The talents of vocalists Chloë Agnew, Lisa Lambe and Susan McFadden, and violinist Máiréad Nesbitt, collectively known as Celtic Woman, have been dazzling audiences worldwide since the group’s formation in 2004.
They have become a global cultural phenomenon, mixing timeless traditional Celtic music with contemporary material, earning them a fan base comprised of young and old alike.
The group has landed a number of public television specials, finding their way into the living rooms of millions all over the world. This has no doubt played a huge role in helping the quartet sell more than seven million CDs and DVDs, in addition to three million concert tickets on stages worldwide. The group’s two most recent albums, the acclaimed Believe CD/DVD and the holidaythemed CD Home For Christmas, both debuted at #1 on Billboard’s World Music chart, marking eight consecutive chart-topping albums for the group.
Guided by Emmy-nominated music producer David Downes, the newest stage show from Celtic Woman sees them reaching into the catalogue of traditional Irish songs including ‘The Water Is Wide’ and ‘The Parting Glass.’ The group also offers fans a generous helping of contemporary pop hits such as Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and Christopher Cross’ ‘Sailing’ along with inspirational songs including ‘Ave Maria,’ all wrapped in the group’s signature sound.
‘It has probably been two to three years since we were last in Canada, which is a little hard to believe,’ Celtic Woman’s Chloë Agnew tells The Times & Transcript. ‘The show we are doing on this tour is rather different from the last tour we performed. With this tour, we really wanted to get back to basics and bring back some of the songs that are among the most loved by our fans. People have wanted to hear some of these songs for some time now.
‘It isn’t only an exciting venture for our fans, however, but it is exciting for us as performers, as well. For the next four months, we get to freshen up our set list some. It is always wonderful to have that breath of fresh air inserted into the show.’
Although there have been some Celtic Woman lineup changes over the past decade, Chloë says that all band member transitions have been as seamless for the band as they have been for the audience.
‘We are so used to running the show at this stage, transitions are always seamless. What you’ve got in Celtic Woman are four real women each with their individual lives,’ she says. ‘It is only natural that people would want to start families and take on new projects.
‘The transitions are all what you make of them, too, of course. I feel it is exciting to keep things new and fresh. It keeps us on our toes. We consider ourselves very lucky to work with such amazing talent and to be a part of something that is so huge.’
Aside from the talented musicians that take the stage on a nightly basis, Chloë credits much of the success of Celtic Woman to David Downes, the founder of the group.
As a performer, Downes has played some of the world’s most prestigious stages, including Carnegie Hall. Chloë jokes that if it were up to her, Celtic Woman would have evolved into a rock ‘n’ roll show long ago. She says that David has both the talent and wisdom to help keep the show on track at all times.
‘The music performed really is David’s baby. At the end of the day, it is fantastic to have one person and their vision guiding us. David puts his heart and soul into the music. It is our job to bring it to life every night on stage.’
Chloë has performed with Celtic Woman for the past decade, estimating that the group has played upwards of 1,000 shows. She says that while it is completely natural and expected for the members of the band as well as their touring personnel to miss being home with loved ones, they have found a second family in one another to help make being away from home a little easier.
‘Being on tour is a lot to take on but at this point we are so used to doing it that it has become a way of life,’ she says. ‘Those long months away from home and saying goodbye to friends and family is tough but the upside is that we get to step into another world and another family to help soften being away from home.
‘There is a sense of camaraderie both on stage and off stage which in turn translates to our audience. If someone is paying their hard-earned money to come to the show, we want to do everything within our power to help them escape from their troubles, even if only for a couple of hours. As a performer, you end up living for those two hours on stage every night. It doesn’t matter what kind of day you’ve had, when you look out into the audience and see a little girl dancing in her seat, all of your troubles vanish.’
Article published in the February 26, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript