Raise the Question: CELTIC WOMAN

DT: February 8, 2017

Q&A
CELTIC WOMAN

As the foursome of CELTIC WOMAN prepare for their visit to the Grammy Awards this weekend, please see attached Q&A with three of the group’s members:  Mairéad Carlin, Éabha McMahon and breathtaking new Celtic violinist Tara McNeillAlong with Susan McFadden, they’ll hit the Grammys before heading out on a four-month tour kicking off March 2 in Lakeland, FL.  The 84-city trek follows the late 2016 release of Celtic Woman’s latest studio album VOICES OF ANGELS which topped the Billboard World at #1.

 

EABHA

What do you look forward to most when you return home from touring?

I love meeting my family at the airport, it’s the best feeling in the world. The excitement of getting off the plane and collecting your bags is overwhelming. Then, when the sliding doors open and you see your family waiting with open arms, you just can’t beat that feeling of joy!  I also love having dinner the first night when I’m back; we all sit around and catch up on what has been going on.

What has surprised you most in your career? 

I suppose what has surprised me most is that I get to do what I love most, every day and call it a job. Growing up, I never imagined that I could sing in the traditional Irish style and make a living from it.  Celtic Woman gives Irish music a platform to evolve.  It makes me so proud to be a part of it. I studied Human Rights in university, and I thought that I would become a human rights lawyer.  But the music inside me made me take a chance to go out and pursue my dream. And to be honest I still pinch myself every day that this is my life.  And that I get to sing to people every day. But what I have learned most is to trust your gut and follow your heart, because you just might surprise yourself!

Do you have any rituals before hitting the stage? 

Yes. We have a group ritual whereby we all stand side stage and link our baby fingers together while standing in a circle. It symbolizes unity and sisterhood. No matter what happens on that stage we have each other covered. Nobody stands alone on that stage. It’s a symbol of support and empowerment. It really sets us up for the show.

What is the one song lyric that you just can’t get out of your head? 

At the moment the lyrics for ‘Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears, by Brendan Graham, is on my mind.  ‘Isle of Hope, Isle of tears, Isle of freedom, Isle of tears. But it’s not the Isle you’ve left behind.’  There are millions of people around the world at the moment that are currently fleeing war-torn countries, in search for a safe place to stay. This weighs heavy on my mind, and I can’t imagine how much pain they must be feeling. The Irish were once in this situation and many countries around the world helped us as a nation.  Brendan Graham’s song so eloquently describes how the Irish felt when they immigrated to Ellis Island in 1892. We have been there, so I hope as a nation that we can give something back, by helping those in need.

If you could do a duet with anyone, who would it be?

I think as a group it would be amazing to collaborate with Il Divo. They are fabulous singers and each singer has a very unique voice. But when they come together, they blend so beautifully. I would love to hear what a duet would sound like.

Can you talk about the energy in the  group?

The energy in the group is really quite special. We are like one big family. I really love how welcoming and encouraging everyone is. The cast have changed over the years, but the mantra of the group has always remained the same. Support, encourage and inspire each other. Stand together and lift each other.

Touring can mean that you are away from your family and friends for long periods of time, so having supportive people around you is so important.  I think this is an integral part of why Celtic Woman has continued to succeed for 12 years. There has always been such a huge level of respect amongst the cast, each member bringing something uniquely different to the table.

 

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MAIREAD

What’s your favorite track on the album and why?

Definitely “Time to Say Goodbye”–for very personal reasons. My dad passed away two weeks before the recording of this album, so when I sang this song it was my way of coming to terms with what had just happened. Music really is a healer.

As the newest members of the Celtic Woman 12-year-legacy what do you think makes this incarnation different?  What do you all bring to the table?

We all come from such different backgrounds:  Eabha comes from a traditional Irish way of singing called Sean Nós, Susan trained in musical theater, Tara is a classically trained violinist and I come from a classical/folk background–it’s not often that fusion works but for some reason it just does with us.  It’s amazing.

You all are embarking on an extensive North American tour launching March 2, 2017 in Lakeland, Florida.  What can fans expect from this live experience?

This is our first classical-influenced album so fans can expect lush orchestrations of songs new and old. Classical songs like “Ave Maria” mixed with new arrangements of old fan favorites like “Mo Ghile Mar” all compiled by our awesome musical director Gavin Murphy. We bring our entire band with us on our four month tour–they are integral to Celtic Woman! We also have Irish dancers which brings a real physical and percussive element to the show.

Are there any cities/venues that you’re especially looking forward to visiting/revisiting on the Spring tour?

I absolutely cannot wait to perform in Red Rocks, Colorado again. It’s truly one of the most beautiful venues I have ever seen–so much history.

If you were to record a duet with an artist outside the genre of music for which you are known, who might that be and which song would you cover?

I would record a duet with Mary Chapin Carpenter who is an Americana singer. I have loved her for such a long time–and we would cover a song “Dimming of the Day.”

Can you talk about the new energy of the group from both an artistic and business perspective?

