Celtic Woman is an all-female Irish musical ensemble conceived and created by David Kavanagh, Sharon Browne and David Downes, a former musical director of the Irish stage show Riverdance. In 2004, he recruited five Irish female musicians who had not previously performed together: vocalists Chloë Agnew, Órla Fallon, Lisa Kelly and Méav Ní Mhaolchatha, and fiddler Máiréad Nesbitt, and shaped them into the first lineup of the group that he named “Celtic Woman,” a specialty breed. Downes chose a repertoire that ranged from traditional Celtic tunes to modern songs.
The group’s line-up has changed over the years; in 2009, the group consisted of Chloë Agnew, Lynn Hilary, Lisa Kelly, Alex Sharpe and fiddler Máiréad Nesbitt; Alex Sharpe left the group in May 2010. Ten albums have been released under the name “Celtic Woman:” Celtic Woman, Celtic Woman: A Christmas Celebration, Celtic Woman: A New Journey, Celtic Woman: The Greatest Journey, Celtic Woman: Songs from the Heart, Celtic Woman: Lullaby, Celtic Woman: Believe, Celtic Woman: Home for Christmas,” “Celtic Woman: Emerald – Musical Gems. and Celtic Woman: Destiny. The group has undertaken a number of world tours. Cumulatively, albums by Celtic Woman have sold over nine million records worldwide.
The foundation for Celtic music’s popularity outside Ireland and Europe was built by tapping into the success of artists such as Enya, Moya Brennan 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 has been named Billboard World Album Artist of the Year six times.
The current members of Celtic Woman are (in alphabetical order of family name):
- Máiréad Carlin (5 December 1988) is an Irish singer and a member of the ensemble Celtic Woman. Carlin was born in Derry, Northern Ireland. She began her career at the age of 15 when she won the title role of ‘The Rose’ in BBC Talents ‘Young Singers’ competition in The Little Prince (opera) by Rachel Portman. Máiréad has since performed for the President of Ireland, celebrated the Irish Anthem for the England-Ireland Rugby International to a TV audience of millions and recently, she has shared the stage with Snow Patrol and The Priests at the 2013 BBC TV Gala Concert ‘Sons and Daughters’ to mark Derry’s year as City of Culture. She also recorded the City of Culture anthem ‘Let The River Run’ with Glee star Damian McGinty. Carlin subsequently released the single under her own label Iris Records/Walled City Records. After finishing her degree, Máiréad was signed to Decca Records and recorded her debut album, ‘Songbook’ with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in Air Studios and British Grove Studios. On 5 August 2013, the Celtic Woman website reported that Chloë Agnew would be taking a break from Celtic Woman to work on solo projects, and on 23 August 2013, it reported that Máiréad Carlin would be taking Chloë’s place.
- Susan McFadden (8 February 1983) is an actress and singer born in Dublin, Ireland. She has also been a member of the all-female Celtic music group, Celtic Woman, since 2012. She is the younger sister of former Westlife member, Brian McFadden. In 2008, McFadden recorded two songs for the CD Act One – Songs From The Musicals Of Alexander S. Bermange, an album of 20 brand new recordings by 26 West End stars, released in November 2008 on Dress Circle Records. She played the lead role of Milly in the stage adaption of Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, with Steven Houghton. McFadden starred in the original west end cast of the musical Legally Blonde at the Savoy Theatre in London’s West End playing Elle Woods after originating the role of Serena. Official reviews and audience reaction were extremely positive. On 5 January 2012, McFadden was named as a replacement for Lisa Kelly, then going on maternity leave, in the all- female ensemble Celtic Woman. McFadden debuted with Celtic Woman in February at Nashville, Tennessee for the kickoff of the “Believe” North American Tour and continued with the European, Australian and South African Tours in 2012. After Lisa Kelly announced her departure from the group in January 2013, McFadden has since become a full-time member of Celtic Woman.
- Éabha McMahon (9 December 1992) is Celtic Woman’s newest member. She replaced Lynn Hilary in their brand new tour, Destiny.
- Máiréad Nesbitt (pronounced “mah-raid”) (19 April 1979) is an Irish classical and Celtic music performer, most notably as a fiddle player and violinist. She is currently the fiddler for the group Celtic Woman. She has been a piano player since the age of four, and began playing the violin at age six. She spent some time as fiddler for the Irish group Coolfin, and recorded an album with them. Nesbitt broke into the wider world in 1996 when she was invited to perform in the Michael Flatley show Lord of the Dance.There, she played lead fiddle until 1998, at which time she went with Flatley to his second show, Feet of Flames. She toured in this production, again as lead fiddler, until leaving in 2001. Nesbitt also played on the original soundtracks to both shows, as well as for the soundtrack to Riverdance. In 2004, Nesbitt was invited to play violin for a performance at the Helix Theatre in Dublin, called “Celtic Woman.” The popularity of this and subsequent performances on television and live albums led to five tours across theUnited States. Celtic Woman has released a total of eight albums to date: Celtic Woman, Celtic Woman: A Christmas Celebration, Celtic Woman: A New Journey, Celtic Woman: The Greatest Journey, Celtic Woman: Songs from the Heart, Celtic Woman: Lullaby,Celtic Woman: Believe, and Celtic Woman: Home for Christmas. Nesbitt is featured as a soloist on Walt Disney’s direct to DVD film Tinker Bell. Joel McNeely composed music specifically to fit Nesbitt’s distinctive style, and collaborated with her to further polish the music for Celtic authenticity. Shortly before Thanksgiving, 2011, Nesbitt married Jim Mustapha, Jr., lighting director for Celtic Woman, in Maui, Hawaiʻi.
The past members of Celtic Woman are (in alphabetical order of family name):
- Chloë Agnew (9 June 1989) in Dublin, Ireland is an Irish singer who is a former member of the Celtic music group Celtic Woman, as well as its youngest member. In 1998, Agnew represented Ireland and was the winner of the Grand Prix at the First International Children’s Song Competition in Cairo with a song called The Friendship Tree. She then began to perform pantomime at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin and continued in that role for four years. In 2000, aged 11, Agnew approached director David Downes about recording a song to raise money for the children of Afghanistan. With his help, she recorded Angel of Mercy for the album This Holy Christmas Night, which raised over £20,000 for the Afghan Children’s Charity Fund in 2001. That same year, she joined the Christ Church Cathedral Girls’ Choir, and remained a member for three years. In 2002, she was signed to Celtic Collections, and with the backing of Downes, she recorded her debut album, Chloë. In 2004, she released her second album, Chloë: Walking in the Air.She also recorded a companion DVD for her second album, released in Europe in 2004 and in North America in 2007. She appeared as part of the group Celtic Woman at The Helix in Dublin in 2004. As of August 2013, she has recorded eight albums with the group and has taken part in several world tours. On 5 August 2013, the Celtic Woman website announced that Agnew would be taking a break from Celtic Woman to focus on solo projects. Her position was filled by Derry-born singer Máiréad Carlin. Agnew has a soprano vocal range. After leaving Celtic Woman, she was chosen to be the special guest of the Celtic Thunder cruise. She, along with former Celtic Thunder member Paul Byrom, was also a special guest of Lisa Kelly’s concerts called The Voice of Ireland and A Celtic Christmas. Agnew was also part of Ethan Bortnick‘s concert with another former Celtic Thunder member Damian McGinty.
- Órlagh Fallon (24 August 1974), professionally known as Órla Fallon, is an Irish soloist, songwriter and former member of the group Celtic Woman and the chamber choir Anúna. Her debut album, The Water is Wide, was released in Europe in 2000 and in North America in 2006. In 2005, she was featured on The Duggans album Rubicon along with peers Moya Brennan and other members of Clannad. In 2004, Fallon sent a demo offer to composer David Downes, who was then working on the concept of Celtic Woman. Due to her unique vocal abilities, Downes contacted Fallon and asked if she would like to be a part of Celtic Woman, then only envisaged to be a one-night show. Fallon agreed, and became one of the founding members of the group. In some songs, Fallon has performed the harp as well as singing – some examples of the songs she has performed are “Isle of Innisfree” and “Carrickfergus.” She has also performed the harp for fellow Celtic Woman member Chloe Agnew’s performance of Guun’s “Ave Maria.” Fallon was featured in the self-titled debut album Celtic Woman, Celtic Woman: A Christmas Celebration, and Celtic Woman: A New Journey, as well as in the tie-in PBS television specials and DVDs filmed in 2004, 2007, and 2006 respectively. She also toured with the group in 2005 on the inaugural North American Tour, the 2006-07 A New Journey tour, and again in 2007-08 on the second A New Journey tour. In 2009, Fallon announced that she would be leaving Celtic Woman to have a full break and spend time with her family, and was replaced as a member of Celtic Woman by actress and vocalist Alex Sharpe. In 2009, Fallon appeared as a guest vocalist on Jim Brickman‘s “It’s a Beautiful World” tour and PBS special, and released her second album Distant Shore in September of that year. This was followed in March 2010 with her third album Music of Ireland: Welcome Home. In December 2010, Fallon released a PBS Celtic Christmas special and tie-in CD, titled Órla Fallon’s Celtic Christmas, the first time any former Celtic Woman member had starred in their own PBS special. In this special, as well as Fallon’s own songs, there were also songs which featured a few guest singers, including former fellow Celtic Woman member Méav Ní Mhaolchatha, in which they sung a duet together (“Do you hear what I hear”), and American Idol runner up David Archuleta, who joined Fallon on stage to perform “Silent Night,” “Pat a Pan,” and the finale song of “Here we come A-Wassailing,” which Ní Mhaolchatha was also featured in. This was the second Christmas album she recorded, the first being Winter, Fire & Snow: A Celtic Christmas Collection in September 2010. In March 2011, Fallon released another album, Órla Fallon: My Land, which tied in with another PBS special. Another solo album,Lullaby Time, was released in 2012. She married her husband John and together they have a son Freddie.
- Lynn Hilary (21 April) is an Irish singer, guitarist, and songwriter. She also has performed as a featured soprano soloist in the all-female ensemble Celtic Woman. She was born in Dublin, Ireland, and completed a Bachelor of Music performance degree in 2005 at the DIT College of Music. Initially singing classical music, Hilary joined the Irish choral group Anúna in 2000. She also performed the lead vocal of the piece “Cloudsong” from Riverdance at the Opening Ceremony of the 2003 Special Olympics in Croke Park, Dublin, and toured the US with Riverdance in 2006 as a featured soloist. In 2007, longtime Celtic Woman member Méav Ní Mhaolchatha decided to leave the group to focus on her solo career. As a result, Hilary joined the group in time to feature in the A New Journey tour, which started on 10 October 2007 in Estero, FL. She was the first time member to join the group since its inception in 2004. On 14 February 2014, it was announced that Lynn would be returning to Celtic Woman for their Emerald tour in March while Lisa Lambe goes on a short ‘leave of absence.’ Lambe is expected to return in the summer and it is unknown at this point whether Lynn’s return to Celtic Woman is temporary or permanent. Hilary will be releasing her first album since 2009, titled “Saturn Return” which is due later in 2014. According to the Celtic Woman website, Hilary has rejoined with the music ensemble for their next album and will continue to be a member of Celtic Woman until the end of 2015.
- Lisa Kelly (Irish Laoise Ní Cheallaigh) (7 May 1977) is a singer of both classical and Celtic music. She has taken part in many musical theatre productions and concerts, and is a founding and former member of the musical group Celtic Woman.She has played several principal roles, such as “Velma Kelly” in Chicago, “Florence” in Chess, “Laurey” in Oklahoma!, “Maria” in West Side Story and “Sandy” in Grease. After deciding to take a break from her day job in the computer industry to return to theatre, she played the lead role in the Christmas pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre. This led to her being cast in the American production of Riverdance – The Show as lead female vocalist in 2000, a position she held for five years while touring. While touring with Riverdance, Lisa met Australian dancer Scott Porter, who later became her husband. During this time, Lisa also met fellow vocalist Lynn Hilary, who would later go on to become a member of Celtic Woman in 2007 as a replacement forMéav Ní Mhaolchatha. Kelly was one of the Riverdance vocalists who appeared in the 2003 Special Olympics opening ceremony when they performed ‘Cloudsong.’ This was in support of Lynn, who had the leading vocal role at the start of the song. In 2002, Lisa was asked to record a solo album with director David Downes on the Celtic Collections label. The resulting debut album, Lisa, was released in 2003. Songs featured on this CD are “Carrickfergus”, “Siúil A Rún”, “The Deer’s Cry”, “Lift the Wings”, “The Soft Goodbye”, “Home and the Heartland”, “Homecoming”, “Now We Are Free”, “Dubhdarra”, “May It Be“, and “Send Me a Song”. Lisa was again approached by Downes in 2004, and asked to be part of Celtic Woman, originally planned as a one-night event at Dublin’s Helix Theatre. The group has since released several albums and DVD performances of their concerts and embarked on several world tours. During the A New Journey tour, and again during the “Believe” 2012 tour, Lisa took a break for the birth of her children. She was replaced by Alex Sharpe who later became a full-time member of Celtic Woman when Orla Fallon left. Later, in the Believe tour, she was replaced by Susan McFadden. In 2009, Lisa Kelly sang the main title song If You Believe for the Disney movie Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure. Lisa was one of four people involved who were connected to Celtic Woman – the others being violinist/fiddler Máiréad Nesbitt, musical director and composer David Downes, and former member and vocalist Méav Ní Mhaolchatha. In December 2011, Lisa announced that she was taking a maternity leave and would not participate in the 2012 Believe Tour. She was replaced by Susan McFadden, the younger sister of Brian McFadden. At the time it was thought to be a short-term departure only; however, in January 2013 Lisa announced her departure from Celtic Woman and moved to Peachtree City, Georgia, USA, where she announced the opening of The Lisa Kelly Voice Academy, indicating a switch from performing to teaching. The new voice academy is being run in conjunction with her husband Scott Porter, the former CEO of Celtic Woman Ltd. She also starred in the concert titled The Voice of Ireland, featuring fellow Celtic Woman performer Chloë Agnew and former Celtic Thunder member Paul Byrom. On 13 December 2014, she starred in the concert titled A Celtic Christmas, featuring fellow Celtic Woman performer Chloë Agnew, former Celtic Woman choir performer Dermot Kiernan, and former Celtic Thunder member Paul Byrom, along with performances by the Kelly Porter Dance Academy.
- Lisa Lambe (1 August 1984) is an Irish singer and actress and a former member of the ensemble Celtic Woman. After Celtic Woman’s Songs From the Heart Tour, in November 2010, Lynn Hilary announced that she was leaving the group to return to Ireland. It was later announced that Lisa Lambe would join the group as part of the 2011 tour lineup. On the official Celtic Woman website, she said that she was “delighted to be joining Celtic Woman! It is a privilege to be part of this amazing show and I am looking forward to it being an incredible experience.” In early 2014, Celtic Woman announced Lisa Lambe would leave to reprise her role as Sorcha in Breaking Dad, the sequel to Between a Foxrock and a Hard Place, in which she had previously played a role and whose run at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin, Ireland, lasted from 25 April to 17 May. However, she was scheduled to return in the summer.
- Méav Ní Mhaolchatha ( mayv nee wayl-khah-hah), mononymously known as Méav, is an Irish singer, songwriter and recording artist specialising in the traditional music of her homeland. She was one of the original soloists in the musical ensemble Celtic Woman, which has sold over six million albums. Méav has a husband named Tom and two daughters named Anna and Catherine. Between 1994 and 1998 Méav was a member of the Irish chamber choir Anúna. As a choral singer and soloist, she recorded four albums with Anúna: Omnis (1995), Omnis Special Edition (1996), Deep Dead Blue (1996), and Behind the Closed Eye (1997). In 2006 a collection of her solo and choral work with Anúna, Celtic Dreams, was released on Valley Entertainment Records. She appeared as a member of Anúna in Riverdance: The Show. Méav gained musical stardom as a founding member of the group Celtic Woman in 2004. Her singing is a prominent element of Celtic Woman’s first three albums, Celtic Woman, Celtic Woman: A Christmas Celebration, and Celtic Woman: A New Journey.
