Celtic Woman’s Éabha McMahon talks about the group’s new album Voices Of Angels and tour.


Éabha joined Celtic Woman in July 2015. She replaced Lisa Lambe in the ensemble and was delighted to begin her new journey and she is proud to be representing her Irish roots with Celtic Woman. She is a fluent Irish speaker and was brought up singing and speaking Irish at home in Dublin. She is delighted to begin this new journey and she is very proud to be representing her Irish roots with Celtic Woman.

The first ever Celtic Woman performance was recorded in 2004 for PBS television at The Helix, Dublin, Ireland, in front of a sold-out audience. It was broadcast on PBS in March 2005 in the United States which was to be a one-night only performance. Within weeks, their eponymous debut album, Celtic Woman, reached No. 1 on Billboard’s World Music chart & held the top position for 81 weeks, selling over 1 million copies.

The spirit of Celtic Woman captivated audiences and this led to another PBS Special, recorded at Slane Castle in Co. Meath in Ireland, which took their stage show to new levels.
The group has since featured in numerous PBS specials and has released 12 albums to date. Though the group has gone through different lineup changes over the years they are still one hardest working musical acts.

She took time from her busy schedule to talk to Ignite Music Magazine by phone with 

Interview by Craig Newman-

CW Voices of Angels

Éabha: Nice to meet you. How are you?

IMM: Doing well. Nice to meet you finally too and how are you doing?

Éabha: Doing well and here at the hotel getting packed after two days off so it was nice break

IMM: Thanks for your time to tell us briefly about the new album and tour?

Éabha: Lovely. The new album ‘Voices Of Angels’ is what we are touring on at the moment. It was an absolute pleasure and honor because it probably the most classical style albums the Celtic Woman has ever done and actually recorded with a 73 piece orchestra, the orchestra of Ireland that has never been done before so there was a lot of first for this album. What is so amazing about this is they took some of the older fan favorites and Celtic Woman classics and put brand new arraignments to them. Our musical director and arraigner Gavin Murphy created these incredible arraignments for the orchestra and was a real treat, able to be involved within a massive scale and I come from a traditional singing Irish background. So for me it was something I never dreamed I would be able to be part of like a classical project because I have done mostly traditional training. What I think is so amazing about Celtic Woman is that they are able to fuse these different genres together and nobody really doing that either. So a classical orchestra with a traditional singer and for example Susan McFadden is a musical theater and she has done a lot of the west end and she got to put her twist on some of the classical arraignments. And Mairead Carlin is our resident classical singer and is incredible and she was able to show off her style she is comfortable with. So there is a mix of genres with the classical elements of the ‘Voices Of Angels’ album was one of my favorite things to do with Celtic Woman.

IMM: A couple of things that stood out on the new album. First that David Downes was not associated with this and did not arraign any of the music and Gavin Murphy took the lead. By default, David is the arraigner

Éabha: When I joined a year and a half ago and actually Gavin joined at the same time and he actually arraigned the Destiny album and this is his second album with Celtic Woman. So when I came into the group David Downes was not the musical director anymore. But what I think the great thing about Celtic Woman is that is an amazing platform for performers all over Ireland, for musicians all over Ireland and for musical arraigners and directors. The great thing about that is you never have to feel like, you know that people come and go; the women have changed throughout the years because of family and life. The same with David Downes who has gone on with other amazing projects and I have no doubt in the next few years he will have something magical in store for everybody. And now Gavin Murphy is the new musical director and he just did so brilliantly when he joined on his first album the ‘Destiny’ album with Celtic Woman and get nominated for his Grammy. What a great way to start off with the company and we are very lucky to have him and his arraignments really excite me and make me really fulfilled as a musician and I fill really lucky to work with him.

CelticWoman_evbnrIMM: I agree, that with this album and the ‘Destiny’ you can hear more classical arraignments than the previous albums

Éabha: That was my first album ‘(Destiny)’ recorded with Celtic Woman so for me that was a whirlwind. Within the first week of joining the group were like doing an album this year and started recording in July and was my very first thing, I did with them. It was just a whirlwind and amazing to be involved with that and still to this day will be one of my favorite albums because I can hear so much, there is so much; it is so raw, it’s out there like it’s world music and why I think it was nominated for a Grammy in the World Music category. I think Gavin took risks with this and is a completely different sound for Celtic Woman and it paid off and I think that album is incredible and of my top album ever (Laughter)

IMM: And on this new album I saw that Méav Ní Mhaolchatha (original member) was a vocal director. How could she direct your vocals?

