Celtic Woman: Five Celtic goddesses with the voices of angels
By CATHOLINE BUTLER
CELTIC WOMAN features five talented vocalists – Chloe, Lisa, Lynn, and Alex – along with the energetic and creative talents of Celtic violinist Mairead.
In March 2005 Celtic Woman was first broadcast on PBS television in the U.S. and almost immediately these five beautiful Celtic goddesses with the ethereal voices of angels captured the heart of American audiences.
Much of the group’s success in North America has been credited to the extensive PBS publicity throughout 2005.
Within weeks of releasing their debut album, Celtic Woman reached #1 on the Billboard World Music Chart, eventually breaking Andrea Bocelli’s long-standing record of chart-topping longevity.
Celtic Woman is an all-female musical ensemble conceived and assembled by David Downes, a former musical director of the Irish stage show Riverdance.
Celtic Woman style defines a distinct genre by putting a modern twist on the Celtic sound by tapping into the success of artists such as Enya and Clannad, along with stage shows Riverdance and Lord of the Dance. Celtic Woman has been described as being Riverdance for the voice.
Celtic Woman have sold over 50 million records worldwide, making it one of the most commercially successful musical acts in the world.
A new tour starting in February, called Songs from the Heart, coincides with the release of their fifth album and DVD of the same name.
Songs of the Heart was filmed for their brand-new PBS TV special concert in the lush Irish country setting of the majestic Powerscourt House and Gardens.
It is set under a dramatic evening summer sky with the backdrop of the historic estate and features the musical support of a 27 member musical orchestra; 20 member Discovery Gospel choir; 12 member Aontas Choir; 10 member extreme rhythm drummers; and an 11 piece bagpipe ensemble.
I recently spoke with Celtic Woman vocalist Chloe about the release of their new album and life on the tour circuit.
Both of her parents are successful entertainers in their own rights. Her mother, the singer and stage actress Adele ‘Twink’ King, is a household name in Ireland and her father, David Agnew, is a professional oboist.
Chloe first made her stage debut on her mother’s television show at four weeks old and sang on her show at the age of six.
In 1998, at the age of nine, she was awarded the Grand Prix at the First International Children’s Song Competition in Cairo, representing Ireland with a song called The Friendship Tree.
Her big break came at age 11, when she approached musical director David Downes with the idea of recording a single for charity which went on to raise $40,000.
It was after she recorded her second solo album at age 14, that she was asked to become a part of the very first Celtic Woman show. So, she has really grown-up with the show.
She said, “the songs on our album Songs from the Heart, are really songs that we have been singing since we were children. They really are songs from the heart and they have been wonderfully chosen.
“To date this is the biggest production that we have ever been involved in. There was so much preparation leading up to it but the wonderful team that we worked with made it all happen and put the jigsaw puzzle together.
“With a production like this, you need to be very focussed on what you have to do. You are not really aware of what is going on around you because you are so busy doing what you have to do. It’s only after you watch the film back that you realize what a huge production it was.”
Each singer in Celtic Woman has a special song on the album and Chloe said her special one is Goodnight My Angel. She said, “it has a special significance for me because that was the song my mother sang to me every night at bedtime. Of course, my mother is very happy that it is on the album.”
The number one question that is always asked of the vocalists is how well do they all get along, especially since they spend so much time on tour.
Chloe said, “I think people are always looking for a Desperate Housewives story. That we all really hate one another and nobody actually gets along. The reality is that we do all get along. The five of us are like sisters, we’re best friends.”
The other question which asked so often while on tour is how do they find time for boyfriends? Chloe said her boyfriend travels with her on tour and is very supportive of her career.
She said the one thing that has never changed since she started with Celtic Woman is her love for the music and the group she performs it with.
“There have been so many friendships formed and memories made in such a short space of time...it really does feel like a lifetime.”
Since Celtic Woman was formed, there have been several changes of personnel due to pregnancy, solo careers, or family commitments, with some returning to the group. But, the high level of talent and polished professionalism of the five members of Celtic Woman has never wavered.
Musical director David Downes has created a completely new program of repertoire for television, DVD and CD that showcases the beauty and presence of the five vocalists – Chloe, Lisa, Lynn, and Alex – along with the energetic and creative talents of Celtic violinist Mairead.
Celtic Woman is on tour throughout the United States and Canada, starting in February. Fans on the west Coast will be excited to hear that Celtic Woman will be in Seattle from May 11-13, Vancouver on May 15, Edmonton on May 17 and Calgary on May 18.
Celtic Woman Songs from the Heart album and DVD is available now in all fine record stores.