- In 2005, Méav was expecting her first child and took maternity leave to await the birth of her first daughter, Anna. During tours, she was replaced by Irish singer Deirdre Shannon. In 2006, she returned to record the New Journey CD and DVD and toured extensively with the group in the US and Japan in 2006 and 2007. She has been featured in Celtic Woman: The Greatest Journey Essential Collection. In 2007, following the filming of Celtic Woman’s Christmas DVD at the Helix, Dublin, Méav left Celtic Woman to concentrate on her solo career. She performed a series of solo concerts in New England, USA. In 2009, she returned to the stage performing in her native Dublin to rave reviews. She also gave birth to her second daughter, Catherine and recorded “Where the Sunbeams Play” for the Disney film Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure. In 2010, she was a special guest of Órla Fallon’s Celtic Christmas concert in Nashville, singing “Do You Hear What I Hear?” in a duet with Fallon, her solo version of “O Holy Night” accompanied by harp and the finale song “Here We Come A-wassailing” with the rest of the cast, including American singing stars David Archuleta and Vince Gill, recorded, aired on PBS and released on CD and DVD. Méav also featured as a guest soloist on the Celtic Woman Christmas album Home for Christmas. This was the first time Méav had appeared with Celtic Woman since she left the group in 2007. Méav was also featured in the Celtic Woman PBS special, “Home for Christmas”, which was recorded on 7 August 2013. It was announced just recently that Méav would return to Celtic Woman for a month in Lynn’s place, and that Lynn would return in April.
- Deirdre Shannon is an Irish singer who has toured with a variety of Celtic music groups, such as Anúna, Celtic Thunder and Celtic Woman. Shannon began her professional career in 1996 when she was selected to be a member of the Irish choir Anúna. On 1 October 2006, Shannon released her solo album, simply entitled Deirdre Shannon. She has also been a principal singer in the group in Celtic Woman, but she was never featured in the studio DVDs. Playing the role of the Gentlewoman, Shannon also sings “Harry’s Game” as well as other songs in Celtic Thunder: Storm which was released on CD and DVD on 20 September 2011.
- Alex Sharpe (4 May 1972) is an Irish performer known for her live roles in London’s West End and on the Irish stage (both the Olympic and Gaiety Theatres). She is well known for performing with Celtic Woman from 2008 to 2010. She was a featured soloist at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 60th birthday celebration (2008) with the RTE Orchestra and she recently released a solo album titled Be Still My Soul (2014). She began her career portraying Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin. Her career in Musical Theatre continued, as she played Janet in The Rocky Horror Show, Young Sally in Follies in Concert, Jenny in Aspects of Love, and Mila in Aloha Kamano by Sean Purcell. She was asked to play Éponine in Les Misérables for the Cameron Mackintosh Company in England and Ireland and in the Concert Tour of Les Misérables. Alex created the role of Bernadette in the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Ben Elton Musical The Beautiful Game. On her return to Ireland she played the role of Kate Foley inThe Wireman in the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin. When founding member of Celtic Woman Lisa Kelly went on maternity leave, Sharpe became a temporary member of the ensemble in 2008. In 2009, Sharpe became a permanent member of Celtic Woman, in effect replacing Órla Fallon. She has toured with the ensemble on their 2009 ‘Isle of Hope’ tour, and has recorded a CD and DVD with the group, both entitled Celtic Woman: Songs from the Heart, released in January 2010. The group toured North America from February to May 2010 on their ‘Songs from the Heart’ tour. After the tour finished, Sharpe announced she would be leaving Celtic Woman to be with her family full-time. In 2014 she released a solo album titled “Be Still My Soul.” She has a twelve-year-old son, Jacob.
- Hayley Westenra (10 April 1987) is a New Zealand singer, classical crossover artist, songwriter and UNICEF Ambassador. Her first internationally released album, Pure, reached No. 1 on the UK classical charts in 2003 and has sold more than two million copies worldwide. Pure is the fastest-selling international début classical album to date, having made Westenra an international star at age 16. In August 2006, she joined the Irish group Celtic Woman, was featured on their Celtic Woman: A New Journey CD and DVD, toured with them on their 2007 Spring Tour, and was also featured on their DVD, The Greatest Journey: Essential Collection, released in 2008. Westenra recorded the end-title song for Disney‘s movie Mulan II. They also featured her in the national Radio Disney music education tour for middle-school students. On 24 August 2003, Westenra performed on the stage with opera tenor José Carreras and Bryn Terfel in front of the capacity crowd of 10,000 people from Faenol Festival in Wales. In 2004, Westenra was recorded a live DVD, Hayley Westenra: Live from New Zealand, featured duet with baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes and soprano Sophie Westenra in St. James Theatre. David Horn, the producer of her live TV special, which aired on PBS‘ Great Performances, said, “Her singing is so gorgeous, it’s reminiscent of the great boy-soprano sound of Anglican church choirs.”
