Celtic Woman triumphs through old-fashioned means
They've never had a radio hit. Never been a YouTube phenomenon.
Yet in six years, Celtic Woman has sold more than 6 million CDs and DVDs worldwide and performed for more than 1.2 million people.
The success of the Irish all-female ensemble can be attributed to two things: PBS and word-of-mouth from its live shows.
Earlier this month, the now-quartet of Lisa Kelly, Chloe Agnew, Celtic violinist Mairead Nesbitt and newest member Lisa Lambe embarked on a three-month, 70-city tour that will bring them to Austin in May.
Since its inception, the group, which refers to itself in the singular tense because the members feel each of them represents the quintessential Celtic Woman, has experienced a handful of lineup changes.
But the core trio of Kelly, Nesbitt and Agnew, recruited with two additional members in 2004 by David Downes, former musical director of "Riverdance," continues to churn out albums full of layered vocals, coating traditional Irish songs and contemporary covers.
On Feb. 15, Celtic Woman released "Lullaby," a collection of past favorites (Billy Joel's "Goodnight My Angel") and newly recorded classics ("When You Wish Upon a Star").
Agnew, the baby of the women at 21, said it would be "lovely" to soon record an all-new album now that Lambe is aboard, but first, there is a tour to be tackled.
Agnew checked in before a recent show to discuss the group's new live production.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: How are you adjusting to Lisa (Lambe) joining Celtic Woman?
Chloe Agnew: She's just, just incredible. I'm lucky enough to have known her since I was a kid. We were in a couple of shows together growing up and I absolutely idolized her, so I knew when she was coming in (to Celtic Woman) that she was amazing. We've only been on the road two weeks, but it feels like she's been here forever.
What does she bring to the group?
Apart from looking more Irish than the whole lot of us combined, she has a very unique tone of voice, a bit more folky. We've never had that kind of sound before and it's quite distinctive. Even though she's performing songs that the (former members) sang, she's put her own stamp on the show.
If people saw you on tour two years ago, what would be a reason for them to go this time?
Even since the beginning of the tour two weeks ago, the show has changed. It's literally a different show every night. We have very loyal fans who follow us from city to city, and they'll always say the show is different.
Now, with the lineup change, that's brought new life to the show. People will notice the change in me, the performer I've become now, growing on- and off-stage.
How do you stay sane being away from home for so long?
This is actually a short tour for us. We're usually out for five or six months, so we're used to it. It's difficult, I won't lie, but once you get into to a routine, it comes very naturally to you.
Those two hours onstage are the best two of the day. It doesn't matter what kind of day you had. When you see a little girl in the second row beaming, you forget everything, and that's what makes our job a little easier.