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, Downes 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 group. Downes chose a repertoire that ranged from traditional Celtic tunes to modern songs.
Celtic Woman performs at Macquarie Shopping Centre, Sydney, in August 2012.
From left to right, Lisa Lambe, Susan McFadden, Chloe Agnew, and Mairead Nesbitt.
|Past members||Chloë Agnew|
Méav Ní Mhaolchatha
The show was meant to be a one-time event held in Dublin, Ireland, but multiple airings on PBS helped boost the group's popularity.
The group's line-up has changed over the years. Eleven 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, Celtic Woman: Destiny, Celtic Woman: Voices of Angels, and Celtic Woman: Ancient Land. 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 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, Celtic Woman The Show. This was followed by all five members' solo albums recorded between 2000 and 2004 being released in the US on 10 January 2006.
The group toured the United States twice with their 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 tour began on 14 February 2007 in Tampa with initial dates announced through 29 June 2007. New dates for Europe running 22 September 22 to 9 October 2007 were announced in May 2007 along with fall North American dates running 10 October to 17 November 2007 and some Japan dates. The tour finished on 6 October 2008 in Amsterdam.
The 2009 Isle of Hope 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.
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, and confirmed that she would 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 came back for the Emerald Tour as Lisa Lambe left 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, ran 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.
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. Their November 2014 Emerald European Tour was rescheduled to February 2015 and became part of the Tenth Anniversary Tour instead.
They visited Australia for the 10th Anniversary Tour in September 2015 for the first time since January 2014, and returned to the UK in November 2015.[needs update]
The Destiny world tour was from 4 March – 29 October 2016.
The Voices of Angels was from 2 March – 25 June 2017.
On 31 July 2018, the group announced The Best of Christmas tour, which ran from 26 November – 22 December 2018.
- Celtic Woman (2004)
- Celtic Woman The Show (2005-2006)
- Celtic Woman: A Christmas Celebration (2006)
- Celtic Woman: A New Journey (2006-2008)
- Celtic Woman: Isle of Hope (2009)
- Celtic Woman: Songs from the Heart (2009-2011)
- Celtic Woman: The Symphony Tour (Christmas 2011-2014)
- Celtic Woman: Believe (2012-2014)
- Celtic Woman: Home for Christmas (2012)
- Celtic Woman: Emerald - Musical Gems (2013-2014)
- Celtic Woman: 10th Anniversary (2014-2015)
- Celtic Woman: Destiny (2016)
- Celtic Woman: Voices of Angels (2017)
- Celtic Woman: Homecoming - Live from Ireland(2018)
- Celtic Woman: Ancient Land (2018-2019)
Celtic Woman was taped on 15 September 2004 for PBS television at The Helix in Dublin 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. 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. 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.
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. For the album, PBS television presented a special concert starting 28 November 2009. It was taped in HD at Powerscourt House and Gardens in Enniskerry, County Wicklow. It included a 27-member film orchestra, Discovery Gospel choir, 12-member Aontas Choir, 10-member Extreme Rhythm Drummers with an 11-piece bagpipe ensemble.
The group 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, Georgia 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.
In August 2015, the group filmed a DVD / TV special and recorded an accompanying album called Celtic Woman: Destiny, the first for Mairead Carlin and Éabha McMahon. Nesbitt was the only founding member on the album, although Meav Ni Mhaolchatha appeared and sang as a guest. Destiny was nominated for Best World Music Album at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards. This was the first Grammy nomination for the group.
In August 2016, the group recorded an album called Celtic Woman: Voices of Angels. The album was the first to feature Tara McNeill and was also the first album to feature none of the founding members, although Meav Ni Mhaolchatha again appeared as a guest.
Celtic Woman recorded a live album, Celtic Woman: Homecoming - Live from Ireland, at the 3Arena in Dublin on 2 September 2017. The album released in January 2018. It was the first album released by the group to consist entirely of live tracks.
On 19 July 2018, Celtic Woman announced a new TV special and DVD, to be recorded on 13–14 September 2018 at Johnstown Castle in Wexford, Ireland. This will be the group's first outdoor TV special in nine years. The following day, the group announced a studio album to accompany the DVD. The DVD and album was named Ancient Land.