Celtic Woman was taped on 15 September 2004 for PBS television at The Helix, Dublin, Ireland, in front of a sold-out audience. Organized by producer Sharon Browne, Chairman & CEO Dave Kavanagh, television producer and director Avril MacRory, and musical director and composer David Downes, this performance was first broadcast on PBS during March 2005 in the United States, and within weeks the group’s eponymous debut album, Celtic Woman, reached No. 1 on Billboard‘s World Music chart, eventually breakingAndrea Bocelli‘s long-standing record of chart-topping longevity on 22 July 2006 by having stayed at No. 1 for 68 weeks. The album held the top position on the Billboard World Music chart for 81 weeks total. Much of the group’s success in America has been credited to the extensive PBS publicity throughout 2005. The live performance at The Helix was released on DVD alongside the studio album.
The release of the second album, Celtic Woman: A Christmas Celebration, on 19 October 2006 knocked their first album to the No. 2 spot on the World Music chart.
In preparation for their third studio album, Celtic Woman performed at Slane Castle in County Meath, Ireland, on 23 and 24 August 2006, with this show airing on PBS during December 2006. The studio album, titled Celtic Woman: A New Journey, was released on 30 January 2007. As with their debut, the live performance was released on DVD simultaneously. This album immediately hit the Billboard 200 at No. 4 and the Billboard World Music chart at No. 1, moving their previous two releases down a notch and securing the top three positions on that chart for the group.
In response to the popularity of the performance at Slane Castle in 2006, PBS aired a special concert of Celtic Woman performing again in The Helix Theatre, Dublin, Ireland on 7 December 2007. This performance included songs from the group’s second album,Celtic Woman: A Christmas Celebration.
A fourth album, Celtic Woman: The Greatest Journey, was released on 28 October 2008. The group’s fifth album, Celtic Woman: Songs from the Heart, was released 26 January 2010. It peaked at No. 48 in July 2010 on the ARIA Top 50 Albums chart.
The group recently released their sixth album, Lullaby, available through PBS pledge or the QVC shopping website. On 15 February 2011, it was released by other major retailers as a limited edition album. It reached No. 1 on the World Charts and No. 3 on the Children’s Charts, a first for Celtic Woman.
The group filmed a new special on 6 and 7 September 2011 at the Fox Theater in Atlanta for PBS broadcast and DVD release. It is titled Celtic Woman: Believe. The show aired on PBS stations on 3 December 2011. The CD/DVD was released on 24 January 2012.
On 9 October 2012, the group released its second worldwide Christmas album Home for Christmas. This album features the voices of Lisa Lambe, Chloë Agnew, Meav Ni Mhaolchatha, and Mairead Nesbitt on the fiddle. Another Christmas album, Celtic Woman: Silent Night was released on the same day for the United States exclusively.
In July 2013, Celtic Woman released a promotional video on its YouTube channel for a new PBS special, due to be screened in early 2014. On 24 February 2014, Celtic Woman released a new CD/DVD set and PBS Special, called Celtic Woman: Emerald – Musical Gems. It features Lisa Lambe, Chloë Agnew, Mairead Nesbitt, and Susan McFadden. The DVD was filmed in April 2013 at a tour stop in South Bend, Indiana and was aired on PBS, starting in March.
The group filmed a new special in August 2015, called Celtic Woman: Destiny.
Celtic Woman has performed three tours in America, with additional performances overseas. The group appeared live in more than a dozen US cities in 2005 for their original album debut. The group toured the United States twice with their “Celtic Woman: A New Journey” tour, visiting 88 cities in 2007 and over 75 cities in 2008. In early April 2008 it was announced that The High Kings would be opening the act for the group through June 2008.
