By Morgan Bongard & A.C. Kruse-Ross
Five time World Artists of the Year, the Irish musical ensemble, Celtic Woman, is making a stop at Green Bay’s Weidner Center on March 15, 2014. We at SCENE were fortunate enough to speak with vocalist Lisa Lambe at her home in Dublin, Ireland to discuss the tour, her career and the new album/dvd, “Emerald: Musical Gems.”
Scene: To start, the new album for Celtic Woman was released on February 25,2014. Can you tell us if there is anything you did differently in the approach that you took with this new dvd than you did with previous ones?
Lisa Lambe: It’s a very special album for us. It’s called “Emerald: Musical Gems,” and with Celtic Woman almost 10 years old, it basically captures us in a live performance, and it’s absolutely fantastic. This album is a celebration of what that is. There are some wonderful song favorites like “Danny Boy,” and “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” some beautiful and wonderful songs that people know and love. It defines what Celtic Woman really is. Our tour, Emerald: Musical Gems, starts in Nashville, and I’ve already packed my suitcase for that. Personally, it’s a place that I really love. But it’s been a part Celtic Woman’s journey, all the way, and it’s such an inspiring city.
On top of that, we are touring 75 cities with all new costumes, a new design set, a bagpiper, and Irish dancers. We also have some surprises for the audience as well.
Scene: That’s a long, busy schedule for you. Is that something you’ve grown accustomed to?
LL: Absolutely! When you do something that you are passionate about, it really can take a toll. Celtic Woman has become part of a tapestry for 10 years now. We are glad to be part of the show, it’s absolutely amazing to see, and it’s amazing to see the personal journey that I’ve had over the years. We have a rock ‘n’ roll schedule, but we don’t have a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle!
Scene: You’ve worked with David Downes (“Riverdance”), the Irish composer and pianist, correct?
LL: Yes, we actually worked together after I was cast in 2000 as the lead female vocalist in “Riverdance.” It really was a case of being in the right place at the right time, and I believed then that I’d only last a couple of months (laughing). We worked on traditional Irish pieces a capella, along with beautiful a. I was very fortunate and transformed by working with him and it was wonderful to make that connection with David back then. We have remained friends over the years, and we’ve watched the star of Celtic Woman rise, and become brighter and brighter over the last 10 years.
Scene: Being a part of Celtic Woman, has that brought you out of your comfort zone?
LL: I came from an acting background, musical theatre, actually. I was wearing wigs and costumes, and looking very different. Being a part of Celtic Woman, without all the costuming, presents a more honest version of who we are. Performing in that capacity was very, very different than what I was accustomed to.
Scene: Celtic Woman to date, has eight CDs out, and seven DVDs. There’s obviously a very visual quality to the performances. Would you say that these visual shows are equally important as the music is?
LL: Yes! One hundred percent of the show is visual, but it is a feast for the ears as well. When you see a show you realize that there are so many elements to the performances. Of course, the music is central to the show, but the lighting is incredible, the set design is absolutely beautiful and amazing. There are Irish instruments and designs, and of course, the musicians are very much involved. The music does inspire a lot of visuals.
Scene: The Celtic Woman phenomenon has been huge and you’ve traveled all over the world. Are you as well received in Europe, closer to your home, Ireland, than you are in North America?
LL: America is the second home of Celtic Woman. We were all very curious to see if the music would translate as well in America. It’s been wonderful to see the reaction in Europe and of course, Australia, which we’ve just returned from. It’s so powerful, no matter where we go, the response is strong and the reaction from our audiences is powerful, and we’re received very warmly. We’ve received standing ovations, and it’s always an overwhelming reward to receive.
Scene: In your own words, what do you believe that Celtic Woman has done to make the group such a successful production?
