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Interview with
Karen O'Shea

Interviewed by Telephone


Ray Grundy
Karen O'Shea

With a name like O'Shea, you obviously have an Irish background!

Yes, my Grandfather was an Irishman, my Father was born in England though and he came over to Australia when he was about 8 years old.

I believe you've been singing since a very young age?

Well, my Dad plays guitar and sings, so it kind of rubbed off a little bit onto me. I'd sing everywhere, I'd sing along with the adds on the t.v, in the car etc. They couldn't keep me quiet. (Laughs)

Was your Dad a performer?

He was, yes! He worked in a few bands here in Darwin. He used to play in 'Battle Of The Bands" competitions. So yes, he's been an active pursuer of his musical blood as well.

How did your interest in Country music come about?

I think it's always been there. Mum and Dad have always listened to country music. Being a teen though, it isn't cool to like Country, so I kind of moved away from it for a while and sang all different styles, but I came back to it. I think you always do.

You name Trisha Yearwood and Martina McBride as two of your main influences. Would you like to go over to Nashville and perform there yourself?

Most well as other places only overseas travel has been to Brunei, where I actually got to perform for the Sultan's wife. So I'm keen to travel to other places and hopefully, my singing will take me there.

How did that come about?

It was the High Commissioner of Australia, who was based over there at the time. He'd heard about us........I worked in a duo at the time.......and he invited us to go over there. So we booked to play at a couple of the hotel's and a function that the high commissioner himself organised, and it just came about that the Sultan's second wife was celebrating her birthday and she invited us to go and play for her. So it was a huge honour that we got to do that.

You've won many awards for your singing. Can you tell us about some of those?

Yes, well the Tamworth Country Music Festival, Australia's biggest festival, they have a few competitions that they run and the first year there, I won an award that was given in memory of Kmart "Jazzer Smith," one of our muso's who had passed on. More recently I won the 'Frank Ifield Spur Award,' which was a huge surprise to me and a great honour as well. I have to admit, I didn't know about that until I won it. Since then, so many things have happened because of that and because of Frank Ifield.

This year at Tamworth I took home the 'TIARA' award, which stands for the 'Tamworth independent artist recognition award.' I won that for 'Female Vocalist' this year, which makes me feel fantastic to just have been recognised for something that I do.

Frank Ifield is playing a part in your career at the moment. Can you tell us about that?

Yes, he is, he and his company, 'Country Spotlight.' He has just been the most fabulous supporter of me and he's been tireless in his promotion of me. My first single, "My Love Goes That Far," that I released over there, wouldn't have happened if it hadn't been for him. That was actually part of my prize for the 'Frank Ifield Spur Award" and it reached #7 in the EMS European Charts, which was just, "Waaaaw." Particularly with me being here in Darwin, Australia, it just seems so far away from everything and when you think, that was my first single, it's just so cool!

You are about to release your first album, "Wish". It must be a pretty exciting time for you.

It is, I've been hanging out to do this album for quite some time and I wanted to record it with my producer Rod McCormack, who I met at the College of Country Music, which is something they hold every year in Tamworth now for the first two weeks before the festival kicks in. It's an opportunity where 23 up and coming artists get together and write songs and meet people in the industry and, just learn about the industry itself.

I was lucky enough to meet him there. He and I got on very well and he was keen to work with me. So late last year I got to do that and we recorded 10 tracks, I already had two from the singles I had recorded with him earlier. It was a bit of a rush thing, being up in Darwin, I only had a month, so I went and spent a month down there with Rod and we managed to get it finished and I'm absolutely thrilled with the final outcome. So now all that needs to be done, is to get out and promote it.

How did you pick the songs for the album?

Well, I'd been looking at songs for some time before we actually went into the studio, and a couple of them, we actually decided on while I was there. But basically, Rod and I just talked about the direction I wanted to be heading in and what kind of songs I liked. He goes over to the states every year and has a relationship with some of the publishing company's over there, so he gets sent a lot of songs. Also, his wife, Jeanna (also a singer) gets songs sent her all the time and she can't get to record them all, so there are a couple of tracks on my album that had been sent to her, which is lucky for me.

Did you write any songs yourself?

I do try to write a bit, but I've always considered myself a singer before a writer, although that's certainly an area I wish to become more involved in. There's two tracks on the album that I've co-written. One is with a lady who actually lives up here in Darwin, she's a close friend of mine, she and I have done a little bit of writing together. The other track, I co-wrote with Rod McCormack and Rick Price.

The second single from the album has just been released to radio. Can you tell us about that song?

This is a really special song! Originally I brought out an E.P of 3 tracks that I recorded with Rod McCormack. The first one on there was "My Love Goes That Far," which I loved as soon as I heard it, and the second track is "She Broke Your Heart." It's such a special song, written by an American lady called, Rebecca Lynn Howard, who's a fabulous singer in her own right. I understand she does plan to record it, but hopefully, not before I have a hit out of it. (Laughs)

It was sent to Rod and he had been sitting on it for quite some time, he liked the song, but he was just looking for the right singer to sing it. Fortunately for me, he felt that I was that person. He played me the song and there was just something about it that I loved. It's that older style of country that I was brought up on, and I just had to record it, and I'm so glad that I did because, the comments I've had back on it, not only from industry people, but from close friends, it turns out that is their favourite song.

Do you have a personal favourite track on the album?

My favourite is a song called, "Prayers For You." I can't tell you who wrote that one, I'm not sure, but I like the lyric, the really touched me that song.

Are there any plans to tour Europe and the U.K. if the album is successful?

Oh I hope so, I hope there's plenty of that on the way. I've got everything crossed! (Laughs)

I know, when I spoke to Frank Ifield recently, he said he was thinking of something, maybe in 2003, with a few other artists.

Yes, well he and I have been chatting about that kind of thing and providing everything goes well and if it can be organised, then I'd certainly love to be a part of it, particularly with the response I've had. I think it would be great to come over and meet some of these people who are supporting me and my music.

Karen, you have a wonderful talent and I'm sure it's only a matter of time before you are being mentioned in the same breath as Trisha and Martina. It's been great talking to you. Thank you very much for your time.

Thank you very much Ray and thank you also to your listeners.


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