The 2009 Isle of Hope Tour was announced in late 2008, and features a blend of original music from composer David Downes and Brendan Graham (the author of the group favourite “You Raise Me Up“), renditions of songs such as “Fields of Gold” and “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You” and traditional performances of “Danny Boy”, “The Sky and the Dawn and the Sun” and “Spanish Lady”. This tour finished on 22 November 2009.
The 2010–11 tour called Songs from the Heart, featured some of the same music and some new music. The tour featured Chloë Agnew, Lisa Kelly, Lynn Hilary, Alex Sharpe, and Mairead Nesbitt. It began in February 2010. PBS television presented a special concert starting 28 November 2009. It was taped in HD at the Powerscourt House & Gardens in Enniskerry, County Wicklow, Ireland. It included a 27-member film orchestra, Discovery Gospel choir, 12-member Aontas Choir, 10-member Extreme Rhythm Drummers with an 11-piece bag pipe ensemble.
A second “Songs from the Heart” tour opened in February 2011 with Agnew, Kelly, new member Lisa Lambe, and Nesbitt and consisted of about 80 concerts in North America in spring 2011 and 10 performances in Germany and Austria during summer 2011.
The Symphony Tour featuring songs from their Christmas Album A Christmas Celebration took place during December 2011.
The BELIEVE 2012 North American Tour ran between February 2012 and April 2012. Following directly onto this, the BELIEVE European tour took place between May and June 2012. Lisa Kelly, who was expecting her fourth child, did not participate in the 2012 tours, and was replaced by Susan McFadden, the younger sister of former Westlife member Brian McFadden.
Another Symphony Tour was announced for the 2012 Christmas season, featuring Agnew, Lambe, Nesbitt and McFadden. The tour began on 1 December and continued on till 22 December. Celtic Woman took “Believe” on tour again from February to June 2013, with the same line-up. On 15 January 2013, Lisa Kelly announced her intentions to open “The Lisa Kelly Voice Academy”, located in Peachtree City, GA. In addition to this, Kelly confirmed that she will not be returning to Celtic Woman. Her husband, Scott Porter, also announced his departure as CEO of Celtic Woman.
Celtic Woman took “Believe” to Europe in October 2013 and visited the US on their Symphony Tour in December 2013. The Australian Tour for “Believe”, previously scheduled for September 2013, was rescheduled to January 2014. Celtic Woman toured in the US from February to June 2014 on their Emerald Tour to celebrate the heritage of the Emerald Isles and to promote their new album called Celtic Woman: Emerald Musical Gems. Lynn Hilary will be coming back for the Emerald Tour as Lisa Lambe is leaving in mid-March for a role in the play Breaking Dad, Ross O’Carroll-Kelly’s sequel to Between Foxrock and a Hard Place, in which Lisa had played Sorcha. Breaking Dad, will run from 25 April to 17 May at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin, Ireland. As well as the US, Celtic Woman visited Brazil, the UK, and Europe in Autumn 2014 on their Emerald Tour – making their debut in Brazil and the UK.
Additionally, Celtic Woman toured the US for their Symphony Tour in December 2014 and again for the Tenth Anniversary Tour in March 2015 to celebrate the group’s 10th anniversary. Also, Celtic Woman’s November 2014 European Tour, which was part of the Emerald World Tour, was rescheduled from November 2014 to February 2015, and is now part of the Tenth Anniversary Tour instead of the Emerald Tour. They will also visit Australia for the 10th Anniversary Tour in September 2015 for the first time since the Believe Tour in January 2014, and will return to the UK again in November 2015.
The original performers in Celtic Woman were Chloë Agnew, Órla Fallon, Lisa Kelly, Méav Ní Mhaolchatha, and Máiréad Nesbitt. During Méav’s pregnancy in 2005, Deirdre Shannon was selected to fill her place during tours. Méav returned to the group in time to record A New Journey and tour for that album, coinciding with Deirdre’s departure from the group in February 2006.
The second line-up change was announced on 6 September 2006, with the announcement that Hayley Westenra officially joined Celtic Woman on 24 August 2006. As well as being featured on the album and DVD for A New Journey, Hayley alternated with Méav during tour events to maintain the live five-person line-up.
On 20 August 2007, Méav left Celtic Woman to focus on her solo career. Méav’s replacement, Lynn Hilary, made her first appearance on 10 October 2007 in Estero, Florida, United States.
