As hard as this might be to comprehend, Canadian pop superstar Corey Hart is still experiencing firsts in his career.
Corey has sold millions of records over the last 30 years, rising to international prominence in the 1980s when his song “Sunglasses At Night” found itself in heavy rotation on MTV in the United States. Thus began a life of more than 16 million records sold, packed stadiums, nine consecutive Billboard Top 40 hits and oodles of adoring fans.
Somewhat remarkably, however, when Corey Hart performs in Prince Edward Island this Saturday as a special guest to country superstar Shania Twain, it will be his first performance in the province.
“Earlier this summer, I was watching Anne of Green Gables with my kids and they suggested we should go there on vacation,” Corey tells The MusicNerd Chronicles earlier this week. “Three weeks later, I got a call from Shania Twain’s camp extending the invitation to perform. The timing couldn’t have been better.”
Sharing that Shania is a neighbour of his in the Bahamas and that her son goes to the same school as one of his children, it was the realization that he had not been to the Maritimes since 1988 that helped tip the scales in favour of him playing this show.
“Agreeing to play the show was a no-brainer. It was something that just felt right for me. Having never played Prince Edward Island certainly was a factor but the fact I also knew my band would be tight enough despite not having played since June 3, I knew we could pull the show off. It is such an honour to be playing the show.”
The June 3 show Corey refers to was a four-hour farewell performance before almost 14,000 fans at Montreal’s Bell Centre, encompassing a staggering 38-song set list. Admitting that at the time he did not believe any other shows would be in his future, his marathon hometown show was an emotional event for the singer and his family.
A father to four children ranging in age from 10 through 18 years old, Corey’s kids had never seen their father play a full concert prior to his early June performance at the Bell Centre.
Although his show in Montreal was billed as a farewell performance, even the most casual of observers would have recognized that Corey has kept a low profile since the turn of the century. Over the last 14 years, Corey has only dabbled in the occasional live show in addition to having released a handful of singles, but this past April, he released his first studio record in more than 15 years, Ten Thousand Horses.
He says that his semi-retirement from the music business in the time leading up to Ten Thousand Horses was no accident.
“I grew up not knowing my father and didn’t want my children to have that same experience,” Corey says. “By no means am I judging other artists or musicians that balance their career with being parents but it was especially important to me that I did not become a tourist father in my children’s lives. I’ve been very fortunate that the groundwork I laid in the 80’s and 80’s afforded me the opportunity to be with them as they were growing up.”
Of course, a big part of having chosen his children over his music career at the turn of the century involved Corey remaining inconspicuously absent from social media and the web in general. As recently as two years ago, Corey didn’t even have an official website.
When the reticent musician finally emerged with an official web presence, he found himself connecting one-on-one with his still loyal fans. As they began peppering him with questions including the topics of some of his songs, Corey decided that penning an autobiography was perhaps the ultimate way of setting the record straight on a number of matters.
Chasing The Sun – My Life In Music was released earlier this year.
“Releasing the book to coincide with my concert at the Bell Centre was not a calculated move,” he says. “The book itself came together quite unexpectedly over the course of the last two years. I had people reaching out to me that initially connected with my music because of a song they heard when they were 16 or 17 years old. But their questions started running much deeper; they wanted to know how specific songs were born and the inspiration behind others.
“Writing this book afforded me the opportunity to finally put everything down in my own words.”
Corey’s book does not serve as a footnote on his career as much as it offered him the opportunity to look back upon what has been a remarkable life. Admitting he does not anticipate undertaking future live performances after his show in Charlottetown this Saturday, he says that becoming a global superstar in the age of the music video is something that will remain with him for the rest of his life.
“There was no schooling or apprenticeship for becoming a pop star. I went from being completely unknown to people knowing me wherever I went. Dealing with the fame and notoriety was a big life adjustment for me but having the opportunity to be a singer-songwriter and play to arenas full of people is a feeling like few others in the world.”
What: Corey Hart
When: Saturday Aug. 30, 4:30 p.m.
Where: Charlottetown Events Ground, Corner of Grafton and Water Streets, Charlottetown, PEI
Tickets range from $89.50 to $179.50. Advance tickets are available by phone at (902) 629-6625 and online at www.shaniapei.ca