The energy of Celtic Woman’s Mairead Nesbitt

Feb. 13, 2014 @ 11:05 AM

For 10 years, Celtic Woman has pleased audiences with a wide range of traditional Irish, popular and original music sung by women and accompanied by energetic fiddler Mairead Nesbitt. While other Celtic women have come and gone over the years, Nesbitt remains the only founding member. She is joined now by Lisa Lambe, Susan McFadden and Mairead Carlin. Lambe joined Celtic Woman in 2011, followed by McFadden in 2012 and then Carlin, who replaced Chloe Agnew this past fall.

This week Celtic Woman arrived in Nashville, Tenn., to prepare for the launch of their Emerald Tour, in support of their new CD and DVD coming out later this month, “Emerald: Musical Gems.” It features new performances of fan favorites like “Amazing Grace,” “Danny Boy,” “Mo Ghile Mear” and “She Moves Through the Fair.”
“I know all the songs, or most of them, anyway,” Nesbitt said in a phone interview this week from Nashville, where rehearsals have begun. The Emerald tour comes to the Durham Performing Arts Center on March 8 for two performances. If you’re looking for last minute Valentine’s Day gift ideas, there are still tickets available for the afternoon and evening shows.
On stage, the singers in Celtic Woman usually wear fancy, coordinated long ball gowns, with Nesbitt in a more spritely dress that allows her to move around on stage. Some have described it as dancing, but Nesbitt said her movement as she plays just comes naturally.
“With a long tour – four or five months – you have to mind yourself,” she said. Before each tour she thinks she might spend time working out, but doesn’t. “I look after myself. I eat well, nice food. I grew up in a country area.” Nesbitt is from Loughmore in County Tipperary, Ireland. Her entire family is composed of musicians. She began playing the violin at age 6.
The Emerald Tour features a lot of very new elements in the show compared to previous tours, she said.
“We’re excited to bring to audiences new treatments, angles, elements – it’s going to be interesting and dynamic,” Nesbitt said. “I’m also working on my own solos with the band. We each have two solos, and I have a big jamming session with the band. That’s a new thing.”
This tour they’ll be ramping it up a bit, she said, with new numbers, percussion and bagpipes.
Celtic Woman tours annually, so when she has time off, Nesbitt tries to go home to Ireland as much as she can to see her family. They’re all very, very busy, she said, and are teachers and musicians themselves. Still, they are extremely close as a family, Nesbitt said, and they have come to see her perform. She hopes Celtic Woman will tour more in Europe, too.
Before joining Celtic Woman, Nesbitt was a violinist with the RTE Concert Orchestra and has played on soundtracks and tours of Riverdance, Lord of the Dance and Feet of Flames. She released a solo CD in 2006 called “Raining Up.” She was also featured on the score of two Disney movies, “Tinker Bell” and “Tinker Bell: The Lost Treasure.”
“That was absolutely fantastic; a dream come true,” Nesbitt said of the “Tinker Bell” recordings. “I had the most amazing time. It was intense and busy, 36 tracks in a day and a half.” She said she is so glad she was a part of it.
Her favorite performances include famous venues – in the U.S., Red Rocks in Colorado.
“There are so many beautiful places in America, and of course the audience is most important. I get the energy from them and give it back to them,” she said.
“I do relax with my husband and family, but music is never very far away,” Nesbitt said. “I play every day. I cook a lot … I love meeting up with people and playing music with people and having the social thing. It’s such a special occasion,” she said.


WHO: Celtic Woman
WHEN: 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. March 8
WHERE: Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St., Durham

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