In December 2007, Lisa Kelly, who was expecting a new child in 2008, took maternity leave from the group. Alex Sharpe filled her position on the A New Journey tour during this leave. It was announced on the group’s website in 2009 that Órla Fallon was taking a full break to spend time with her family and to focus on recording a new solo album, and that as a result of this, Alex would be replacing Órla as a member of Celtic Woman.
For the 2009 Isle of Hope Tour, the group comprised vocalists Chloë Agnew, Lynn Hilary, Lisa Kelly, and Alex Sharpe; and fiddler Máiréad Nesbitt. This group completed the entire 2009 tour as well as the first leg of the Songs from the Heart tour, from February to May 2010, with this line-up. After the tour ended, it was announced that Alex Sharpe would take a full-time break from Celtic Woman to spend time with her family.
After the Songs from the Heart tour, in November 2010, Lynn Hilary announced that she was leaving the group to return to Ireland. Singer and actress Lisa Lambe joined the group as a replacement for Lynn in early 2011.
In December 2011, Lisa Kelly announced that she would be taking maternity leave from the group after the “Symphony Tour” was over. The group’s website announced in January 2012 that actress Susan McFadden would be filling in for Kelly until she returned to the group. However, Kelly announced the opening of “The Lisa Kelly Voice Academy” in Peachtree City, Georgia, in January 2013 indicating that she was moving on from performing to teaching. Susan has since become a full member of the line-up and will appear on the new Celtic Woman PBS special and DVD, due for release in early 2014.
In 2012, Méav Ní Mhaolchatha returned briefly to Celtic Woman to record Celtic Woman: Home for Christmas, the first time she had appeared with the group since her departure in 2007. Méav returned to the group again, albeit on a temporary basis, in August 2013 to film the Celtic Woman: Home for Christmas PBS show and DVD. At the same time, it was announced on the Celtic Woman website on 5 August 2013 that Chloë Agnew would be taking a break from Celtic Woman to work on solo projects. In addition to this, she was not featured in the PBS special and DVD for Celtic Woman: Home for Christmas. On 23 August 2013 it was announced that Derry-born singer Mairead Carlin would be taking Chloë’s place.
Shortly before the beginning of the Emerald Tour on 14 February 2014, management announced that Lisa Lambe would be leaving the tour at the beginning of March, with Lynn Hilary returning to take her place. Lambe was, however, slated to return during the summer, though no specific date was given.
It was announced late 2014 that Lisa Lambe will be leaving Celtic Woman for a while to work on a solo album.Alex Sharpe will be returning for the 10th Anniversary tour along with Méav Ní Mhaolchatha. The current lineup is Méav Ní Mhaolchatha, Lynn Hilary, Alex Sharpe, Mairead Nesbitt, Mairead Carlin, and Susan McFadden, with all but Nesbitt and McFadden serving 2 at a time on a rotating basis for the US tour ending June 2015. The lineup for the fall is McFadden, Carlin, Nesbitt and newest member Éabha McMahon.
Former Celtic Woman, Lynn Hilary, will again be returning in Lambe’s place. It was later announced that former Celtic Woman
When asked how the group members got along, member Lisa Kelly responded,
“We get along because we’re so different. Chloë Agnew is hip, Méav Ní Mhaolchatha is rational, Orla Fallon is angelic, and Mairead Nesbitt is energetic.”
According to Chloë Agnew, the friendship between the vocalists was the number one question they were asked. She explained:
“I think people are always looking for a ‘Desperate Housewives’ story, that they all hate each other and nobody actually gets along. It’s all for show. And the truth of the matter is, it’s not. The reality is we do all get along. The five of us are like sisters, best friends.”
The original Celtic Woman five performed “Song for the Mira” with multiple Grammy Award winner Anne Murray for her 2007 EMI release “Anne Murray Duets: Friends & Legends.” A “Song of the Mira” performance/interview montage appears on a DVD which was included with “Anne Murray’s Christmas Album,” released in 2008.
Awards and honours
In 2007 Celtic Woman won an EBBA Award. Each year the European Border Breakers Awards (EBBA) recognise the success of ten emerging artists or groups who reached audiences outside their own countries with their first internationally released album in the past year.