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New Celtic Woman Show All About "Hope"

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Friday, February 20, 2009

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The cast and crew of Celtic Woman think they picked a good time to call a tour “Isle of Hope.”

“I think everybody now is looking to a more hopeful future,” says violinist Máiréad Nesbitt, referring to the election of President Barack Obama. “And in a way it kind of takes it full circle — that people have come to America since, gosh, the 1600s to make their lives and reach their full potentials, and they were very hopeful. It’s a place that’s so really, hugely important to people, all over the world.

“And now we’re at a time when I think people are feeling hopeful again, optimistic. It’s a nice name for a show. It seems to fit the times.”

Of course, Celtic Woman has every reason to be optimistic about whatever it does.

Since debuting five years ago, the company — Nesbitt, four featured singers and 14 other dancers and musicians guided by musical director David Downes — has taken the mantle from Riverdance as the top Celticthemed act and, in fact, one of the top

World Music acts now on the road. It’s sold more than 4 million copies of its albums and DVDs; the latest release, “The Greatest Journey: Essential Collection,” debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s World Music chart, where Celtic Woman titles have spent 95 consecutive weeks. The troupe has played to more than 800,000 fans in the U.S. alone, and its three PBS specials have aired nearly 13,700 times.

“I think what we do is very accessible to people,” Nesbitt says. “The music ... is highly credible. The different gamut of emotions to our music does ring true with people. So while it’s done to a very high standard, it’s not over people’s heads, either.

“I just think everybody gets the best of everything. They’re getting a very high-end show, visually and musically and costumes and everything, but they can get involved in all the emotions we put into the music, too. It’s hard to get all that in one show these days.”

Nesbitt and company tried to put even more of all that into the “Isle of Hope” show, however. The group has buffeted its repertoire of favorites such as “The Sky and the Dawn and the Sun,” “Spanish Lady” and “Danny Boy” with a rash of new additions, including renditions of Sting’s “Fields of Gold,” Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately” and Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.” There are also new compositions — a Nesbitt showcase called “The Coast of Galicia,” and “Oh America,” written especially for the show by Brendan Graham.

“It’s really a tribute to America,” Nesbitt explains. “It’s a modern song. It pays homage to America and everybody from all over the world who comes to America to make their lives and live the dream. It’s a beautiful song, very powerful.”

As for the covers, Nesbitt notes, “Basically with the girls singing and myself on violin, we put our own stamp on everything, our own sound, that Celtic thread running through the whole show.”

“Isle of Hope” also will yield a new album and PBS special, which will also come out on DVD. “We’re not exactly sure when or where we’re going to do it,” Nesbitt says, “but we know it’s going to happen. We put a lot of work into making these shows ... special, so it’s important to us that they be shared as widely as possible.”

Celtic Woman performs at 8 p.m. Friday (Feb. 20) at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $34-66. Call (313) 471-6611, visit www.olympiaentertainment.com or www.celticwoman.com

Web Site: www.olympiaentertainment.com

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