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Conversation with Chloë Agnew of Celtic Woman

On this episode of All Access, we have a conversation with Chloë Agnew of Celtic Woman! Chloë tells us about what you should expect for the Celebration Tour, with songs spanning their 15-year history, how she has been performing in front of large audiences since the age of six, and more! Celtic Woman is at State Theatre New Jersey on Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at 8pm to celebrate St. Patrick's Day!
 

read transcribed interview below

with Kelly from All Access and special guest Chloë Agnew of Celtic Woman

Kelly: And welcome to All Access with State Theatre New Jersey the show that takes you behind the scenes and behind the curtain of the legendary State Theatre in downtown New Brunswick. I'm your host Kelly Blithe and we are so looking forward to Sunday, March 17* because we have a phenomenal concert coming to you live at the State Theatre and that is Celtic Woman. We are so excited because coming to the show on Sunday, March 17* that is part of the lineup is one of the original Celtic Woman stars, Chloë Agnew. With us today is Chloë Agnew, welcome Chloë!

Chloë: How are you doing? Thanks so much for having me, great to talk with you!

Kelly: So, Chloë, how is it to be back on tour with Celtic Woman and being on this Celebration Anniversary tour?

Chloë: Oh, it's so exciting! It feels like coming home, it really does. Celtic Woman is where my whole career and life started when I was only 15 years of age. To be on the tour with them for 15 years later celebrating 15 years of music and Celtic Woman magic is really, really special. It really is. This show in particular—I'm obviously a bit biased—I think is one of the best we've done in recent years because we're celebrating the music that made Celtic Woman what it is all over the world, we're celebrating stories and great Irish talents that we have on tour with us. We have one of Ireland's finest bagpiper's out on the road with us. We have a phenomenal '60s band, we have Irish dancers. We pulled out all the stops for this Celebration tour. Just to be back in front of our fanbase celebrating that 15 years on is incredible. When I first started with the group, we originally signed up on the basis that it was going to be a one night show. None of us expected it to be what it became. Little did we think we would be here 15 years later singing and telling stories still. It's really a wonderful, wonderful thing to be back and part of. Audiences have just been phenomenal and they should be coming back to the best part of the country, the east coast, for St. Patty's Day on March 17.* It's going to be really exciting. We hope that lots of Irish and lots of Irish music lovers will come out and have a good time with us.

Kelly: Yes, we are so looking forward to it. It was just a great booking where timing was just perfect! 15 years of music making for Celtic Woman and just years of going on tour and all of the different songs that have been performed through the years, and the stories—like you've said—that have been told. How has it been narrowing down what is going to be performed on this tour and putting together that lineup of songs of what you're going to cover and what you're not going to cover because there has to be so much?

Chloë: I know! Believe me we could do a show that would go on for four days if we had. But, no, we went and picked the most popular ones, the ones that are always requested of Celtic Woman, the ones that people want to hear, the classics that created our sound. Then, we just picked some of our favorites too that we know are crowd favorites, the ones that we love to get to sing every night. It was tough trying to narrow it down, but I think we've come up with a really, really killer setlist. I think it'll keep (hopefully) the whole family happy. That's the thing with this show, since day one of Celtic Woman we take great pride in the fact that our show welcomes all generations, backgrounds, and cultures. It really does. I know that we are an Irish show, but it's amazing that we have children come with their parents and their grandparents. People from all backgrounds come and celebrate this music because, yes, a lot of it is from our homeland, but when you look at the music it is all focused around love, land, loss, hope, universal themes that people can relate to. The show in itself has a little bit of something for everyone, I think, between the songs, the instrumentalists, the dancing. We have the slower sad songs, we've got the upbeat ones that make you want to dance. We have moments that make you want to laugh in the show, so there's lots of entertainment there, we think, for the whole family. We take great pride in that. So, to get to do that every night now for almost 90 tour dates it is incredible. We feel really lucky.

Kelly: Wow. So, of the songs that you're performing on the tour what are some of your favorite?

Chloë: Ah, that's a tough one. We brought "You Raise Me Up" back into the show, which "You Raise Me Up" has become a kind of signature song for Celtic Woman now. It wasn't in the show for the last couple of years, but we brought it back because so many people wanted to hear it again. That, for me, is a song that I've sung every year since we started in Celtic Woman, and I've now been performing it in my solo shows for the last six years. It is one that I can never get tired of because every night you see the reaction it gets from the audience, it's quite incredible. You see all the energy created in the room when you sing a song that has a deep personal meaning to both the performers on stage and the listeners. That's a really special one. We have "Orinoco Flow" back in the show which again is a Celtic Woman favorite. That again features the band heavily, has got incredible percussion and dancing in it. To see the reaction it gets is everything to us. There is a couple in there—I mean, the whole show every night is very enjoyable—is definitely a certain couple of moments in it where the energy in the room is really, really special whether it be an upbeat dance songs or one of the slower ballads. There is something really special that's created in that space that is just to be enjoyed between the performers on stage and the people who are in the audience. Yeah, like I said, a very special energy that we get to share together.