- Máiréad Carlin Derry. From August 2013, she replaced Chloë Agnew, who would be working on solo projects. Máiréad Carlin is a singer from
- Éabha McMahon Celtic Woman: Destiny in 2015. Eabha was born in Dublin. She debuted with Celtic Woman in the album and DVD / TV special
- Tara McNeill Antrim. She replaced Máiréad Nesbitt in the group's South Africa, South Korea and China Destiny tour shows in 2016. Her debut album with Celtic Woman was Celtic Woman: Voices of Angels (2016). Tara McNeill is from
- Megan WalshTrim and Navan. Walsh debuted with the group in the new studio album and TV special / DVD "Ancient Land" recorded in Fall 2018. Celtic Woman's newest member, replacing Susan McFadden. She was raised in
- Chloë Agnew The Helix in Dublin in 2004 as its youngest member. On 5 August 2013, the Celtic Woman website announced that Agnew would be taking a break to focus on solo projects. Her position was filled by Derry-born singer Máiréad Carlin. Chloë Agnew is an Irish singer. She appeared as part of the group at
- Órla Fallon David Downes and became one of the founding members of the group. Fallon has performed the harp as well as singing. She 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, and the A New Journey tours. In 2009, Fallon announced that she would be leaving the group to spend time with her family, and was replaced by Alex Sharpe. Órla Fallon is an Irish soloist and singer-songwriter. In 2004, she was invited by composer
- Lynn Hilary Méav Ní Mhaolchatha decided to leave the group to focus on her solo career. Hilary joined the group as Ní Mhaolchatha's replacement in time for the Fall A New Journey tour, which started on 10 October 2007 in Estero, FL. She was the first new member to join the group since its inception in 2004. She left Celtic Woman in November 2010 to continue performing in Ireland. On 14 February 2014, it was announced that Lynn would be returning for their Emerald tour in March while Lisa Lambe took a short 'leave of absence.' Lynn left the show after the 10th Anniversary tour. Lynn Hilary is an Irish singer, guitarist, and songwriter. In 2007, original member
- Lisa Kelly  During the A New Journey tour, Kelly took a break for the birth of her children and was replaced by Alex Sharpe In December 2011, Lisa announced that she would be taking another maternity leave and would not participate in the 2012 Believe Tour. She was replaced by Susan McFadden. In January 2013 Lisa announced her departure 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. Lisa Kelly is a singer of both classical and Celtic music. She was a founding member of the group.
- Lisa Lambe Irish singer and actress. After the Songs From the Heart Tour, in November 2010, Lynn Hilary announced she was leaving the group to return to Ireland. Celtic Woman later announced that Lambe would join the group as part of the spring 2011 tour lineup. Lambe 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." Lambe left the group in late 2014 to continue her solo career. Lisa Lambe is an
- Susan McFadden singer. She was named as a replacement for Lisa Kelly, who was then going on maternity leave. She 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. She became a full-time member after Lisa Kelly announced her departure in January 2013. Susan announced her maternity leave on 12 August 2018. Susan Mcfadden is an Irish actress and
- Méav Ní Mhaolchatha traditional music of her homeland. She gained musical stardom as a founding member of the group 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 and was replaced by 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, she left the group to concentrate on her solo career. She appeared with Celtic Woman again when she featured as a guest soloist on their Christmas album Home for Christmas. Méav was also featured in the Celtic Woman PBS special, "Home for Christmas", which was recorded on 7 August 2013. Before the recording of Destiny, she became Celtic Woman's vocal director. Méav Ní Mhaolchatha is an Irish singer, songwriter and recording artist specialising in the
- Máiréad Nesbitt classical and Celtic music performer, most notably as a violinist. In 2004, she was invited to play for a performance at the Helix Theatre in Dublin, called "Celtic Woman." She is featured on nine of the group's 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, and Destiny. On 7 August 2016, it was announced that Nesbitt would be stepping away to focus on her own projects. Máiréad Nesbitt is an Irish
- Deirdre Shannon Celtic music groups, such as Anúna, and Celtic Thunder. She has also been a principal singer in the group, but was never featured in the studio DVDs. She joined the group as a stand-in during the first Celtic Woman tour in 2005 after Méav's first child was born. Deirdre Shannon is an Irish singer who has also toured with other
- Alex Sharpe Lisa Kelly went on maternity leave, Sharpe became a temporary member in 2008. In 2009, Sharpe became a permanent member, in effect replacing Órla Fallon. She has toured with the group on their 2009 Isle of Hope tour, and recorded the CD and DVD for 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 to be with her family full-time. Alex Sharpe is an Irish performer known for her musical roles. When founding member
- Hayley Westenra New Zealand singer, classical crossover artist, songwriter and UNICEF Ambassador. She joined in August 2006 and was featured on Celtic Woman: A New Journey CD and DVD, toured on their 2007 Spring Tour, and was also featured on their DVD, The Greatest Journey: Essential Collection, released in 2008. After the Spring Tour ended, Hayley left to return to her solo career. Hayley Westenra is a
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.
