Cold call – Alan Jackson calls Ronan Keating

Ronan Keating, 25, lives with his wife, Yvonne, and their children, Jack and Marie, in Dublin and Surrey.  He's sponsoring six places on a year-long vocal course sponsored by the Brighton Institute for Modern Music.  A single, I Love It When We Do, from his Destination album, is released on September 9.

AJ: It's all very well sponsoring these college places and inviting wannabe stars to send in tapes. But what if they turn out to be better singers than you?

RK: There are thousands of better singers than me out there – I've heard a good few already.  And it's because I'm the guy who got lucky and who, so far, is continuing to get away with it that I want to give a few of them a helping hand.

AJ: More than ever before, the pop industry is eating up its young and spitting them out. Already, we're threatened with Pop Idol 2. If you were a 16-year-old hopeful now, would you have the confidence to compete?

RK: I could find the confidence, but I doubt very much if I'd get through. That snappy, nasty, 30 seconds-and-then-you're-out format might make good TV, but it isn't the way to sport talent. For all they know, they could be rejecting the next Sting or Mariah Carey.  And that level of criticism, delivered publicly? You'd want to crawl into a hole and die.

AJ: I interviewed you on tour back in 1996. Boyzone and supplanted Take That as Britain's top boy band, and you were out in Nottingham's clothes shops, spending like there was no tomorrow …

RK: You're young. Suddenly, you've got a few bob. What's any young fella going to do? Make sure he's got a nice car and decent threads, that's what. The lure of all that quickly fades. These days, I'm a family man. My priorities are different.

AJ: Nine years of stardom behind you. Are you ever nostalgic for the hungry years?

RK: I think back to when the five of us were criss-crossing Ireland in a white Transit van, driving ourselves to gigs, and the memories are magical. They were the best times we ever had. £60 cash-in-hand at the end of an evening was more money than I'd ever dreamt of, and best of all was having no idea about what lay around the corner.

AJ: Your relationship with the other four now?

RK: We don't speak. I guess we fell out, simple as that. But that's life, and you have to move on. Everyone seems to be happy. Or, at least, I hope they are. Things might change. Meanwhile, I'm just getting on with stuff.

AJ: Like running for the Irish Presidency at some future date?

RK (chuckling): What happened there is that a journalist said to me, "All this success, first in a band, now as a solo artist. You've hosted Eurovision. You've hosted Miss World. What next? Running for President?" And, flippantly, I replied, "If Dana can do it, then why not me?" But it was only a joke, I promise you.

AJ: No political ambitions then; all the more time to concentrate on good works.

RK: I don't know about good works, but I was given a one-in-a-million chance and I want to give something back. Nor am I being entirely unselfish. It's a proud feeling when someone you've helped becomes successful. I had it with Westlife (whom he managed), and it'd be very nice to have it once again.

Further details of the vocal course, see www.bimm.co.uk or phone 01273626666

(Thanks to RKCA)

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