We interviewed two of the five women in Celtic Woman , Chloe Agnew and Lisa Kelly, while they were in Manhattan recently.
Who influenced you to sing?
Chloe: My mom and dad are both in the entertainment business at home in Ireland and from a very early age I was always singing and involved in all the shows and I was dancing, I did everything as a kid and I suppose we just grew up in a musical family, and there was always music in our house. There's music everywhere in the house and I joined, sang in school choirs and stuff like that and when I was 8, a woman came to our school none of us meaning, we didn't know much about it but we were told there was an audition for this choir in the school hall. So you know a few of us all kind of went in and I went in and I didn't know at the time, I was only 8 that is was one of the most prestigious choirs in Ireland. It was Choir Church Cathedral Girls Choir and I was one of the few, they only accept a few girls every year and I was one of the few who got accepted. So I supposed that kind of really brought me into music and they were my biggest influence probably, apart my family so it just kind of all happened from there. Lisa: Its funny cause in Ireland like we all, nearly every house is very musical, so like everybody, as kids we would all be made learn piano or dancing or singing or you know that kind of stuff so I think the story for most must be the same is that our family were a huge influence on us at the start because that is just what Irish people do, they sing, they dance, they laugh, they joke, they tell stories.
Who is your favorite band or singer?
Chloe: For me, I'm only 19, so I'm a typical teenager. I love all the stuff in the charts and I think as musicians you have a huge respect for all kinds of different artists and stuff but I love the different styles of music. I know you guys probably, do you like Miley Cyrus, Hannah Montana? Lisa: It changes on kind of a monthly basis, I go through phases of really liking people, like when I was younger I loved Madonna and have not so much, but I love Michael Buble at the moment, I love listening to him and everytime I get on a plane they usually have him playing on the music on the plane, they usually have him playing so I spend the whole time listening to "Home" in my ears, but that's this month, next month it will change and it will be somebody else. As a singer I loved Barbra Streisand when I was a kid and I loved the Carpenters, which you probably don't know. I did love them as a kid when I was growing up.
Do you think that people would treat you any differently if you didn't sing with Celtic Woman?
Lisa: I don't know, I don't think anyone treats us differently anyway, really do they, its not something we've noticed because its funny like as much as we love what we do, it's like, it's a job so its like you going to school. If you do really well in a sport nobody treats you any differently and because there is five of us as well, we keep each other very grounded and very level headed. Chloe: It's important to do that cause I know a lot of people think fame and success and their heads get carried away with the fairies you know and its very easy probably for that to happen but it important to stay grounded and as long as your family and I think your close friends treat you the same way they always treated you, that is the most important because I'm sure you're always going to come across people who will be all sweet and everything to your face because of who you are but I think if your family treats you exactly the way you've always been then your fine. Lisa: It's important that your family understand what you do as well and that if they're involved, in that Chloe is very lucky in that her family has always been involved in the entertainment industry. So to them it's like second nature, whereas my family were involved but on an amateur level so that they are completely in awe of what we do, they think it's fantastic, but they understand how difficult touring is and things like that so once they understand what you do it makes it much easier but people don't treat you any differently at all.
If you could perform with anyone, who would it be?
Lisa: I think Michael Buble, this month. Yeah it'd have to be Michael Buble. Chloe: For me, I don't know, I guess I'm a really big fan of loads of artists on the charts. I love Celine Dion, I think she is really cool, and I suppose someone who is you know kind of like Katie Perry, someone who is really cool and is very much involved in the music scene now. I think that would be kind of cool. Lisa: She wants to be a Pussycat Doll.
What goes through your mind when you see all the people just staring at you on stage?
Chloe: You know, it's really one of the coolest things ever, we always say that whatever has gone on during the day, especially when you're away from home I know me, I came out on the road when I was 15, and it is hard being away from your family and friends and no matter how homesick or anything you are in the day, when you get on stage and you look out and it's obvious you're in a theater and it's dark, you know there's a lot of people there, it is a really great feeling to know all those people have come to see you and obviously there's nerves as well, you know it can be quite scary as well. But it's a great feeling, really it is and especially meeting people afterward who say, "I love your music, and it's helped me with stuff that's gone on." You know, it's a really great feeling to know you can do that for someone else without even knowing them. Lisa: I remember someone saying to me -- I used to get really nervous -- somebody just said imagine the audience have no clothes on, so that's what I think and start off and see all those people. Chloe: See if I did that I'd just laugh, I couldn't sing cause I'd be too busy laughing.
Lisa, was it fun being a vocalist in "Riverdance"?