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 say that she was moving on from performing to teaching. Susan has since become a full member of the line-up and appeared on the new Celtic Woman PBS special and DVD Emerald, released 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. She announced that she would return to the group again, temporary, in August 2013 to film the Celtic Woman: Home for Christmas PBS show and DVD.
Shortly before the "Home for Christmas" DVD show, Chloë Agnew announced she would be taking a break from Celtic Woman to work on solo projects and was not featured in the PBS special. 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 slated to return during the summer, though no specific date was given.
In late 2014, Lambe shared she would be leaving Celtic Woman for a while to work on a solo album. She announced that her departure was permanent in early 2015 to promote her solo album and tour. Lynn again returned and took Lambe's place. It was later announced both Hilary and Alex Sharpe would be returning for the 10th Anniversary tour along with Méav.
On 7 August 2016, it was announced that long-time member Máiréad Nesbitt was stepping away from Celtic Woman to focus on her own projects. Tara McNeill, a violinist, harpist, and singer, was announced as a new member of Celtic Woman.
From 11–23 March 2018, McFadden took a leave from the Celtic Woman: Homecoming tour to attend to a family emergency. Sharpe temporarily took McFadden's place in the lineup. McFadden returned to the tour on 24 March 2018 and remained with the group until the end of the tour.
On 12 August 2018, it was announced that McFadden, expecting her first child, was taking leave from the group.
When asked how the group members got along, founding former member Lisa Kelly responded,
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."
|Title||Date of release||Media format||Region||Chart peaks|
|Celtic Woman||1 March 2005||CD & DVD||International||USA: #53 |
|A Christmas Celebration||3 October 2006||CD & DVD||International||USA: #35 |
|A New Journey||30 January 2007||CD & DVD||International||USA: #4 |
|A Celtic Family Christmas||14 October 2008||CD||US||USA: #89 |
|The Greatest Journey||28 October 2008||CD & DVD||International||USA: #75 |
|Songs from the Heart||26 January 2010||CD & DVD||International||UK: #122 |
USA: #9 
|Lullaby||15 February 2011||CD||International||USA: #126 |
|Believe (compilation)||25 May 2011||CD||Japan|
|An Irish Journey||3 October 2011||CD||EU|
|A Celtic Christmas||25 November 2011||CD||EU|
|Believe||24 January 2012||CD & DVD||International (except Japan)||USA: #13 |
|Home for Christmas||9 October 2012||CD, DVD & Blu-ray||International||USA: #43 |
|Silent Night||9 October 2012||CD||US|
|Emerald – Musical Gems||24 February 2014||CD, DVD & Blu-ray||International||USA: #29 |
|O Christmas Tree||21 October 2014||CD||US|
|Destiny||23 October 2015||CD, DVD & Blu-ray||DE, International||USA: #60 |
|Voices of Angels||18 November 2016||CD||International||USA #77|
|The Best of Christmas||24 November 2017||CD||International|
|Homecoming – Live from Ireland||25 November 2017 (PBS), 26 January 2018 (General)||CD, DVD,||International|
|Ancient Land||28 September 2018 (digital album), 26 October 2018 (CD)||CD, DVD||International|
Awards and honoursEdit
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. Celtic Woman: Destiny received a nomination for the 59th (2017) Grammy Awards in the "Best World Music Album" category.
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