CELTIC Woman has just released The Greatest Journey: Essential Collection on CD and DVD, capping the dizzying pathway to success that began in 2005.
In that timeframe, they have enjoyed sales of more than three million CDs/DVDs sold in the U.S., Billboard Top 200 chart success (number one on the Billboard World Music Chart for over 90 consecutive weeks) three hit PBS TV specials, and concerts in front of over 800,000 fans in the U.S. alone.
In short order, Lisa, Mav, Chlo, rla, Lynn and Alex and the inspired fiddle playing of Mirad have charmed the States, and the love affair will be continued as Celtic Woman will once again be featured on PBS during the network's December 2008 pledge drive campaign.
The new TV special will be a collection of memorable highlights taken from their past PBS specials: Celtic Woman: Live, A New Journey: Live at Slane Castle and A Christmas Celebration. The companion DVD in Greatest Journey will include a very special intimate behind-the-scenes documentary.
The new offering features four new songs ("The Call," "Pie Jesu," "Ave Maria," "You Raise Me Up," backed with a gospel choir) and two previously unavailable songs on CD, "Somewhere" from the Live at Slane Castle DVD, and "Shenandoah" from the deluxe CD of A New Journey.
In addition to the greatest hits CD, the Celtic Woman franchise will provide a stocking stuffer this Christmas for shoppers. A Celtic Family Christmas will feature songs like "Carol of the Bells" and "The First Noel" sung by the lasses. Their corporate cousins, the High Kings, join the holiday festivities with their read of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town."
Onstage, singer Lisa Kelly is immaculately made up and adorned in the finest ball gowns. Reality sets in when the crowds are gone, and Kelly is no exception.
When we spoke on the phone, she was holding down the fort in her Dublin home by trying to pacify an unknown number of screaming toddlers in the background. Here's how our conversation went:
How do you juggle being a mother and performing?
It has worked out well so far. They have been with me every step of the way and actually are on their best behavior when they're on the road. They run amok at home. They are brilliant on a plane.
Because they have been on tour so much they are very sociable kids. They love being in the States. The kids have already told me that they want to live in America when they grow up.
Are any of the other girls mothers?
No. I'm the mom of the group, the bossiest, so it works out well (laughs).
This production is almost like a Broadway show with little in the way of deviation. Does that get old after a while?
A touring show is different every night. Clich, I love what I do. The easiest part of my day is 2.5 hours. You perform to a wonderful audience and that keeps things fresh for you.
Celtic Woman came at a time of my life when I was winding down. I had no interest in touring and being part of another show. David Downes (the producer) is a friend of mine who asked me to play one show at the Helix - one show, PBS, and it's done. I wasn't thinking straight at the time when I said yes, because I was quite happy being content at home and having domestic bliss.
I really got the buzz again once I got onstage and it was fun being up there with these amazing talents. Then I got caught up in it.
What was the biggest surprise for you with this show?
Going over to the States and promoting it, and then seeing the speed in which things caught on for us. I still can't believe it. Within the space of the week, we had a number one on the charts and a huge tour was booked to capitalize on it.
Yet the efforts that you do go to promote the Celtic Woman brand instead of Lisa.
Even though it is a brand, it's still me up there. I am quite happy to be looked after as part of this ensemble, and I get to do what I love to do. Again, this overnight success was a complete surprise and a huge thrill. To go from that week of New York meet and greets to going straight on tour.
We only just got to Europe to tour this last year, mainly because we can't get out of the States. The way we've been embraced by the audience has been unbelievable, and now we are going to try to do it on this side of the Atlantic.
The Celtic Woman franchise just broke out to include men. What do you think of High Kings?
They're doing their own Irish tour and they are going strong. The Irish audiences embrace it probably more than us to be honest, because it's so traditional.
It's so great that Celtic Woman and High Kings are bringing a focus back to Irish culture, even though it is two distinct shows that appeal to different audiences. It's like Riverdance. I was so not into Irish dancing. It wasn't a cool thing. I remember flying over to Riverdance and got my mind blown away by it.
You are clearly glitzier than the High Kings.
That's the point. When you go to the likes of America you have to have the big production values. There's no way we are walking around with our ball gowns on the streets of Ireland; it's a costume that adds to the evening. If I go to Wicked, I want to see a production and want to be entertained.
Have you seen Celtic Thunder? I know that's a competing show.
I haven't seen it because I have been off the road for a bit with my seven month old. I actually haven't seen High Kings live either because I didn't play Radio City the last time around.
I think all of these shows are great. It's a huge market with room for everyone. Enya, High Kings, Celtic Woman, whatever.
What's next for Celtic Woman?
You have to keep things fresh. We are putting together Isle of Hope now, which is a brand new show that we'll take on the road next year. We will record a new album closer to the summer.