When listing pop sensations, there’s a group of vibrant, talented young ladies who don’t immediately come to mind.
They should, however. Since their 2004 inception, Celtic Woman — a quintet of Spice Girls-esque singers delivering hearty world/classical/show tunes as per the conceptual vision of musical producer/director David Downes — have some pretty impressive numbers.
The Irish mavens currently featuring vocalists Chloë Agnew, Lynn Hilary, Lisa Kelly, Alex Sharpe and fiddler Máiréad Nesbitt are celebrating a fifth studio album dubbed Songs From The Heart and total worldwide sales of more than 50 million albums, a feat even most international pop stars struggle to achieve. Contemplating their success, Agnew and Sharpe are shocked at such great fortune.
“The concept of this wasn’t intended to reach this status or last this long. I didn’t even think we’d have one album, let alone five,” laughs Sharpe. “It’s phenomenal to be a part of such an amazing production. I had to pinch myself to realize that we just did this.”
Rather obvious, the collective’s name eliminates any query as to their calling: Celtic music injected with flourishes of classical and folk influences delivered in grandiose fashion. At that, Songs From The Heart’s 14 tracks blend traditional favourites with cover tunes and selections written specifically for each performer’s particular voice, creating an even warmer, softer atmosphere for their typically-casual style.
“(The album) is a little more laid-back and subtle but with a name like Songs From The Heart, that’s what you’re going for,” Sharpe notes. “It’s a collaborative effort of songs we adore and those that David suggests. He, after all, hears our voices most of all so he knows us better than we do.”
To that extent, Agnew adds that while far from lax, the group asserts that a nonchalant approach to their success is crucial. Refusing to become another collection of disrespectful prima donnas or lose their lot entirely, being laid-back helps them stay down-to-earth while dealing with becoming world-renowned in a few short years.
“We live in the moment because you don’t know what lies ahead. We try to treasure every moment. We were virtually unknown and almost overnight we’re a success. Before you know it, it’ll be in the past and you’ll want all of those moments back.”
So with the humility and wisdom to enjoy their fortune coupled with a refusal to expect anything beyond the now, Agnew and Sharpe essentially admit that Celtic Woman is a group of Celt femmes not necessarily practising but at least following the essence of Zen Buddhism?
“Well, the music is spiritual and uplifting. It crosses boundaries and unites people. This music appeals to a wide range of people in age, background and personal taste and we’re eternally grateful,” Agnew laughs. “Maybe we are.”