Whiteabbey woman Erica McAuley - better known as the UK’s number one Pink tribute act, Alecia Karr - is setting her sights on a return to higher education.
The mother-of-three is planning to put her grey matter to the test by doing a PhD in neurology, specialising in the study of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease.
She has already applied to Queen’s University and several other universities in Great Britain, and hopes to start her research in October 2014.
Erica, who has twin boys aged 14 and another son aged 13, is currently trying to find a place on the right research project, but says she’ll definitely return to study, even if she has to fund it herself. She is also looking into the possibility of carrying out research in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Society.
Erica graduated in 2006 from Lancaster University with a degree in biochemistry and completed a masters degree in biomedicine at the same university the following year.
She moved to Northern Ireland with her husband, Chris, six years ago, and says she’s now passionate about returning to study, admitting that she’s “always loved neurology”.
While studying for her masters degree she worked with a protein trying to devise a laboratory test to see if it could be used as a biomarker to test for the early diagnosis of conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
“The brain is a muscle - a very intricate muscle. But when things go wrong in the brain they tend to go wrong on a grand scale, so that’s the area I want to research,” she said.
“It’s something that’s always been a passion for me and something that has really interested me. I suppose I’m a bit of a science geek at heart.”
Erica started her career as a Pink tribute performer while still an undergraduate after being spotted by a music promoter singing in a bar in Manchester. Over the years, she has developed her alter ego - Alecia Karr - and is now regarded as one of the top tribute acts in the country.
Alecia has taken her celebrated show all over the UK, Ireland and mainland Europe. And she has big plans for 2014 - her tenth year performing as the Grammy Award-winning US singer. She’s hopeful that she might even make it into the Guinness Book of Records as “the longest-running solo performer tribute act to any living star.”
Despite setting her sights on a return to academia, Erica insists that she’s no plans to kill off Alecia just yet.
“It’s just been getting stronger and stronger. I do everything I can to keep it light and keep it fresh for the fans,” she continued.
“It’s really great playing to crowds of familiar faces and to new people who’ve never seen you perform before. It’s an absolutely fantastic career and I love what I do. I’ve no plans to hang up my Pink shoes at the minute.”
Alecia will be taking her new ‘P!nk Unleashed’ show to venues across Northern Ireland over the next few weeks. For more information check out Alecia Karr on Facebook.