Celtic Woman

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Celtic Woman
Celtic Woman performs at Macquarie Shopping Centre, Sydney.jpg
Celtic Woman performs at Macquarie Shopping Centre, Sydney, in August 2012
Background information
GenresCeltic, folk, new-age, adult contemporary, classical
Years active2004–present
MembersMáiréad Carlin
Lynn Hilary
Susan McFadden
Máiréad Nesbitt
Past membersChloë Agnew
Órla Fallon
Lisa Kelly
Lisa Lambe
Méav Ní Mhaolchatha
Deirdre Shannon
Alex Sharpe
Hayley Westenra
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Celtic Woman
Celtic Woman performs at Macquarie Shopping Centre, Sydney.jpg
Celtic Woman performs at Macquarie Shopping Centre, Sydney, in August 2012
Background information
GenresCeltic, folk, new-age, adult contemporary, classical
Years active2004–present
MembersMáiréad Carlin
Lynn Hilary
Susan McFadden
Máiréad Nesbitt
Past membersChloë Agnew
Órla Fallon
Lisa Kelly
Lisa Lambe
Méav Ní Mhaolchatha
Deirdre Shannon
Alex Sharpe
Hayley Westenra

Celtic Woman is an all-female Irish musical ensemble conceived and created by Sharon Browne[1][2] and David Downes, a former musical director of the Irish stage show Riverdance.[3][4] 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 line-up of the group that he named Celtic Woman. 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.[5] Eight 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 and Celtic Woman: Home for Christmas. The group has undertaken a number of world tours. Cumulatively, albums by Celtic Woman have sold over 6 million records worldwide.[6]

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."[7]


Creator and Producer, Sharon Browne[edit]

Musical Director, David Downes[edit]

Current members[edit]

The current members of Celtic Woman are (in alphabetical order of family name):

Past members[edit]

The past members of Celtic Woman are (in alphabetical order of family name):

Decca has also promoted Westenra on television. She took her first acting role on the US programme American Dreams ("Charade"), where she played guitar and sang "Who Painted the Moon Black?".[41] While she was being promoted in Los Angeles, Marc Johnston, senior VP/GM for the Universal Classics Group, said, "When she was out there, people were giving her scripts to read, and she had a few rather impromptu auditions. So some film and TV roles are currently in the works."[42] In 2005, she was featured in the song "Bridal Ballad" recorded for the movie The Merchant of Venice.[43] In 2006, she was featured on the motion picture soundtrack for The New World with the song "Listen to the Wind".

Westenra was the 2004 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards winner of "Highest Selling New Zealand Album" and "International Achievement Award".[44] On 20 February 2004, Prime Minister Helen Clark awarded her for being the first New Zealand artist to receive the tenfold platinum status in the New Zealand market, where she held the number one artist position for 18 weeks.[45] She has won two Japanese Grammies for her work (Song of the Year, "Amazing Grace" and Album of the Year, Pure). Her version of Amazing Grace was used as the theme song for the popular Japanese drama, Shiroi Kyoto (The White Tower). Hayley met the cast of the series during a promotional tour of Japan in October 2003.

Also in 2004, she began her world tour of New Zealand, Australia, Japan, USA and Britain, performing in a concert in November for Her Majesty The Queen, the Prime Minister Tony Blair, The Prince of Wales, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and the President at the time George W. Bush.[46] In her autobiography, she remembered feeling more nervous in an audition where she sight read to Andrew Lloyd Webber an unreleased piece that he had written.[35][47] On 28 July 2004, Westenra and American tenor James Doing staged Wisconsin concert with Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and broadcast by Wisconsin Public Television.[48] She concluded 2004 with a Christmas tour of the East Coast of the United States as guest soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra.[49]

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."[42][50][51]

Westenra in 2010 Christmas Wishes concert tour (UK)

In 2005, she released a new album, Odyssey. A mix of classical, pop, Celtic, and new-age music, she co-wrote and arranged some of the tracks on the album, which was released in the United States on 18 October 2005. A more recent version of Odyssey containing several recordings not on the original album was released in the United Kingdom on 10 April 2006, her 19th birthday. On 18 December 2005, she made an appearance on Kurt Browning's programme Gotta Skate, in which she performed with Andrea Bocelli.[52]

Westenra spent the first half of 2006 performing as a supporting act for the pop-opera quartet Il Divo on a worldwide tour, though in March she performed solo concerts in the US as well. That tour officially ended in June, but was then extended by six performances. She then held several concerts in the UK and Germany through the end of the northern summer.[53] On 5 September 2006, Westenra was named as one of the ten outstanding young people in the world by the Junior Chamber International, becoming the first New Zealander so honoured.[54]

On 13 November 2006 she participated in the dedication of the New Zealand War Memorial in London.[55] Three of Westenra's great-uncles served in World War II; one was killed.[56]

