Celtic Woman are among a new wave of groups who’ve brought traditional Irish music into the 21st century – complete with lavish orchestral arrangements and spectacular live shows.
They’re an all female Irish group that was formed in 2004. They have sold millions of albums worldwide and have been described as ‘Riverdance for the voice’.
The original line up of the group included fiddle player Máiréad Nesbitt and four vocalists, Lisa Kelly, Órla Fallon, Méav Ní Mhaolchatha and Chloë Agnew.
They were put together by Sharon Browne and David Downes, who was a former musical director of the Riverdance stage show. They wanted to create a female group that would be comfortable and credible performing a mixture of contemporary and traditional songs.
Record breaking debut album
Their first album was called simply, Celtic Woman. It was released in 2005 and came with a DVD of a live performance in front of a sold out audience at the Helix, Dublin. The performance was broadcast on PBS in the United States and the album went on to reach the top spot on the Billboard World Music Charts where it stayed for a record breaking 68 weeks.
They went on tour in America and performed in several US cities to promote the album.
The debut album eventually spent a total of 81 weeks at No. 1 of the Billboard World Music Chart. There was only one group capable of shifting it from the top spot permanently – themselves.
It was Celtic Woman’s second album that eventually knocked their debut off the top spot. Celtic Woman: A Christmas Celebration was released in late 2006 and reached No 1 in the Billboard World Music Charts.
A New Journey
Their third album, Celtic Woman: A New Journey, was released just a few months later, in January 2007. Like the debut album it featured a DVD of a live performance. This time the performance was at Slane Castle in Co. Meath. Again the live performance was broadcast on PBS before the album was released which helped the album not only reach the top of Billboard World Music Charts but also No. 4 in the Billboard 200.
They went on a huge tour of the States to promote the album in 2007-8. They performed hundreds of concerts and were supported by the High Kings for their shows in 2008.
When Celtic Woman: A New Journey reached No 1 in the Billboard World Music Charts, all three of Celtic Woman’s albums occupied the top three spots!