Stephanie Bell talks to three local women making a career out of tribute acts to some of pop’s biggest stars
It is the ultimate in escapism. Dressing in outrageous clothes and disappearing into the persona of an idol while all the time being cheered on by an appreciative audience.
Tribute artists are the powerful new entertainers, perfecting the moves and vocals of some of pop’s biggest stars to offer fans a convincing alternative to the real thing.
This new stream of talented performers are packing out venues with their full-on shows emulating the performances of iconic artists from Kylie and Madonna to Freddie Mercury and Robbie Williams.
For many fans it is the closest they will get to seeing their idols perform live, while for the artists themselves it is a chance to escape into an alternative world of high glamour and showmanship.
We talk to three local women who have been filling venues with their high-energy performances as three of pop’s biggest divas, Lady Gaga, Pink and Cascada.
Mum-of-three Alecia Karr was studying to be a neurosurgeon when fate intervened and led her to be the star of a different type of theatre as the UK’s leading Pink tribute act.
The Newtownabbey singer so perfectly emulates the high-octane performance of the risqué pop queen that one leading music industry pundit commented: “Leave Alecia’s show and you are not sure if you have seen Pink or not.”
It’s a career which has taken Alecia by surprise and couldn’t be further removed from the job in medicine which she went back to university in her late 20s to study for.
“I love performing as Pink. It’s exhilarating being on stage and because I love her so much, it is a real privilege to be doing the tribute to her,” said Alecia.
Thirty-six-year-old Alecia, whose music career allows her to devote her days to her three sons — twins aged 12 and the youngest who is 10, was at university in Manchester studying bio chemistry when a night out with friends to a karaoke bar changed her life.
After singing the Pink hit Dear Mr President she was stunned when a member of Pink’s promotions team approached her.
She recalls: “He told me I had a powerful voice and that if I lost some weight and changed the colour of my hair I would made a good Pink tribute artist.
“I was flabbergasted and because I was such a big fan of Pink’s anyway I really took on board what he said.”
Alecia decided to finish her masters degree in bio medicine but at the same time started to re-invent herself in preparation for a new career as a performer.
Alecia dropped three dress sizes from 14 to eight, dyed her hair blonde, spent hours studying Pink’s dance routines and learning her songs, made her own replica Pink costumes and endured the pain of 24 tattoos to replicate those of her idol.
Within just six months she performed her first gig and hasn’t looked back.
“There is a science geek still inside me,” she joked.
“One day I will probably go back to that but in the meantime the singing and performing has become the career I never dreamt of.
“I love the music and so it is not difficult to do it.
“The dance routines and keeping up with the costumes is a bit harder.
“Some of the costumes are a bit skimpy and sexy but it is nice to put them on for the stage as it’s not something you would do in real life unless you are an exhibitionist.”
Five years on and Alecia’s tribute act has been a huge success with regular bookings across the UK and Ireland.
But being recognised for performing as someone else is starting to loose its initial appeal and the talented performer is relaunching her career in the hope of enjoying success as Alecia Karr.
“I love performing as Pink and will continue to do it but I think every artist wants to be recognised as a performer in their own right and I’m no different,” said Alecia.
“The rock genre is my forte and while I will be doing cover versions to start off with I have some song writers working on material which will be my own and hope to eventually record a single,” she said.
Calling herself The Rock Angel, Alecia launches her new show on February 11 at The Planter’s Tavern in Waringstown when she will perform cover versions of hits from rock legends such as Stevie Nicks, Suzi Quatro, Bon Jovi, Guns n’ Roses and Led Zeppelin.