Corr, with a millionaire husband and six-month old daughter, named Jean after her late mother, is planning a new career -in movies.
Not that she is giving up singing — the Irish super-group The Corrs, are about to release a new album and have a massive tour planned for later this year. "I hate the idea of singer-turned-actress, but it's something I seriously wanted to do before the music," Andrea says. "And now I've got into it I'm absolutely hooked." "I've been singing in the group for over 20 years," and I felt it was time to look for new challenges," she says.
In fact Andrea nearly gave up singing for acting ten years ago when their mother, Jean, died suddenly at 57 of a rare lung disease.
"We all thought seriously about disbanding the Corrs, then we realised that she would have wanted us to get on with life and go on singing," says Andrea.
"She made tremendous sacrifices so that we could be a family band. We must never forget that — or waste the opportunities she gave us."
It was two decades ago that an American visitor to Ireland heard some haunting folk music wafting down a Dublin street and discovered three beautiful sisters and their brother playing in a pub. On impulse, the visitor — who happened to be Jean Kennedy Smith, the ambassador to Ireland — invited the group to play at a charity event in Boston.
While they were in the States, the young Irish singers turned up without an appointment at Atlantic Records, auditioned — and got a contract to make two albums. The legend of the Corrs was born. Soon the group, all classically-trained musicians and the children of two of Ireland's stalwarts of the folk scene, were topping the international charts with best-selling albums like Forgiven, Not Forgotten, and Dreams. They were unlikely pop sensations, playing dates with the Rolling Stones, and performing with tenor star Pavarotti at London's Royal Albert Hall, at the Commonwealth Games , and at a special audience with the Pope.
In fact, their success had taken a long time coming — Jim remembers that at home in the small Irish town of Dundalk music was an essential part of family life. Their parents Jean and Gerry Corr, played in a folk band and Jim was encouraged to learn piano and guitar, Sharon, the violin and Caroline, the piano. Andrea learned classical singing and has a voice which has been hailed as the best in pop. She was also voted the most beautiful woman in the world.
The death of Jean Corr was a catastrophe to her family. "We were completely without direction for a while," Andrea says. "We had relied on her so much. We seriously considered disbanding the group — suddenly it all seemed meaningless." Remembers the group's manager John Hughes: "There was a time when I really thought everything was over for the Corrs, which would have been a tragedy. They still had so much potential and there was nothing else like them on the pop scene." It's taken until now for Sharon, Caroline, Andrea and Jim to fully come to terms with the fact that their mother would have wanted the Corrs to continue.
Andrea says: "We remembered that she always said we were a family band and must look out for each other. Now we really feel that it's true." Sharon and Caroline are now married and Caroline also has a baby. After being linked with celeb names, notably Robbie Williams and actor Shaun Evans, Andrea married stockbroker Brett Desmond in 2009 after a two-year romance, sealed with a 60,000 pound engagement ring. Brett's father, one of Ireland's richest men , once owned London's City Airport.
"I was single for choice for a long time, but there comes a point when you think: I've no one to go on holiday with!" Andrea smiles. In the meantime, the Corrs have never been busier. But one date they have no intention of missing — a concert to raise funds for research into the disease from which their mother died. "We're going to need all our professionalism to keep smiling during that one," Andrea says."We will never forget my mother and the fact that my daughter is called Jean keeps her memory alive in all our hearts."