It’s the 10th anniversary of Celtic Woman, and this year’s U.S. trek is tailored to fit the occasion.
The group’s current members are vocalists Susan McFadden, Lisa Lambe and Máiréad Carlin and violinist Máiréad Nesbitt.
“We are trying to definitely this year make an effort to put in the songs that people ask for,” McFadden said. “There are songs like ‘Caledonia’ and ‘Isle of Hope’ and ‘Danny Boy,’ and all the songs that people always ask for. We put them back in for this show. It’s special, it’s the last 10 years and we’re also looking back.”
Three former Celtic Woman vocalists will rotate into Lambe’s spot in the group as guests for different stretches of the 10th anniversary tour. Lambe this year released her debut solo album.
Original vocalist Maev Ni Mhaolchatha performed with the group from the beginning of the U.S. tour in March until April 8, at which point Lynn Hilary took over the guest slot. Alex Sharpe – who was with the group from 2008 to 2010 – steps in for Hilary as the tour heads for the Sacramento’s Community Center Theater.
“It will keep things fresh. It will keep it interesting,” McFadden said of touring with the three guest vocalists. “And celebrating the last 10 years, it’s nice to revisit voices over the last 10 years, too.”
In all, 11 singers have graced the stage and recording studio with Celtic Woman. Violinist Nesbitt has been with the group since its beginning.
Originally, Celtic Woman was created for a one-off television special filmed in Ireland. Instead, PBS picked up the film of that performance, and it became a popular fundraising program in spring and summer 2005. This helped paved the way for the release of the show as a concert DVD that sold more than a million copies. Meanwhile the group’s self-titled first studio album topped Billboard magazine’s world music chart for a record-setting 81 weeks.
By then it was clear that the founders of Celtic Woman, musical director David Downes (and producer Sharon Bowne, who is no longer affiliated with Celtic Woman), had hit on a winning musical formula by mixing traditional Irish songs, a little light classical, a few tunes from musicals and movies (such as “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”) and pop standards. The repertoire has included Bobby Darin’s “By the Sea,” Josh Groban’s hit “You Raise Me Up” and Enya’s “Orinoco Flow.”
Over the next nine years came a steady flow of popular studio albums and concert DVDs – often paired together and released simultaneously, such as the 2007 studio CD, “A New Journey,” and a concert DVD, “A New Journey: Live at Slane Castle, Ireland,” and 2012’s “Believe” studio album and concert DVD.
For McFadden, a 32-year-old native of Dublin, Ireland, joining Celtic Woman in 2012 was a chance to return home.
“I had been living in the UK, in London, and performing in UK-based shows and musicals,” she said. “(Celtic Woman) was an opportunity to kind of go on the road with Irish people and sing Irish music, which is where we’ve all come from. It’s what we all grew up with.
“It’s such a small country,” she continued, “that it’s incredible to see how our music has spread all over the world and how it means so much to so many people.”
Celtic Woman 10th anniversary tour
- When: 3 p.m. Sunday
- Where: Sacramento Community Center Theater, 1301 L St., Sacramento
- Cost: $43-$63
- Information: (916) 808-5181; celticwoman.com