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Celtic Woman Brings Hope To Boise

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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2009 2:04 am    Post subject: Celtic Woman Brings Hope To Boise Reply with quote

Celtic Woman: From left to right Lisa Kelly, Chloë Agnew, Alex Sharpe, Máiréad Nesbitt, and Lynn Hilary

The quintet were supposed to be a one-hit wonder, but their popularity soared

As singer Alex Sharpe sees it, the timing for the Celtic Woman's "Isle Of Hope" tour this spring couldn't be much better.

The show, which Sharpe said relates to the United States and its history as a land of opportunity and optimism for immigrants (especially from Ireland), took on new meaning that couldn't have been anticipated when the show was conceived.

"Now with a new president in office in America, I think a lot of people there are very inspired and full of hope," she said in a recent phone interview. "I think the theme of the tour as well almost goes in harmony with the hope that America has with a new president, and it just touches on that with the show, with the hope that the Irish had coming to America, the hope for a better life. I think it kind of is very appropriate."

The "Isle Of Hope" tour represents a major next step in building on the stunning success Celtic Woman has had over the past five-plus years.

Not only will the group release a new studio CD called "Isle Of Hope," plans also call for the recording of a concert DVD sometime during the course of the tour and possibly a PBS special.

Those kind of projects have always been big components in the success of Celtic Woman.

Originally, Celtic Woman was created for a onetime television special filmed in Ireland, and musical director David Downes and producer Sharon Bowne essentially recruited the four singers - Orla Fallon, Chloe Agnew, Lisa Kelly and Meav Ni Mhaolchatha, along with fiddle player Mairead Nesbitt - to perform that single concert.

That show went on to become a popular fundraising program for PBS in spring and summer 2005 and helped pave the way for a concert DVD that sold more than a million copies. Meanwhile the group's self-titled first studio album topped "Billboard" magazine's world music chart for a record-setting 68 consecutive weeks.

Solo albums by each of the Celtic women arrived in 2006, and in the fall of that year a holiday CD, "A Christmas Celebration," was released and immediately topped the world music album chart.

For 2007, audiences got another spate of Celtic Woman releases. There was a second studio CD, "A New Journey," and a concert DVD, "A New Journey: Live at Slane Castle, Ireland." The CD "A New Journey," in particular, was another blockbuster. It ended 2008 as the top-selling CD on "Billboard" magazine's world music chart.

Last year, the group took a look back with a best-of CD and DVD, both titled "The Greatest Journey: Essential Collection."

Celtic Woman's huge success has continued despite several personnel changes. Both Fallon and Ni Mhaolchatha have left the production, with Sharpe and Lynne Hilary filling those slots. In addition, New Zealand singer Haley Westenra - a star in her own right - also sang with the group during 2007.

Sharpe, who came on board in spring 2008, is the newest addition, and she adds a bit of a theatrical singing style to Celtic Woman.

A native of Dublin, her big break came in 1998, when musical producer Cameron MackIntosh cast her in a production at Dublin's Point Theatre of "Les Miserables."

Next came a chance to sing on the soundtrack to the movie "Evita" (starring Madonna), followed by perhaps her most prestigious stage role, when Andrew Lloyd Weber and Ben Elton cast her in the London production of their musical, "The Beautiful Game."

Sharpe was ready for a change when Downes called looking for a singer to fill in for Kelly, who was expecting a child and unable to do the summer 2007 tour.

"I had kind of stepped back a bit from musical theater myself because I have a son," she said. "I had moved back (to Ireland) from London when I had him. É I was doing a lot of concert work here and I was doing some musical work here, but it really came at a good time for me.

"As it turns out, Orla retired this year, so now I'm on board full time," Sharpe said. "Like they say, timing is everything."

With this spring's tour, Sharpe and her fellow Celtic women arrive in the states with a whole new production.

"There will be some of the old favorites in it music-wise, ones that fans really love, like 'Orinoco Flow,' 'Snow,' 'Sky & The Dawn,' 'Spanish Lady,'" she said. "Then we've got a broad new spectrum of new songs. There are some new songs written by Brendan Graham and David Downes. Brendan wrote 'You Raise Me Up.' So we've got about three new songs in there from Brendan, which I'm sure the fans will absolutely love.

"Then there are a lot of the solos, we've all got new solos," she said. "And we've got a whole new stage setup as well. It's a much bigger production."

The Idaho Statesman
Boise, Idaho
Published: 05/08/09
Always Remember All Things Are Possible With God !!
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