Lisa: It was fabulous. It was great; it was a different experience because it was a dance show so you're primarily second, probably way down the list because people come to "Riverdance" and they go "Oh my God, the American tappers were fabulous." That all they remember about "Riverdance", and the big lineup at the end, but it was fabulous I got to tour all over the States and I got to go to Mexico City and all those kind of places. It was amazing, it was great, great fun. We got to spend like a week in the city, two weeks in the city and sometimes three weeks. It was brilliant.
Do you have any pets?
Chloe: I'm a big animal lover, and we always have been. All my life growing up we always had loads and loads of animals. At the moment we have six dogs, we have five cats and we have I think seven birds at the moment, so we have loads of animals in our house. We do a lot of work and always have done for a wonderful organization called the DSPCA, which is the Dublin Society of Prevention for Cruelty for Animals. There is a shelter just up where we live, they take in loads of animals who don't have any homes or found on the side of the road and we're, you see, suckers for a sob story, we go up and we see a dog in a cage and we are 'Oh, Please let us take him home.' So everytime we go up and we used to go up every Sunday when we were kids and we'd do work and we'd clean out the sheds and clean out the stables for the horses and everything, so we always took in loads of animals, they are just like our family, they're not hard work or anything they're just part of the family, and we love coming with the craziest names we can for them, the dogs called Peanut, Rosie, Bertie and crazy names for them so we love them, they're my brothers and sisters. Lisa: And when you ring the doorbell at Chloe's house, they all come out to the door to greet you, it's like all these animals and you kind of have to wade through the animals to get to Chloe. So, no I have no pets because I have three children and they're hard enough work.
Are you nervous about the 75 dates already booked for the 2009 tour?
Lisa: No, I think we are more excited about it now, it's gotten pass the point that you get nervous about things, you probably get a little more excited now as the tours go on. This is going to be a new show, as well for us so we are really excited about that, it's going to be great. Chloe: Yeah and I think as well, you know Celtic Woman, we're like family now so when we're not together, we miss each other so we look forward to spending some good time with each other next year and we should hopefully have some great times on the road together.
Chloe, was it hard leaving school and not seeing your family and friends?
Chloe: Really hard. Packing your bags when you're 15 to go out on a tour and leave your family and friends, no mom, no little sister with you, it's quite scary. But the lucky thing for me was between tours I would go home and go back to school. I was so lucky in that my friends and my family didn't treat me differently and that goes back to what were saying earlier on you know they were the same, old Chloe that they knew all along. I'm so lucky in that I have great friends, have really great friends. There's times when I ring them on Friday night when I'm away and they're all going out and going to the cinema. I wish I was with them but I suppose when I'm home the time I do spend with them I treasure, cause you remember every moment, savor every moment cause when you're away it keeps you going.
Did you ever take Irish step dancing?
Lisa: Oh, I was really bad at it, I took it for a week and the Irish dance teacher or was it the ballet teacher. The ballet teacher told me I was a bit like an elephant and the Irish dancing teacher I just, couldn't, didn't understand the Irish dancing. I didn't understand why you had to keep you hands still by your sides . . . I only did it for about a week.
When you were a kid, did you ever think you'd become a professional singer?
Chloe: No, I'm still a kid and I still can't believe it. I guess when you think, you look at the big artists on stage. I know growing up I loved the Spice Girls, I loved Britney Spears, you know and you look at amazing artists like that up on stage performing to all these people. You never think it's going to be you and although I was involved, both of us were involved in shows growing up, you never think you going to get to travel the world, perform to people all over the world, all ages, it's a really, really cool thing. Lisa: No, I didn't either. I would have loved, I was always singing into the hairbrush always, always in front of a mirror. And like Chloe said, I always did shows at home and I spent most of my growing up, my teens and my childhood doing shows so I always loved it but I never thought, never thought firstly I was good enough to do it and secondly I just never thought an opportunity would arise from it. It's all about being in the right place at the right time, working really hard. Chloe: That was the thing with Celtic Woman, we didn't expect this to happen at all, we all were singers. I did a bit of singing when I was managing school as well, but David Downes, who was the musical director and composer of the show called us up and asked us to just do this one night show and we kind of, learn some music, bring your family and friends along. And that's all we thought it was going to be, we met each other about two days before we found the original DVD and we did the one night show and it was a great success but none of us knew we would have to take the next four or five years out of life to tour. We didn't know it was going to be the success it has been, it was pretty cool, pretty lucky.
Would you like to see your children follow in your footsteps?
