Saturday, February 06, 2010
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Celtic Woman: Lisa Kelly and crew return to Roanoke

Singer Lisa Kelly and the rest of the group are returning to Roanoke to debut the latest show.

From left: Lisa Kelly, Alex Sharpe, violinist Mairead Nesbitt, Lynn Hilary and Chloe Agnew make up Celtic Woman, which is bringing some new songs to go along with a new stage.

Photos courtesy of Lili Forberg

From left: Lisa Kelly, Alex Sharpe, violinist Mairead Nesbitt, Lynn Hilary and Chloe Agnew make up Celtic Woman, which is bringing some new songs to go along with a new stage.

The Celtic Woman tour — featuring Mairead Nesbitt (from left), Lynn Hilary, Lisa Kelly, Alex Sharpe and Chloe Agnew — will go from coast to coast and Canada before it ends in late May.

Photo courtesy of Agata Stoinska

The Celtic Woman tour — featuring Mairead Nesbitt (from left), Lynn Hilary, Lisa Kelly, Alex Sharpe and Chloe Agnew — will go from coast to coast and Canada before it ends in late May.

For singer Lisa Kelly, touring with Celtic Woman is more than a gig, it's a family experience.

Kelly's husband, Scott Porter, is the show's producer. Their three young children -- sons Cian and Jack and daughter Ellie -- tour with the show.

She says it works out great.

"It's very good for them," Kelly said of the children's experience. "It's a good lifestyle. They've gotten to see so many wonderful places in America, and they've got to meet wonderful people. ... They're counting the days down to be back on the tour bus. So, I'm not so much. But they love being on the bus."

Even if she doesn't care for the bus, she likes the destinations. Roanoke is next. Celtic Woman will debut its latest show on three nights -- Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday -- at the Roanoke Performing Arts Theatre. It will be the act's third time in town.

"We've been there before and we had such a wonderful response from the audiences," Kelly said by phone last month from her home in Dublin, Ireland. "And it's a beautiful civic center as well, and we had a wonderful time."

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Celtic Woman

  • Conversation with the group's Lisa Kelly

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Kelly also appeared last year on Blue Ridge PBS to promote the group's latest album, "Songs from the Heart," which is currently No. 9 on Billboard charts.

"Everyone was so kind and so considerate," she said. "It turned out that this is where we were going to open up, and we're really, really excited about it."

Growing up on the road

Kelly was an experienced singer and actress in Ireland when Riverdance hired her as its female lead singer in 2000. While with that show, she met Porter, an Australian who was dancing with the show.

Cian, 7, was born while she was a member of Riverdance. Jack, 5, and Ellie, who will soon turn 2, came along after she took the job with Celtic Woman in 2004. By then, Porter had come over to produce Celtic Woman.

"They don't know any different," Kelly said of the children. "They've always toured. ... It's crazy and it's bedlam on the road, but it's no more bedlam than having three children at home, anyway."

All three are showing show-business acumen. She said that Cian can immediately spot a missed beat or lighting cue, while the other two are doing a lot of singing and dancing.

"They love shows, and they love Celtic Woman in particular," she said.

'Surreal moments'

They'll get their fill of it over the next few months. The show's three days in Roanoke begin a tour that will go from coast to coast and Canada before it ends in late May.

Kelly and her Celtic Woman cohorts -- singers Alex Sharpe, Chloe Agnew and Lynn Hilary, violinist Mairead Nesbitt and musical director/creator David Downes -- are bringing some new songs to go along with new outfits and a new stage.

The production has been a worldwide success practically from the beginning, and Kelly said variety is the key word. A Celtic Woman show features ancient tunes as well as more contemporary songs, such as Sting's "Fields of Gold," which is the opening track on "Songs from the Heart."

"I always say you can bring a child to see the show and you can bring a grandparent to the show, and each will enjoy it and each will take something different out of the experience," she said.

And the audiences give back, she said.

"There's so much to be grateful for," she said. "When you're standing on the stage and you see people looking up to you and smiling -- or hearing from people that, you know, you've made a difference in their lives in some way or you've made some very dark days quite bright for them -- it's such a huge compliment. I still have to pinch myself to believe that this is what I actually do."

She had another pinchable moment before Christmas, when Celtic Woman sang at the White House Christmas tree lighting ceremony. The group met President Obama, in what Kelly called "one of those completely surreal moments."

"It was just that he came down and shook all our hands. We were just in shock. I think he thought we were the quietest girls he ever met, because we just couldn't say a word, and we're usually so yappy," Kelly said, laughing.

At 32, with six years invested in the act and three children along for the ride, Kelly said her smiles during every finale are still real. If she ever has to fake one, she'll know it's time to move on, she said.

"It's an incredible job to have, you know," she said. "It's always been my hobby, so it's amazing to make your hobby what you do as a career."

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