Great Celtic Music
Great Celtic music
What is it about Celtic music that so many people love? I can speak only for myself. Something about this music speaks to my soul. It conjures up images to me of quaint Irish villages, rolling hills covered in heather, and the rugged Scottish Highlands. Perhaps this is some inherited memory from my ancestors. Whatever the reason, Celtic music has enjoyed a vigorous resurgence in the United States, and in fact, around the globe. Please do yourself a favor and take the time to listen to the attached video recordings of my three favorite Celtic groups. I think you'll find this Celtic music as moving as I do.
This was an awesome Scottish duo made up of Ronnie Browne and Roy Williamson. Actually, they started out as a trio in 1962, called the Corrie Folk Trio, with Williamson, Ron Cockburn, and Bill Smith. Cockburn left the group soon after it was formed, with Ronnie Browne as his replacement. In 1966, Smith left the group, also. Browne and Williamson called themselves The Corries.
Williamson was a gifted woodworker who invented two new instruments called the “combolins.” One combined a mandolin, a bass, and a guitar; the other was a combination of a bandurria, a sitar, and a guitar.
Many of the Corries songs are hauntingly beautiful. Their Celtic music includes old folk songs and ballads. Their repertoire ranged from folk songs to Jacobite tunes to love ballads. Their 1974 release of “Flower of Scotland” was adopted by rugby fans as their national anthem, perhaps because Williamson had played rugby for the Edinburgh Wanderers.
Sadly, in 1990, Roy Williamson passed away. The Corries were inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame in 2007.
My favorite song by the Corries is "Lake Lomond." Williamson sings it in Scottish brogue. I also love "Wild Mountain Thyme," an old folk song. Both videos are below.
I first saw this five-man group in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, 2008, and I was blown away. Their harmony is amazing!
The group is comprised of four Irishmen – Paul Michael Byrom, Keith Ronald Harkin, Ryan John Kelly, and Damian McGinty. The oldest member, George Donaldson, is from Scotland. Young McGinty is only 17 and is the obvious crowd favorite.
The singers are backed by Celtic Thunder Band and have a wide range of songs and styles. At times they sing as a group, and at other times, a soloist is featured. Their songs include traditional folk songs, as well as those made famous by Jim Croce, Chicago, Neil Diamond, and Frank Sinatra. In 2009, the group performed at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama.
My favorite songs performed by Celtic Thunder are “Caledonia” and “Danny Boy.” Listen to the videos below!
Celtic Woman is an amazing all-female singing group, the brainchild of David Downes of Riverdance fame. Originally, the ensemble was made up of Orla Fallon, Lisa Kelly, Chloe Agnew, Meav Ni Mhaolchatha, and Mairead Nesbitt. The latest version of Celtic woman consists of Kelly, Agnew, Nesbitt, Alex Sharpe, and Lynn Hilary.
Not only do these women have glorious voices, Nesbitt often accompanies them on her fiddle. They’ve sold over 50 million records and have entertained audiences around the world with their combination of old traditional tunes and modern songs, along with other examples of Celtic music.
I think my favorite performance by Celtic Woman is "Scarborough Fair," sung at Slane Caste, Ireland. I also like “You Raise Me Up.” It begins with the plaintive notes of Nesbitt’s instrument. Listen to both examples of Celtic music below.