IRELAND ON SUNDAY
Ire. 05 Feb. 2006
By Danny McElhinney
Five Irish beauties called Celtic Woamn created a little bit of history last week when, after an amazing 46 weeks at No.1 in Billboard's World Albums chart, each of them made the same chart with individual albums – a feat equalled only by glam rockers Kiss in 1976.
Hailed as an 'Irish phenomenon' in America, the group has sold out huge venues across the globe, including New York's Carnegie Hall and a CD and DVD of their show, made for television only18 months ago, has gone platinum.
Now the girls are preparing for their Dublin debut giving Ireland the chance to hear their Celtic- tinged blend of show tunes, new-age folk and traditional airs set against big orchestral arrangements.
The group comprises singers Chloe Agnew (16-year-old daughter of Twink and David Agnew), Orla Fallon, Lisa Kelly and Deirdre Shannon, who stepped in recently for Meav Ni Mhaolchatha. All-Ireland fiddle champion Mairead Nesbitt accompanies on the violin.
Their musical director, David Downes, had a similar role with the US production of Riverdance. Indeed Meath brunette Deirdre Shannon tells me to think of the show as a 'Riverdance for the voice'.
Each of the performers is a renowned performer in her own right. Members of the group have shared stages with artists as diverse as Elvis Costello and Michael Crawford and performed at the Vatican and The White House.....
Deirdre says: 'We all enjoyed a degree of success before Celtic Woman so we don't get easily over-awed. I fronted Anuna and Lord Of the Dance for years and these were quite similar in terms of commitment.'
The girls give crystal-clear renditions of songs such as The Lst Rose Of Summer, Ave Maria, Harry's Game and Orinoco Flow. Taking care of their voices must surely be a primary concern and there can't be much after-show partying.
'God no!' says Orla in mock horror. 'After a show, it's onto the tour bus and into our pyjamas!'
The Global success of such a middle-of-the-road Irish vocal show shouldn't come as much of a surprise. After all, didn't it take Irish-American Michael Flatley to reinvigorate Irish dancing?...
That's not to say that they've forgotten their roots – not in Deirdre's case, anyway. 'I'm from the plains of Co. Meath – actually from up near the Cavan border, hence the drop-jaw accent,' she says. 'I still live in Meath. I'm very much a rural woman, not a city-slicker at all.
'Touring is like going on holiday and staying in hotels. Then when I come back, I'm dropped straight back into the byre!'...
Dublin, Ireland – a mere stop-off before another jaunt to North America, Japan, Australia and even wider frame.
Celtic Woman visits the Point Theatre on Saturday, February 18.
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