Celtic Woman travel all over the world, but Durham holds a special place in their hearts

Celtic Woman bring their Homecoming Tour to the Durham Performing Arts Center to perform tracks from "Homecoming: Live From Ireland."
Celtic Woman bring their Homecoming Tour to the Durham Performing Arts Center to perform tracks from "Homecoming: Live From Ireland." Courtesy of Celtic Woman

Celtic Woman is on the road for eight months of the year. The popular act’s four vocalists experience a myriad of exotic locales. Even though Mairead Carlin has travelled throughout much of the world, the Derry native insists that Durham is her favorite city to visit.

“I love Durham,” Carlin says while calling from Jacksonville, Fla. “It’s such an arty place. I love the yoga studio there and the vegan restaurants.”

Durham is such a special place for Carlin that her husband was supposed to propose to her somewhere in town. “It’s a long story but he asked me to marry him in Charlotte,” Carlin reveals. “It’s because he called my dad from Charlotte and asked him for my hand. My parents called to congratulate me and that prompted him to ask me there. But my husband was supposed to propose in Durham. I love that area.”

Celtic Woman will return to Durham Sunday to showcase tracks from their latest DVD "Homecoming: Live From Ireland" at the Durham Performing Arts Center.

“It was magical performing and recording at home,” Carlin said. “It was very emotional. It was a special night because it’s Ireland. It takes us back to where it all started for all of us. It’s amazing how much music has come out of such a small place. We’re from this tiny island, which has given the music world U2, Sinead O’Connor, the Chieftains and so many other great recording artists.”

The latter’s leader Paddy Maloney recently gushed when speaking about Celtic Woman. “I love their voices,” Maloney says. “There is nobody else like Celtic Woman. They should be so proud since they’re so successful.”

The group, which has sold out Radio City Music Hall on 13 occasions, has a devoted following. Celtic Woman have sold more than 9 million albums and 3 million concert tickets.

Celtic Woman’s blend of Celtic, New Age and adult contemporary music is just part of the reason for their success. Gorgeous harmonies sung by the women, impeccably clad in ornate designer gowns, is a huge reason for the unwavering support.

But it all starts with the music for Celtic Woman, which also includes Susan McFaddon, Eabha McMahon and Tara McNeill. Each of their albums is filled with dramatic, baroque songs, which range from the traditional (“Ave Maria,” “Isle of Innisfree”) to classics (“Danny Boy,” “Over the Rainbow") to modern favorites (Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Sting’s “Fields of Gold”).

“We do things our own way,” Carlin says. “We don’t follow any formula. For us, it’s all about the honesty and integrity. All of my favorite artists have that.”

The biggest influence Carlin ever had was the unpredictable Sinead O’Connor. “Talk about honesty and integrity,” Carlin says. “If there was ever one vocalist that gets to the core, it’s Sinead. She sings with such raw emotion, and I try to do the same. I just adore her. I’m not sure anyone would put us in the same sentence but Sinead and I just put it all out there, and so do the other members of Celtic Woman. We do what we want.”

Fortunately for Celtic Woman, the band has a fan base, which supports the act. “We know how lucky we are,” Carlin says. “Without this group of fans, we wouldn’t be able to tour like we do and I would have no idea how wonderful a city like Durham is.”


Who: Celtic Woman

When: 3 p.m. March 18

Where: Durham Performing Arts Center, 123 Vivian St., Durham

Cost: $43 and up

Info: 919-680-2787 or dpacnc.com