Lisa: I'd love too. My mom and dad were very supportive of me and I have three children, my eldest Keenan is 6, and he can't sing at all. He really loves music but can't sing. I have another little fella, Jack, he's 4 and he's a brilliant singer. Although Keenan can dance, they can both dance and Jack can sing and Ellie, my little girl, she loves music at the moment. And I only said yesterday she is going to be a performer because she was crying the other day, one of these talk shows like Maury Povich, we have an English version of that, that was on the TV and every time the audience clapped she turned around and smiled. I think she might be a performer. Chloe: They could all be comedians, they are all hilarious kids. They could all be stand up comedians tomorrow at seven if they wanted to be.
Lisa, do your children ever not see you on holidays?
Lisa: No, I'm always home for the holidays, they come on tour with me, most of the time. They're just, they're not here at the minute cause it's only 10 days, if I tour for any longer than two or three weeks the boys will come with me so they are coming back on tour with me in February, but know they are all always with me. I've missed, I've probably missed both their birthdays at some point, but they are too young to understand that, so I just tell them that their birthday is three days later. So they don't know that.
Chloe, was it exciting to see you friends and family in the crowd on your 18th birthday?
Chloe: How did you know that? I'm very impressed, that was very good. Yes, it was a big surprise. I obviously when I saw our tour that year, the first thing I saw was we were in, my birthday is June 9 and we were in Boston for my birthday in June and I thought, oh no, it's my 18th birthday and I'm going to be away from my family and friends and you know as it got closer to it. I was so excited.
Do you play any instruments?
Lisa: Yes I play the piano very badly, and I can play the guitar. Chloe: I play the piano and guitar as well and when I was younger I used to play the violin and the recorder.
Last year you said it was so hectic waking at 8 and getting home at 3, do you think it will be worse this year?
Chloe: Gosh, well this year it was crazy because I had school you know, I just finished my last year at school. So exactly I got up in the morning and did school till when I could and quickly got my bags together and went straight to the venue, did some more school there and then we've hair and makeup and the show at night so last year was pretty hectic. But I think this year we are all really looking forward to it I know I'm still doing a course, a college course, music songwriting course, that'll keep me busy, cause if I didn't have anything to do I go crazy. There is only so much shopping we can do. But yeah, I think we are all really looking forward to next year, to the new show, I think next year it will take a lot more out of us, its going to be quite a daring show, we are looking forward to being really excited about something new, so yeah.
What is your favorite song to sing?
Lisa: I don't know, actually. If I'm home, in the bathroom I will probably, it will probably be a Celine Dion song, I can sing my heart out and if I'm doing the hoovering around the house. So I have my iTunes on now and I have like, if anyone saw the mix of songs on my iTtunes, they'd think I was completely crazy goes from Nickelback to Le Miz, its kind of strange but in the show my favorite song is "The Voice." I think but again that changes as well. Different days I prefer singing "The Blessing" or "Caledonia" and then we always enjoy singing the ensemble pieces as well. So it just changes. Chloe: I really love singing Christmas songs too. I think everyone really loves singing Christmas songs because it reminds you of Christmas.
Where would you like to perform if you could perform anywhere?
Lisa: I think we've been really lucky here cause we've got to play Radio City and Carnegie Hall. I think I was more excited about Radio City to be honest. I was dying to do that. We've done Red Rocks in Colorado. The Greek Theater and I don't think there is much more here, Chloe: I think Madison Square. We've been so lucky and I suppose anywhere at home because we spend so much of our time in the State and all over the rest of the world, We were lucky we got to perform in Japan. We just done a European tour as well. But we haven't really haven't done, we've done one really big concert in Ireland which was really cool and all our family and friends came along to see that so I suppose that if we did another one in Ireland that would be cool because its always nice to have your family and friends see what you do. Lisa: I don't know if you know but in other cities around the states there are theaters called Fox Theaters, that you go into they are just amazing they just looks like derelict building from the outside and you go in the stage door and it really what myself and Chloe are used too in theaters in Dublin, really shabby, writing all over the wall but the writing all over the wall is all the different shows that have been there and everybody's name. I love going to the Fox Theaters, there's one in Detroit, there's one is St. Louis, one in Atlanta. And there just really cool, and most of them are haunted.
Where you guys overwhelmed when you released four million albums since your debut in 2005?
Chloe: I suppose yeah, when someone else says it to you, you like, you have to pinch yourself and go like oh my gosh, yeah that did actually happen to us and I suppose it you only ever think of it when someone says it to you. But none of us expected it how big it was going to be, when someone tells you, you are number one, two and three on the billboard music charts, that's really cool, really cool. Lisa: I think we are so focused on performing, we forget that the albums and the CDs keep selling until someone says it to you, we are so used to going into studio and recording or shooting the DVDs or go out on the tour, that is just what we do so we don't count them, that's their job, they count them.