Celtic Woman was “only supposed to be one night,” according to fiddle player Mairead Nesbitt. But it’s lasted six years and released five CD/DVD projects — the latest of which, “Songs From the Heart,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard World Music charts in February.
“We didn’t anticipate any of this,” says Nesbitt, who’s been with Celtic Woman since its start. “It really has snowballed and become a huge phenomenon, so we’re just all really grateful.”
Celtic Woman, which has sold more than 5 million albums worldwide, is the brainchild of former “Riverdance” music director David Downes. But while he conceives and arranges the repertoire, Nesbitt says she and the troupe’s four vocalists have active roles in determining their own parts, which makes it a genuine creative collaboration.
“David basically does all the music, more or less, but we have a fair amount of input,” she explains. “Each of the five girls have their own style, so being a soloist you should be able to go into the studio and make a piece your own.
“So there’s room for that. You get the bones of something, a melody or a tune, and you do your own interpretation on it. And David has worked with us all before as solo artists, so he’s aware of what we do and that’s very important as well.”
A new album of course, also means “a fresh, new show” for Celtic Woman — and balancing that material with what have become tried-and-true favorites from its four predecessors. So while the group is enjoying the chance to perform its renditions of Sting’s “Fields of Gold” and the spiritual “Amazing Grace,” as well as a new arrangement of Enya’s “Orinoco Flow,” Nesbitt promises that it hasn’t abandoned the older material in its stead.
“We didn’t want to isolate those or get rid of them, either,” she says. “We have a good hankering for what to keep in. We know what people really, really like and we kept those in, so they won’t be disappointed. It’s not like you’ll go to a Celtic Woman show and not hear anything you know, but we think the new stuff is pretty great, too, so hopefully people will enjoy that as well.”
Celtic Woman performs at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 7, at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $34, $54 and $68. Call 313-471-6606 or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.
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