We have tried to take the focus off the ‘broadway show’ element and actually try to focus much more on bringing it back to the energy of the performances. It can be distracting from the music if there’s too much going on onstage and a lot of audience members have commented on that in the past.  With this new show it’s all about the performances:  true, honest, singing. That’s how you move people–when you sing from your soul, it’s much more powerful.

How do you feel your new material may differ from previous songs, musically and/or lyrically? 

The arrangements are vastly more orchestral–and they are pushed way up in the mixes on the album. This is because we wanted the orchestra to feel like the fifth member of Celtic Woman. The classical element on this album is something that hasn’t really been done before in Celtic Woman. Of course there have been orchestras before on albums, but they weren’t a major focus–we wanted to make them have their own platform. It’s a big sound and in turn has created such a powerful and moving album.

Do you have any rituals before hitting the stage?

We all link pinky fingers side stage to show each other that no matter what happens we have each other’s backs.

What has surprised you most in your career? 

When I was 21, I got signed to a major record label and after two years, the album was shelved. I found myself in a place where I had no money and no job–it was a very scary place to be. I started to fall out of love with the idea of being a professional singer and began to teach kids in a performing arts school and it gave me the most joy I have ever experienced. About a year later, when I had rediscovered the true meaning of music and my love for it, I got a call from Celtic Woman. I am eternally grateful for those experiences because now when I sing it’s about what matters most–making people come away feeling moved and changed. Life is hard for a lot of people and they come to our shows to feel a sense of peace and to be uplifted. That’s a vocation for all of us on stage and we cherish it. We really do love our fans.

What do you look forward to most when you return home from touring?

Spending quality time with my family and my husband.

What’s the one song lyric–of any song–that you can’t get out of your head?

“You raise me up so I can’t stand on mountains” from the song of the same name. 

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TARA

VOICES OF ANGELS contains some of the most popular songs from the Celtic Woman repertoire, along with several previously unrecorded tracks.  What’s your favorite track on the album and why?

My favorite track on the album has to be the brand new arrangement of “Mo Ghile Mear.”  It has so much life and energy and I love the huge sound the orchestra makes!  It’s a moment when we all come together to sing and play and be proud of where we come from!

As the newest members of the Celtic Woman 12-year-legacy what do you think makes this incarnation different?  What do you all bring to the table?

I think the current line up of Celtic Woman is a very special one, and a group of women I’m very proud to share a stage with!  We all have our own unique musical backgrounds and when you put them together you get a great variety of performers!  Susan worked in musical theatre, Mairéad trained classically, Éabha is a traditional sean nos singer and I’m a classical violinist with a splash of Irish tradition!

You all are embarking on an extensive North American tour launching  March 2, 2017 in Lakeland, Florida.  What can fans expect from this live experience?

Fans can expect a brand new energy, new music, new arrangements, old favorites, all together with a huge orchestral sound!  The “Voices of Angels Tour” will touch your hearts and then have you off your seats!

Are there any cities/venues that you’re especially looking forward to visiting/revisiting on the Spring tour?

I’m especially looking forward to performing in Red Rocks Amphitheater, CO.  I have never been there before, but the girls have told me how incredible it is, so I can’t wait to experience it for myself!

If you were to record a duet with an artist outside the genre of music for which you are known, who might that be and which song would you cover?

I absolutely love Taylor Swift, her music just makes me feel so happy! So I would love to record a duet with her… and maybe we’d cover some Disney music!  Happiness overload!

Can you walk us through the special chemistry of the group and exactly why it works?

I think the four of us are very keen to make Celtic Woman the best that it can possibly be and because we each have our own strengths, there are endless possibilities as to what this group can achieve.  We are also very lucky to have a special bond that means we are there for each other, always supporting and encouraging each other to be the best that we can be!

How do you feel your new material may differ from previous songs, musically and/or lyrically?

Our new album Voices of Angels has the biggest orchestral sound yet, using a 72-piece orchestra.  This gives a huge new sound and energy to the songs.  This also gives the album a more classical feel but still always holding on to our Celtic and traditional Irish roots.

Do you have any rituals before hitting the stage?

Before we hit the stage we normally hook our fingers together to centre ourselves and wish each other good luck.  When we’re in our little circle, we remember that we’re a team and we want to go out and give our best show yet!

What has surprised you most in your career?

The biggest surprise of my career was getting into Celtic Woman!  I had admired the group for a long time and hoped that someday I would be up on the stage with them.  I worked very hard and when the opportunity arose, I couldn’t believe it!  Even now, I’m still trying to take it all in!

What do you look forward to most when you return home from touring?

I love coming home to my family and friends, a nice warm fire and my cozy bed!  There’s just no place like home!

What’s the one song lyric–of any song–that you can’t get out of your head?

I love the song lyric “we were not born to follow, we were all born to lead” from our song “Walk Beside Me.”  I feel these words are so meaningful to the four women of Celtic Woman as we are all up on that stage together as equals, all leading and bringing this special music to the audience together.

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