LL: There’ s many, many ingredients that have made us a success, and that success gives us longevity. At the core of all that, is the music itself. The music has a very honest truth to it. It comes from a very honest place and it has a very specific blend. Our musical director has managed to capture that through his arrangements and composing, even though many of our songs have been sung from generation to generation and are very, very old. They are presented as though being told for the very first time. Being a performer, we all represent a different aspect of what it means to be a Celtic Woman. Every one on stage is Irish, young and old as well, and the audience picks up on that.
Scene: So during a show, you’ve got something for everyone in the program, yes?
LL: Definitely. We’ll see grandparents with their grandchildren, people of all ages and of all backgrounds, celebrating. We’ve even had people celebrate their 90th birthday with us. We are very lucky that we don’t have a specific age group in our audience. People even get engaged at our shows! It’s amazing for us to have been part of these memorable moments with the audience over the years.
Scene: I know we’re running out of time, and you’ve got a very busy schedule. Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
LL: I’d like to thank you for taking time to talk with us, and we’re so glad to bring our show to Green Bay! We very excited to get back to America. My suitcase is already packed!
Scene: Make sure you dress warmly!
LL: (laughing) Will do!
More about Celtic Woman’s new album & DVD
Global music sensation Celtic Woman returns to North America in 2014 with its newest show, The Emerald Tour, in support of the simultaneous new album and DVD releases, both titled “Emerald: Musical Gems.” The all-female ensemble kicks off the tour on February 14th in Nashville with performances lined up in 75 cities thru mid-June. For complete tour schedule and ticket information, visit www.CelticWoman.com
Celtic Woman’s elaborate new show spotlights reimagined performances of fan favorites from the group’s treasure chest of Celtic songs. A celebration of the Emerald Isles’ rich musical heritage, The Emerald Tour features songs from the “Emerald: Musical Gems” CD/DVD, including the uplifting “Mo Ghile Mear” and “Dulaman,” the enchanting “She Moves Thru the Fair” and “Caladonia” and the ever-haunting “Danny Boy” and “The Voice.” Also featured are new interpretations of the beloved “Amazing Grace” and “You Raise Me Up.”
During The Emerald Tour, Celtic Woman’s angelic voices and violin virtuosity will be joined by world class musicians, the Aontas Choir, bagpipers and championship Irish dancers, all under the direction of Emmy®-nominated music producer David Downes, former music director for Irish stage show Riverdance.
“Creating the new show allowed me the opportunity to revisit and re-imagine some of our most popular Irish songs, as well as writing some exciting new material for the show,” said Downes. “With all-new performances of these great songs—Emerald has created a whole new experience for both our longstanding fans, and for those who have just discovered our music. This is a Celtic Woman experience that will soothe the soul and have you dancing in the aisles!”
Celtic Woman’s new studio album “Emerald: Musical Gems” and companion DVD, “Emerald: Musical Gems” – Live in Concert will be available in stores February 25 through Manhattan Records. The DVD was filmed in South Bend, Indiana and showcases the group’s sparkling pure voices, bewitching choreography and fairytale charms. It will begin airing in March on Public Television as part of the spring pledge drive.
Since its inception in 2004, Celtic Woman has emerged as both a spectacular commercial success and a genuine cultural phenomenon. The group’s uplifting mix of timeless tradition and contemporary craft has transcended national and cultural borders to touch the hearts of a loyal international fan base, who’ve embraced Celtic Woman’s hugely successful public television specials.
Their eight CDs and seven DVDs are multi-platinum best-sellers, making Celtic Woman the only all-female group to achieve multi-platinum success in the classical crossover/world music genres over the past decade. Recently named Billboard Magazine’s #1 World Albums Artist of the Year for the fifth time, the multitalented ensemble has sold more than eight million copies of its releases, all of which have debuted at #1 on Billboard’s World Music chart. The group, whose line up has changed through the years, has performed for three U.S. Presidents and made high-profile appearances on Dancing with the Stars and the daytime drama The Bold and the Beautiful. As a live act, Celtic Woman continues to sell out concert halls around the world, having performed for nearly three million fans. ν