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Celtic Woman Forgin New Tradition

Of the Oakland Press

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The Irish are known to revere their heritage. But the members of Celtic Woman prefer to ignore predecessors such as “Riverdance” and “Lord of the Dance.”

“They were all-dance shows. We purposely have a vocal show and an instrumental show that’s very different,” explains fi ddle player Mairead Nesbitt, one of the five featured performers in the Celtic Woman ensemble.

“The fact that it’s fi ve women getting up there and singing and playing, I don’t think it has been done before. A lot of people like that as well, and we’re just having a great time.”

Celtic Woman does have its roots in those other productions, however. The show is the brainchild of David Downes, who also was the musical director for the U.S. touring company of “Riverdance.”

Downes, along with Nesbitt and singer-harpist Orla Fallon, composed some original material for the show and fleshed out the repertoire with Celtic favorites such as “Danny Boy,” Enya’s “Orinoco Flow,” the Clannad hit “Harry’s Game” and a rendition of “Ave Maria.”

“The music is very melodic,” says Nesbitt, a “Lord of the Dance” veteran who’s also played with Van Morrison, Sinead O’Connor and Clannad.” “I think people around the world tend to latch on. There’s some lovely tunes and some happy tunes, some very sad tunes — a lot of emotions in the music. I think people really identify with that.”

The concept that it’s a woman’s expression should not be given short shrift, either, she says.

“Basically, we just wanted to convey a spiritual type of message that applies to a Celtic woman or, indeed, any woman,” Nesbitt explains. “The show goes through different highs and lows, happy and sad, plaintive melodies. It brings across the whole concept of Celtic Woman as a general term.”

It’s a prodigious effort, to be sure. The project has already yielded a “Celtic Woman” album as well as a concert special that’s been shown on PBS and released on DVD. The album has topped Billboard magazine’s World Music chart and reached No. 53 on the Billboard 200 chart.

But wait ... there’s more. A “Celtic Woman Christmas Album” is due out in October, and the group is working on “Celtic Woman 2,” with recording slated in August for a 2007 release.

“We see this as quite a longtime endeavor,” Nesbitt says. “Ireland is a small country, but there’s a lot of music there, and we’ve only explored a small portion of it so far.”

Celtic Woman performs at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday (July 12th) at DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road north of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $49.50 pavilion, $10 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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