Do Savannnah

Celtic Woman returns to Savannah for a celebration of Irish music and dance

 

Celtic Woman returns to Savannah for a celebration of Irish music and dance

08 Mar 2017

A bit of Irish luck has given Savannah the opportunity to see the latest Celtic Woman show on March 14 — just three days before St. Patrick’s Day.

Celtic Woman’s 2017 tour is named after the group’s latest album, “Voices of Angels.” The concerts feature all new stage designs, wardrobes, choreography and arrangements of Irish traditional and contemporary standards.

“It’s very different from other albums that have come before,” singer Mairead Carlin says. “It’s the first time we’ve used a 72-piece orchestra.

“There is much more of an Irish influence. It’s also a bit more of a classical crossover repertoire.

“We wanted to rediscover old favorites of Celtic Woman,” she says. “On this album, we have old favorites that have been completely rearranged. When you come to the show, it will be like listening to the songs for the first time.”

In addition to a new album, Celtic Woman has a new member in violinist Tara McNeill.

“She joined us in July,” Carlin says. “This is her first U.S. tour.”

Susan McFadden and Eabha McMahon are the other singers in the group. The show also features Irish musicians and dancers.

Celtic Woman was formed in 2004 in Dublin, Ireland. The group has sold more than 10 million albums and 3 million tickets worldwide.

The group’s first performance was recorded for PBS television. Within weeks, their debut album, “Celtic Woman,” reached No. 1 on the Billboard World Music chart, staying there for 81 weeks.

A native of Derry in the north of Ireland, Carlin comes from a musical family. She has performed for the president of Ireland and sung the Irish anthem for the England-Ireland Rugby International for a television audience of millions.

Carlin wanted to be in Celtic Woman for a long time.

“I signed up for the newsletter before I joined,” she says. “I was always a fan of the music. The music connected with me on a deep level.

“When I was singing, I found myself in a place of limbo. I listened to Celtic Woman for direction.

“I thought, ‘That’s the kind of music I want to sing,’” Carlin says. “They emulated everything I wanted to be as a singer.”

Growing up listening to Irish music, Carlin never dreamed she’d one day travel the world to be a performer.

“Never in a million years,” she says. “I guess dreams really come true.”

Only 4 when she had her first singing lesson and 5 when she first competed in a singing contest, Carlin was 15 when she officially began her career. She won a young singers award that earned her the title role of “The Rose” in the opera “The Little Prince,” which was presented at Covent Garden. The opera was recorded and aired on BBC Two and PBS.

Carlin was 18 when she studied classical singing in London.

“I studied opera at a conservatory in London at Trinity College of Music,” she says. “I got signed to Decca Records at 21 in London and made a record with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

“Celtic Woman was always a point of reference for making that record,” Carlin says. “Sadly, as things happen in the music industry, it was canceled a week before it was going to be released. It never saw the light of day until recently.”

That debut album, “Songbook,” was finally released in 2014. While waiting for an opportunity to sing professionally, Carlin became a singing teacher, working with children.

“Only then did I discover music for what it really was,” she says. “Then I became part of Celtic Woman.

“I believe everything happens for a reason,” Carlin says. “It made me the artist I am today. It made me appreciate the opportunity to sing.”

A chance encounter led to Carlin’s big break.

“I was performing in New York when I bumped into a fella at the party I was performing at,” she says. “He was with Decca.

“I told him I’d always admired Celtic Woman. He said he worked with them.

“I gave him my album,” Carlin says. “When Chloë Agnew decided to leave Celtic Woman, I got called.”

Being with Celtic Woman means lots of travel.

“We are on the road eight months a year,” Carlin says. “I’ve seen China, Korea, South Africa, Australia, Canada and I’ve been to America six to seven times.

“I’ve discovered these amazing places I would never go to normally. There are so many beautiful places.

“I do get tired, I’m not going to lie,” she says. “But it shows how lucky we are to be doing what we love. Everybody gets tired at some point, but we have to keep remembering we’re very, very lucky to be performing and bringing Irish music across the world.”

And Carlin’s favorite part of the job?

“I actually love recording,” she says. “It’s where I’m happiest. I can be spontaneous and creative in the recording studio.

“But I also love being on the TV shows and performing live. I also love meeting our fans, as well.

“Without them, we wouldn’t be here,” Carlin says. “I actually love most of it.”

There have been some amazing moments along the way.

“The first one was being able to perform in the Royal Albert Hall supporting Don McLean,” Carlin says. “It was one of those moments where I remember vividly walking on stage, standing at the microphone and seeing a 100 percent packed Royal Albert Hall. The feeling of ‘How did I get here?’ was very overwhelming.

“Another one was performing with Carly Simon at the Beverly Wilshire for Oceana, the charity for saving the oceans. I’m an environmentalist and here I was performing with Carly Simon. I remember being in a hotel room and working on the harmony,” Carlin says. “Who gets to work on harmony with Carly Simon?”

Savannah is one of Carlin’s favorite stops.

“We’re so excited to bring the tour to Savannah,” she says. “I’ve been to Savannah once before and it’s so beautiful, so gorgeous. I love Savannah.”

IF YOU GO

What: Celtic Woman presents “Voices of Angels”

When: 7 p.m. March 14

Where: Johnny Mercer Theatre, Savannah Civic Center, 301 Oglethorpe Ave.

Cost: $39-$99

Info: 912-651-6550, savannahcivic.com

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