NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

March 2, 2012

With new member and material, Celtic Woman return to area

In much of the music world, personnel changes can spell the end of a band's career.

Even if a group survives a change in a key member, there's no guarantee fans will accept the new lineup. Just ask Van Halen about Gary Cherone.

In the world of Celtic Woman, however, which this winter welcomes Susan McFadden, change may actually be an asset. McFadden is the ninth singer to join the all-woman ensemble.

"I think when people come along to see us, they know that Celtic Woman has new faces all the time," said Chloe Agnew, one of two remaining original members of the Irish-accented vocal group in a recent phone interview.

"It's ever-changing. It's ever fresh. It's ever new," she said. "And I think some people are still glad to see that there are two originals left — myself and (violinist) Mairead (Nesbitt). That's a huge part of Celtic Woman: embracing the new combined with the old."

Agnew said being able to change and evolve as new members come and go may be the thing that enables Celtic Woman to have a far longer life than many other musical acts.

"I hope in that way, with that in mind, that will allow Celtic Woman to live on for many years," she said. "It's about four Irish women, it's about feeling kind of self-empowered and about bringing that to people all over the world."

The group will perform at the Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre in Boston next weekend, March 9 and March 10 at 8 p.m. They will then travel to New Hampshire to play at the Verizon Wireless Arena on March 16 at 7:30 p.m.

Celtic Woman originally was created for a television special filmed in Ireland. Musical director David Downes and producer Sharon Bowne essentially recruited the four singers — Orla Fallon, Agnew, Lisa Kelly and Meav Ni Mhaolchatha, along with fiddle player Nesbitt — to perform that single concert.

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