Éabha: Yeah (Laughter) Oh, she can massively direct them. She is brilliant. She was in Celtic Woman for years and has the feel for what Celtic Woman has been for the last twelve years. It is incredible to have another set of ears listening, giving opinions and steering you in the right direction and she has real taste for all different styles of music and just classical. She has been involved in different styles so she can help each of us because we are so different vocally. I think its amazing having Méav on board and I don’t know what we do without her. She is brilliant

IMM: Now jumping from the album lets jump to the shows (Laughter)

Éabha: Were touring Voice Of Angels and there are fan favorites in this show such as “Danny Boy” and “Amazing Grace” and songs when people come the show they associate with Celtic Woman so we didn’t leave them out and brand new arraignments as well. So really exciting and feel it every night with the audience and they are excited they are hearing the songs they know so well with new arraignments and hearing new stuff from the ‘Voices Of Angels’. So there is something for everybody on this tour. And also there is dancing, a amazing bag piper Anthony Byrne who has performed “Amazing Grace” for many years, he is absolutely brilliant. So whatever you are into musically the new Celtic Woman tour has something for everybody.

IMM: For this tour, the percussionist and the other members have their own solos type of entertainment?

Éabha: Definitely, there is a percussionist section that is incredible that get one the biggest receptions of the night. It is absolutely incredible and explosive and you can’t help it to be on your feet dancing, clapping and singing. That is the percussion section but there are dancers and another section called ‘cash in’ where all the musicians come together and play like a trad session playing trad music (traditional music in an Irish pub). I think it is amazing that Celtic Woman can promote and give life to Irish music because if it not used or not heard that unfortunately will die out. So it’s a great thing that Celtic Woman is able to put Irish music on the world’s stage and for the reasons, I am proud to be part of it. I grew up speaking Irish and is one part of the show that gets a huge reception is the ‘cash in’ where all the musicians just play trad music that people haven’t heard before or heard a little bit of it and want to know more and defiantly this year’s show. Even though ‘Voice Of Angels’ album is classically based there is definitely a place for traditional Irish music for this year’s tour

IMM: Are you and the singers able to go into the audience depending on the venue?

Éabha: We don’t go into the audience but there is more interaction where we speak to the audience and it didn’t happen as much before. And we would know where we stand with them and chatting away and not a scripted this year which I think is great and is a lot more natural and makes the audience feel as they are on the same page as us. For me it is a very natural show and we don’t actually go down into the audience. To be honest, the venues don’t facilitate us so we do stage on and chat away and interact with them which is great.

IMM: For those who been the shows or for the first time, what would be the changes excluding where they do the trad music?

Éabha: Every year the tour is different and has something new to offer. I think the one great thing Celtic Woman has to offer is the sound and the integrity of the whole show dose the same and is why it has been able to keep going for twelve years because there is something that the people can relate to year after year. But I do think the new arraignments are definitely very different so I think anybody coming to the show can expect a different style of arraignments. For me, it has been going brilliantly I think is for the best. And is one of the best shows I have ever seen and can’t believe I am part of it (Laughter). And I would have gone to a lot of shows before. I think this year’s show has something for everybody. It is visually very beautiful, sonically very beautiful and also it doesn’t matter if you heard Irish music or you haven’t or you either you like classical music or you don’t will leave that show having some connections with us because it does touch people and it’s a very uplifting show. So I think it has something for everybody. And if you have seen the show before it is definitely worth coming because we have new things in store.

IMMA: You mention dancers for this show? Is there more than one dancer for this tour?

Éabha: They do, yep. There are two amazing dancers. There are four in the choir and two incredible dancers: Carl and Allen, they are amazing Irish dancers. And we are very lucky to have them on board.

IMMA: There are plans to record another show for DVD?

Éabha: Yeah. We hope to do one this summer and they are still in talks if we can make it feasible regarding time and touring. We are so busy and is really hard and when you have a month to be at home because we do tour so many months of the year. There is the talk of a new DVD to be recorded during August but we still don’t know yet. I can’t confirm that (Laughter) because there are still talks about that. I hope so because the current show and line up and this album is very striking and I hope we get to do that. For people watching at home will get a sense of Celtic Woman now so I hope we do fingers crossed (Laughter).

IMM: Great and thanks for your time again

Éabha: Thanks so much


About Bryan Joe Corder (4248 Articles)
Concert Photographer at heart, Love listening to music and going to shows to try to capture the magic on the stage with my imagery.I also review albums and live concerts.
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