Kelly: I love the passion that you speak with about performing. You made your first singing debut on national television at the age of six and you sound just as excited as you must have been back then!

Chloë: [Laughs] Absolutely, yeah!

Kelly: This must have been your calling, right? This was something that you must've known early on that you wanted to do.

Chloë: I guess so. I do think I'm lucky that I was born into an entertainment household. Both my parents are in the entertainment industry at home here in Ireland. I was brought up surrounded by music 24/7. It's very much a way of life for me. I never saw the business through rose-tinted glasses because, yes, it is exciting and it's amazing getting to perform and take our show all over the world. But, it is also a job that we take very seriously. Having the opportunity to get out on stage every night and sing and do, yes, what I think is a gift we feel very lucky to have been blessed with, but to get to share that with people and to celebrate our culture, our country, and the music that has come out of us with people of all ages, and backgrounds, is something we feel—I do—really lucky that I get to do this. Some days when you forget—cause it is a job, like I said, course you have your good days and your bad days—but, when you get out on stage at night and those two hours where you get to share that atmosphere and energy and the music with people who've spent their hard-earned money to come out and be there with you, that feeling is like no other in the world. You can look down and you can see a little girl, you can see her parents, her grandparents all excited by being there to share in this music and this very special show. And that is a new lease of life every night we go out on stage, it really is. For that, I will always be thankful this is a part of my world.

Kelly: What I find really interesting is that you have been featured on 14 of Celtic Woman's albums, recording songs in a variety of languages, right? Japanese, Italian, German, wow. That is crazy. What is the process for that of singing all these different languages? Which is awesome because you're talking about getting out to generations and reaching out to generations, but now you're in different languages. That is so exciting.

Chloë: I know, I know! I always seem to be the one that they gave different languages to because I was young and they knew they could get away with giving it to me. [Laughs] But, again, I've always loved languages, I've always loved learning different languages from a young age. Getting to sing in them is a whole other thing. Especially going into the studio and recording you're trying to get a good vocal take that sounds the best, but then sometimes your best vocal take might not have the correct pronunciation of the word. It can be a very challenging experience in the studio. Particularly with—I've done a song in Japanese and another in German and those two languages in particular are quite a challenge when you get into the studio to get right. But, it's also the same thing that makes it is so rewarding. Then, when you get to perform them in front of people and you see people responding to it because you're singing in their language and how appreciative they are of that. It is a really, really cool feeling. So, it makes the hard work and the sweat all pay off when we get to do that. A get thrill of mine is to be able to share music in different languages for people all over the world.

Kelly: Now, I know you're back for this tour and you performed with Celtic Woman for almost a decade before moving onto your solo career. So tell us a little bit about your solo career in that time frame.

Chloë: It's been incredible. It's been quite a journey. I say to people it's been as equally liberating as it has been terrifying. Because obviously I joined the show at such a young age and it was my world for almost a decade. Yeah, leaving the bubble that was Celtic Woman was terrifying, but probably the best thing I ever did because it was kind of the making of me as a person and as a performer. I was finding who I was outside of that world. For the last few years, I feel a different person now to who I was in the show last. Getting to discover a new love for music through songwriting and finding a different connection with my voice and storytelling through song has been great. Just collaborating with different artists, you learn something new every time you work with somebody different. Working with different artists both in the U.S. and in Ireland, performing with different orchestras out on my own, and also just carving out a setlist of music that's some of the Celtic Woman favorites to appeal to the fanbase who've traveled with me outside of the show and getting to develop a new one by performing some of the songs that I write and songs that I love singing. Feeling like I get to bring that experience now to Celtic Woman and also bringing back a piece of the original show. I say to people, "I was a part of Celtic Woman when we were performing to a handful of people on our very first tour before anyone knew what Celtic Woman was." To now look at the fact that we're 15 years on, we're going on an almost 90 date tour performing to big theaters and venues all across America is phenomenal for me. To get to feel like I'm bringing back a piece of the original show into the new one is really, really special. So, we're hoping people who've fallen in love with the show in recent years along with the people who've followed us for many years will come along and enjoy a piece of the old show combined with the new one for a 15 year celebration.

Kelly: Love it. The show is Celtic Woman. It's coming to the State Theatre Sunday, March 17, St. Patrick's Day at 8pm.* You get to see original Celtic Woman star, Chloë Agnew. Thank you Chloë so much for being on All Access. We look forward to seeing on Sunday, March 17!*

Chloë: We can't wait, bring it on! Thank you so much love, cheers!

* = this show has since been rescheduled to Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at 8pm.

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