In just a few short years, the unique musical ensemble known as Celtic Woman has emerged as both a spectacular commercial success and a genuine cultural phenomenon. The beloved ensemble’s evocative, uplifting music has transcended national and cultural borders to touch the hearts of a devoted fan base that spans the globe.
Since their formation in 2004, Celtic Woman's CD and DVD releases have been enthusiastically embraced by a large and ever-increasing audience, and their concert tours have become major events, while a series of Celtic Woman concert specials on the U.S. Public Television have been consistent ratings successes including their most recent TV special Songs From The Heart: Live at Powercourt House & Garden being Emmy nominated for Outstanding Musical Direction. The group has sold over six million albums worldwide, with their most recent CD, Songs from the Heart, debuted at #9 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and at #1 on the Billboard World Music chart. Meanwhile, the companion live concert DVD, also titled Songs from the Heart, reached #1 on the Billboard Top Music DVD chart.
Celtic Woman's unprecedented success is all the more remarkable in that it has been achieved without such traditional promotional avenues as radio and video airplay. Despite this lack of conventional exposure, the group's inspiring music has struck a responsive chord with listeners around the world. Their success has been particularly impressive in the United States, where they have toured no less than twelve times (each tour leg consisting of approximately 45 dates), selling more than 1.2 million concert tickets, and where their music has demonstrated a broad appeal to audiences from a wide array of demographic and cultural backgrounds.
Celtic Woman's far-reaching accessibility has been a key component of the act’s appeal from the start. The group is the product of the vision of David Downes, who had previously been musical director of the pioneering Irish-themed stage show Riverdance. Downes envisioned a creative entity that would combine the elemental appeal of traditional Irish music with modern production and staging.
Named Celtic Woman in order to represent the essence of a Celtic female performer, the group is comprised of vivacious, sublimely gifted young Irish women. The lineup of performers has rotated since the group began, but the signature sound of Celtic Woman has never changed.
Celtic Woman was first created for what was initially intended to be a one-time-only performance, a sold-out September 2004 Dublin concert that was taped for broadcast as a PBS TV special. In America, the concert special (which would also become the first Celtic Woman DVD release) made its Public Television debut in March 2005, winning raves from critics and viewers alike. Within a few weeks, Celtic Woman's self-titled debut album had reached the #1 spot on Billboard's World Music chart, eventually setting a record by staying at the top of that chart for an unprecedented 81 weeks. It remained at #1 on the World Music chart until the release of Celtic Woman's second album, 2006's A Christmas Celebration, which pushed its predecessor to the #2 spot. The group's third album, 2007's A New Journey, was accompanied by another live Public Television concert special and live DVD shot at Ireland's Slane Castle and achieved similar success. The Greatest Journey and its companion DVD followed in 2008.
Celtic Woman's 2010 CD/DVD release Songs from the Heart has been acclaimed as the group’s most accomplished effort to date, once again capturing Downes' expansive musical vision while showcasing the individual and collaborative talents of each performer. Utilizing both electric and acoustic instruments, as well as a choir and orchestra, the material encompasses haunting renditions of the classic Celtic folk tunes "Nil Sé'n Lá, “Galway Bay" and "My Lagan Love," along with the American gospel standard "Amazing Grace," as well as inspired interpretations of such modern pop classics as Sting's "Fields of Gold," Phil Collins' "You'll Be In My Heart," Billy Joel's "Goodnight My Angel" and Jimmy Webb's "The Moon's A Harsh Mistress." Elsewhere on the album, the group's affinity for classical material is reflected on a brilliant reworking of Dvorák's "Non C'é Più."
The Songs from the Heart CD was released simultaneously with a companion DVD, capturing a powerful Celtic Woman concert performance in the Irish country setting of the Powerscourt House and Gardens. That performance finds Celtic Woman accompanied by an electric band, an orchestra, a gospel choir, a ten-person drumming ensemble and an 11-man bagpipe group.
Celtic Woman's riveting musical fusion comes to vibrant life in their elaborately staged, visually stunning state-of-the-art live concerts. The group's rapturously received concert tours have taken them to stages throughout the United States, the British Isles, Europe, Asia and Australia. Celtic Woman's ability to bridge musical and cultural boundaries has been further demonstrated by their recent appearance on ABC-TV's Dancing With The Stars, where they sang for 23 million viewers, and their performance at the National Christmas Tree Lighting in Washington D.C., where they joined such entertainers as Sheryl Crow, Common, Jordin Sparks and Ray LaMontagne.
The current line-up of Celtic Woman performers features the celestial vocals of Susan McFadden, Chloë Agnew and Lisa Lambe and the dynamic inventiveness of Celtic Violinist Máiréad Nesbitt.