TV Times

Kerri: Country singer back in action

By Sanath Weerasuriya

Kerrigan Labrooy was a popular name in the Country Music scene in Sri Lanka some time back. But Sri Lanka lost his glamour, when he was a just starting to hit the scene. Kerri migrated to Australia many years ago and slowly established his name Down Under as a Country singer.

He was in Colombo few years back as a guest performer at a popular Country and Western Concert.But the family commitments put his singing career on hold for sometime.

But with huge scope in front, he didn’t want to let it lose for good. Kerri is now ready to hit the bandstand again with more energetic manner. Kerrigan will be in action on Friday, 17th March in Melbourne at a popular dance night. However Sunday Times had a chance to have a chat with him before he embarks on his new singing career.

Q: How long have you been singing?

A. Since I was about my son’s age. I used to sing the Jim Reeves classic ‘But You Love Me Daddy’ with my Dadda when I was 5 in my little home in Ratmalana. My eldest son Kerrigan Jr. sings this duet with me and he’s not even 4 yet – so naturally he’s better than me!

Q: I believe you put your career on hold for your wife and children.

A. Definitely; I did it in a heart-beat. I’ve vowed never to leave them behind. At the same time dragging them on tour at living out of a suitcase at such a young age is not feasible. But my wife Michelle was keen for me to do at least a local concert and I agreed – and the only reason I agreed is because I can involve my children and they’ll be right there with me at my Hampton Park gig on March 17th

Q:Having looked after nieces and nephews over the years you obviously enjoy doing for your own.

A. That’s an under-statement. It’s a dream come true and I can’t thank God enough! I literally still pinch myself sometimes.

Q:So tell us about your co-producer – your beautiful wife. How did you guys meet?

A. I met my darling wife Michelle while I was touring and performing in New Zealand and it was love at first sight. We’ll be married 5 years in August 2012 and it still seems like the honeymoon we never had.

Q:You didn’t have a honeymoon?

A. Not really. I was fostering someone else’s child at the time and I didn’t have the heart to leave the kid behind in anyone else’s care. Fortunately our life together is one long honeymoon.

Q:Tell us about your concert/dance?

A. It’s on March 17th at the Arthur Wren Hall in Hampton Park. Starts at 7.30 pm. Tickets are $15 for Adults and $7 for kids over the age of 5. Kids under 5 are free. Group bookings get a special discount. You can either sit back and enjoy the entertainment or get up and dance.

Q:What kind of dancing can we expect.

A. Well it’s country and rock ‘n’ roll, so lots of line-dancing, jiving, waltzing, two-stepping and good old moving and a-grooving.

Q:Sounds great. You were featured as ‘Man of the Month’ in some magazine?

A. Ha – the ‘Aussie Post’ magazine. However fortunately for the lady I would have had to pick, I never got to go on that date because I had to perform in Tamworth - Australia’s country music capital.

Q:You’ve won quite a few Awards as a result of your singing and song-writing. One song beat 4,200 contenders from 45 countries to make the top 10% at the Unisong International Song Contest?

A. I felt really grateful for that. It was a song I wrote titled ‘Photograph of You’. And it happened again 4 years later with ‘Countrycity Unity’.

Q:You were Runner-Up in the Australian Songwriters Awards with your song ‘Feel So Blue’. And also a Finalist in the Victorian Country Music Awards in 2 categories – Best Male Vocal and Album of the Year with your song ‘Love Has Let Me Down’ and the Album of the same name.

A. Best Male Vocal - I couldn’t believe it. And I still couldn’t believe it when it happened again 9 years later with my song ‘Holding On’.

Q:You topped the Worldwide Mainstream Charts of Most Played Artist for an amazing 10 consecutive weeks. Not only were you the first Sri Lankan to achieve this feat but also the first Australian. What did that entail?

A. That’s where DJ’s from around the world play your songs depending on popularity and listeners requests. I was very Blessed. The main song that received airplay at that time was a song I wrote titled ‘Countrycity Unity’. It was produced by Garth Porter from the group Sherbet who brought us ‘Howzat’ in the ‘70’s.

Q:You’ve also charted in other countries in a similar way? What were some of them?

A. Sweden, Holland & Australia to name a few. My website has more details.

Q:You also just recently topped the Sri Lankan Hit Parade of Original songs for 6 consecutive weeks with a song you wrote, recorded and released over 20 years ago?

A. Ha ha! Makes me sound ancient but you’re right. The song is ‘Youth Of Today’ which I guess proves that the title is as relevant today, as much it was 20 years ago.

Q:Not only have you performed in Sri Lanka and Australia but you did a World Tour promoting and performing your song ‘Countrycity Unity’. How many countries did you take in?

A. That was a whirlwind tour – 19 countries in 2 months. And that, for someone who doesn’t like flying, is sheer madness.

Q:You received the Meningococcal Establishment Award for a song you wrote titled ‘The Miracle of Katie-Tara Murphy’. Tell us about that.

A. I was asked by someone to write a song for this beautiful little girl who was born with that awful disease and my heart went out to her and within minutes I wrote the song.

Q:What song was it that received personal commendation from Earl Spencer – the brother of Princess Diana?

A. That was ‘H.R.H. – Heaven Redeemed Heiress, Princess Di’. I really liked Princess Diana and I desperately wanted her to retain her royal title – hence I wrote the song Heaven Redeemed Heiress which abbreviates to H.R.H.

Q:Have you been back to Sri Lanka to perform?

A. Yes, in 1999. I did a few shows there appearing at the Trans Asia Hotel, the Colombo Swimming Club and Havelock Park – backed by the Cosmic Rays. Awesome experience and can’t wait to go back once the children are bigger. In fact that’s the first place we’ll travel to when we decide to go overseas.

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