Merry Corristmas | 

Andrea Corr says charity duet with Rolling Stones star Ronnie Wood was 'meant to be'

Andrea teams up with her old friend and Rolling Stone Ronnie for a special festive song to raise cash for Our Lady's Hospice

Andrea Corr with Thomas Byrne at Our Lady's Hospice

WHEN Andrea Corr pitched Ronnie Wood to perform on their new Irish hospice charity duet single, Blue Christmas, she says the Rolling Stones musician was instantly happy to oblige.

Andrea and rock 'n' roll legend Ronnie go back a long way - all the way to the late 1990s when The Corrs were the opening act for the Stones on tour.

It must have been daunting all those years ago for the Dundalk family band to play in front of a Rolling Stones audience? "Everything was daunting back then, to be honest… the whole lot," Andrea laughs as she chats this week with the Sunday World.

"People say that it was a strange combination, but it so worked for some reason. We got an incredible response from the hardcore Stones' fans. Some people now like us for that tour…'I saw you with the Stones in America,' they tell us."

The Corrs landed the support slot to the veteran rock gods because both shared the same promoter, John Giddings.

If The Corrs were in awe of the iconic rockers, it seems Mick Jagger and his cohorts were even more enamoured by the three Irish sisters.

"John Giddings used to make a joke that he'd never seen all of the Stones come out to see a support band before," Andrea laughs. "They were all at the side of the stage. John was going, 'You're very interested in the support group!'"

Andrea struck up a lasting friendship with Ronnie and the illustrious pair have collaborated on various mutual projects through the years.

Andrea Corr and Ronnie Wood

She has been a supporter of Our Lady's Hospice in Dublin's Harold's Cross in recent years - and this festive season decided to record and release a cover of the Elvis Presley hit, Blue Christmas, to raise funds for the charity.

"I wanted to record a song for the hospice, and I thought of Blue Christmas because I love the song and I love Elvis," she tells me. "This was Elvis's favourite song.

"The guitar on it made me think of Ronnie. I've been playing with Ronnie for years since we did the Stones tour. I did some things with him with his solo work. So I contacted him when he was on tour in America with the Stones, and he immediately said 'yes' and found the time to do it.

"Obviously, I've always loved his guitar playing, and I know his voice from singing in solo concerts, but it's just gorgeous on this record. It's so good, it's so deep, I just adore it. It was in my key and yet it suits him. It was so meant to be."

When Andrea was asked to turn on the Christmas lights at Our Lady's Hospice in Harold's Cross a couple of years ago, it was the first time that she got an insight into the care it provides for people at the end of their lives.

"My parents died quickly, so I had never experienced something like that, and I wasn't prepared for the impact it had on me," she reveals.

The Corrs in their early days

"I met patients and was shown around palliative care. I returned a couple of weeks later to sing a few Christmas songs for their Light Up A Life ceremony, where people remember those who have gone. It's so beautiful.

"The thing I always find so moving, and the most true love, is the love that some stranger has towards your dying relative. The staff, they are so happy and there's a serenity and a timelessness there - you don't know if it's day or night. People know that they are not going to come out, but there's an acceptance and it's beautiful thing really.

"Dad used to say, 'Christmas is a time of absences,' after Mum passed. The Light Up A Life ceremony recognises who we are missing at Christmas, who is absent to each of us, and that we are not alone in that everybody has losses. That sense of the transience of life, but acceptance and gratitude for the love and the time we have had. I just found that that had a huge impact on me.

"It was really, really beautiful and life-changing in a way. It changed me in a good way. I definitely want to always make sure that I am in some way affiliated with Our Lady's Hospice. I'll support it and to try and make sure that they keep getting money so that they can continue to do what they're doing."

Andrea tells how she believes in the afterlife. Where does she feel her parents are now? "I feel they are in me, they are part of me," she says. "I have a sense of another realm, of a love that's protective, even though it's not physical, it's not here, but I feel quite protected."

l Andrea Corr and Ronnie Wood's festive duet, Blue Christmas, is now available on all digital platforms.

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