After releasing Pure, Westenra and her family moved to London. She continues to reside in a central London flat, even though her family subsequently returned home to Christchurch. Although she spent most of 2006 touring, she did visit them when her schedule allowed.[57]

In August 2006, Westenra joined Celtic Woman[58] and is featured on their second major DVD/CD album, Celtic Woman: A New Journey, which was released 30 January 2007 and immediately hit the Billboard Top 200 music chart at #4.[59] She toured with the group in the United States in 2007, with scheduled appearances in 88 venues across the country; the tour ended in June.[60][61] During this time, Hayley alternated with Méav Ní Mhaolchatha, who had recently returned from maternity leave, to maintain a five-member line-up. She also got along well with another member, Chloë Agnew, who was at the time only 17 years old.[62][63] Westenra married her French boyfriend of three years, Arnaud Sabard, on 29 December 2013 in North Canterbury, New Zealand.[64][65][66]


Celtic Woman was taped on 15 September 2004 for PBS television at The Helix, Dublin, Ireland, in front of a sold-out audience. Organised 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 breaking Andrea Bocelli's long-standing record of chart-topping longevity on 22 July 2006 by having stayed at No. 1 for 68 weeks.[67] The album held the top position on the Billboard World Music chart for 81 weeks total.[68] 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.[68]

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[69] and the Billboard World Music chart at No. 1,[70] 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 in 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.[71]

The group recently released their sixth album, Lullaby, available through PBS pledge or the QVC shopping website.[72] 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.[73]

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.[74]


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.[75] 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.[76]

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.[77][78] 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.[79]

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[80] and 10 performances in Germany and Austria during summer 2011.[81]

The Symphony Tour featuring songs from their Christmas Album A Christmas Celebration took place during December 2011.[82]

The BELIEVE 2012 North American Tour ran between February 2012 and April 2012.[83] Following directly onto this, the BELIEVE European tour took place between May and June 2012.[84] Lisa Kelly, who was expecting her fourth child, did not participate in the 2012 tours,[85] and was replaced by Susan McFadden,[86] 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.[87] 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.

In addition to this, Celtic Woman will be going to 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 2013, 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.[58] 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.[88]

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.[89][90]

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.[91] 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.[5]

After the Songs from the Heart tour, in November 2010, Lynn Hilary announced that she was leaving the group to return to Ireland.[92] 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.[93]

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. Former Celtic Woman, Lynn Hilary, will again be returning in Lambe's place.

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."[94]

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."[95]


TitleDate of releaseMedia formatRegionChart peaks
Celtic Woman1 March 2005CD & DVDInternationalUSA: #35
Celtic Woman: A Christmas Celebration3 October 2006CD & DVDInternational
Celtic Woman: A New Journey30 January 2007CD & DVDInternationalUSA: #4
Celtic Woman: A Celtic Family Christmas[96]14 October 2008CDUS
Celtic Woman: The Greatest Journey28 October 2008CD & DVDInternational
Celtic Woman: Songs from the Heart26 January 2010CD & DVDInternationalUK: #122[97]

USA: #9

Celtic Woman: Lullaby15 February 2011CDInternationalUSA: #126
Celtic Woman: Believe (Compilation)25 May 2011CD & DVDJapan
Celtic Woman: An Irish Journey[98]3 October 2011CDEU
Celtic Woman: A Celtic Christmas[99]25 November 2011CDEU
Celtic Woman: Believe[100]24 January 2012CD & DVDInternational (except Japan)
Celtic Woman: Home for Christmas9 October 2012CD, DVD & Blu-rayInternational
Celtic Woman: Silent Night[101]9 October 2012CDUS
Celtic Woman: Emerald - Musical Gems[102]24 February 2014CD, DVD & Blu-rayInternational
Celtic Woman: O Christmas Tree21 October 2014CDUS

Awards and honours[edit]

In 2007 Celtic Woman won an EBBA Award.[103] 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.

See also[edit]


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  96. ^ http://www.amazon.com/Celtic-Family-Christmas-Woman/dp/B001KMIZ22/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1322058611&sr=8-1
  97. ^ http://www.zobbel.de/cluk/110618cluk.txt
  98. ^ http://www.amazon.fr/Irish-Journey-Celtic-Women/dp/B005EVV5RM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1321980379&sr=8-1
  99. ^ http://www.amazon.de/Celtic-Christmas-Woman/dp/B005WNF5UU/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1321980480&sr=8-13
  100. ^ http://music.barnesandnoble.com/Believe/Celtic-Woman/e/5099995543123?itm=1&usri=celtic+woman+believe
  101. ^ http://www.christianbook.com/celtic-woman/silent-night/5099901559521/pd/cd59951
  102. ^ https://secure.wttw.com/catalog/detail?productid=PEMERLC
  103. ^ EBBA Awards

External links[edit]

Official sites

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Previous members