Celtic Woman - singing songs of Irish heritage
March is the month of St. Patrick's Day and I have just recently discovered I'm a bit Irish. I did an ancestry.com DNA kit, and lo and behold I am 7% Irish. Well, that's enough for me.
I can now be Irish everyday and I love everything Irish - laughing leprechauns, rainbows and pots of gold, Irish luck, four leaf clovers, Erin go Bragh, and best of all, my niece and nephews who ARE Irish.
One of the other things I love about Ireland is the singing ensemble, Celtic Woman, an all female Irish musical ensemble, originally founded and produced by Sharon Browne and David Downes, a former musical director of the Irish, Riverdance.
Celtic Woman is quite the Irish cultural experience that has exploded onto the international music scene with great success. Their singing repertoire ranges from traditional Celtic tunes sung in Gaelic and English to modern songs, and songs of their own composition.
The women that form the group or 'line', as they call it, has changed over the years as the women have gone on to pursue soloist careers, perform in other theatre, or to create families with the birth of babies.
The Irish Riverdance and Lord of the Dance, popular internationally, paved the way for Celtic Woman to become so popular outside of Ireland, the British Isles and the rest of Europe. They first appeared on PBS in the U.S. in March 2005 and have been a popular success in this country ever since then with sold out appearances here and in Australia too.
It was their taped concert appearance at the Helix in Dublin, Ireland in September 2004 in front of a sold out audience, that PBS showed in March or 2005. I was then enthralled with this singing ensemble and loved their lovely, lilting and talented Irish voices as they sang both in Gaelic and English.
They have taken the historical old Celtic songs from years gone by and made them popular again not only in Ireland but throughout the world. As they perfectly harmonize they add so much to the songs with their beautiful Irish/Gaelic accents. They are a joy to listen to.
The first group of Celtic Woman was comprised of: Chloe Agnew, Orla Fallon, Lisa Kelly, Meav Ni Mhaolchatha, (vocalists) and Mairead Nesbitt (vocalist and fiddler).
They appear here on PBS all over the United States when PBS has their membership drives, as this group always brings in money for PBS. Last night, I just watched their BELIEVE tour, taped at Notre Dame University in Indiana a year ago. They were as beautiful as always both to see and hear.
Celtic Woman sing "Mo Ghile Mear"
- Celtic Woman - Official Website of Irish Music Sensation Celtic Woman
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Celtic Woman sing some of their songs 'acappela', without music; but, they also have a full orchestra behind them and most of their songs are sung with music accompaniment. They also have quite a percussion section, with steel drums among other unique percussion instruments. They also use wooden flutes from days gone by to produce their unique, Celtic sound.
The women are multi-talented and also play several musical instruments as well as sing. Orla Fallon sings and plays the harp when she sings with Celtic Woman.
They have various back-up singers, a position I would die for to sing, to add to their songs and melodies. They frequently use bagpipes especially needed for their beautiful rendition of "Amazing Grace," one of their songs they usually sing during every performance.
These unique women never disappoint in their appearances as I have seen nearly everyone of their tours and performances on PBS. They are coming to Akron, Ohio in May, and I hope to see a live performance of Celtic Woman for the first time. They are on tour in the U.S from February to June 2014 with their Emerald Tour.
The Celtic Woman singers I heard last night on PBS were: Chloe Agnew, Mairead Nesbitt, Susan McFadden , and Lisa Lambe and they sang beautifully. They always sing in gorgeous full length gowns and make several costume changes during the show. Their shows are always elegant and endearing.
The audience enjoys them so and all eyes are on the lovely women as they sing. Small children to octogenarians make up the audience as their singing appeals to all ages and their concerts are wonderful for family night events as their appeal is universal.
Their musical compositions and direction comes from one of their founders, David Downes. He studied music and composition at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland and also graduated from there.
He first was musical director of Riverdance for the U.S. and European Touring Companies and orchestrator of Riverdance on Broadway at the Gershwin Theatre. As a producer he has worked with oboist David Agnew and recently produced the Gold debut album of young Irish singer Chloe Agnew.
It was in 2004, that Downs first recruited five Irish female musicians who had never performed together before. As I mentioned before, the group has changed over the years and new young women have been added when others have taken sabbaticals and leaves of absences.
David Downes has produced eight Celtic Woman albums and a number of their world tours. Celtic Woman has sold more than six million albums worldwide. They have also reached number one on Billboard's World Music Chart, even breaking Andrea Bocceli's long standing record.
Celtic Woman stayed number one for sixty-eight weeks and their original album held top position on Billboard's World Music chart for eighty-one weeks total.
The women singers have performed three tours in the U.S. and additional performances overseas. Celtic Woman appeared live in a dozen U.S. cities in 2005 for their original album debut.
Chloe Agnew is on leave of absence right now from Celtic Woman and Susan McFadden has stepped in for her and previously for Lisa Kelly, when she was in leave having babies.
Lisa Kelly has announced in January 2013 that she is planning to open "The Lisa Kelly Voice Academy" along with her husband, in Peachtree City, GA and has confirmed she would not be returning to Celtic Woman. Mairead Carlin, the first Celtic Woman from Northern Ireland, will take her place.
Right now as I am writing this,Celtic Woman has been tour in Australia bringing their BELIEVE tour to the land 'down under' since January 2014. They are now back in the U.S. for their 2014 Emerald Tour, a tour to highlight and celebrate the heritage of the Emerald Isles. (Ireland)
I am looking forward to this tour, full of traditional Gaelic songs and their lilting Irish accents and voices to sing them. What a treat one of their concerts would make for a true St. Patrick's Day celebration.
Celtic Woman sing "You Raise Me Up"
Celtic Woman perform at Slane Castle, Ireland 2006
© 2014 Suzette Walker