Chloe Agnew from Celtic Woman recently took time to speak with Chicago Music Magazine president and editor in chief Shawn Kellner on the phone about the upcoming “Symphony Tour” and the newly released “Home For Christmas” album.
CMM: Hi Chloe How are you doing?
Chloë Agnew: Good, How are you doing Shawn? It’s good to talk to you.
CMM: I’m good, it’s a beautiful cold day in Chicago.
Chloë Agnew: I’m in LA it’s a beautiful sunny day here. I win (Laughs).
CMM: First of all, Celtic Woman just released the new album “Home For Christmas.” Its that time of year. Whats your favorite part about the Christmas season?
Chloë Agnew: Actually my favorite time of year is Christmas. Anything to do with it is my favorite. The music, the food, the decorations, the love that’s in the air. Everything about it is amazing. I have to say, since I started performing with Celtic Woman (over to 8 years now) the one thing that I love most now is getting home for Christmas. I think I took it for granted growing up as a kid and I’ve traveled so much as I’ve gotten older. I spend the whole year away, essentially. Sometimes I can spend up to 10 months away from my family and friends. The greatest thing for me now at the end of the year, after we have done all our traveling all over the world, is to get home for Christmas. It’s ironic that the album is called “Home For Christmas” because it is my favorite thing. As we finish up the “Symphony Tour” right up to Christmas, we fly on the 23rd and we get into Ireland on Christmas Eve. So it will literally be through the airport door and straight home for Christmas. It’s the one time of year that I get to kick back, get into my pajamas, and stay in them for 7 days straight. I also get to hang out with my family and friends, and take time to catch up with loved ones. It’s a really, really, special time of year. I think I get to love and appreciate it more and more every year.
CMM: Ya, and its really cool that since you are on the “Symphony Tour” supporting “Home For Christmas” you guys get to celebrate Christmas every night.
Chloë Agnew: That’s right, It’s the greatest feeling ever. Last year was the first time we had done symphony. I didn’t realize how amazing it would be to sing Christmas music every single night. The beauty of the show last year which I am really looking forward to this year is that we had children come out with their parents and grandparents. It was very much a Christmas family show. It was really special to look out and see people singing along with you. Some people even came dressed up in their Christmas jumpers and Santa hats. It was really special. America really knows how to celebrate Christmas well. The best thing,was walking around all the different cities, seeing them all decorated with their lights and their Christmas trees while I was doing my Christmas shopping. I didn’t even realize how excited I am about it until I started talking about it with yourself and another gentleman this morning. I have been asked about it and now talking about symphony has made me very excited about it.
CMM: Do you notice a lot of differences between American and Irish traditions around Christmas time?
Chloë Agnew: Coming in the run up to Christmas, having spent so many Thanksgiving’s here, I think that is really special in itself. It’s like this time of year you almost have an entire other Christmas. I’ve tried to adapt that to my own family over the last few years. The rare few occasions I’ve had a chance to have thanksgiving at home, we have done a big turkey dinner and everything. It’s a good excuse to have a big Christmas dinner twice with family and friends in a matter of a few months. I’ve definitely taken that on board. In regards to Christmas traditions, Christmas is Christmas for me. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, it is still a very special time of year. It’s always “The bigger the better” here. You guys in America really know how to do that. I will definitely take that sentiment home to my family and insist that we get a bigger tree and more lights. I’ve taken on the bigger and better attitude. Its wonderful.
CMM: With Celtic Woman you guys do one of two things. You either record a live performance or you go into the studio and track a studio album. Do you have a preference between the two recording processes?
Chloë Agnew: I don’t know, With this Christmas album, the fun of it was going into the studio to record a Christmas album in July during the summer heat. We brought in mint pies and some decorations and put them up in the studio. That was lots of fun. It got us all into the Christmas spirit. We started 6 months earlier than everyone else. (Laughs) It’s been lots of fun. There is always a beauty of recording live Christmas music in front of an audience. You get to create and share that experience together. It’s the best of both worlds, I think. I certainly love having our new “Home For Christmas” studio album to physically hold in my hands. When I went home a couple of months ago to Ireland, I gave my mom one of the first copies I had. Halloween had not even rolled around yet and she was playing it on repeat in the house. So I certainly know it will be a popular album in our house this year. I am very excited that since our last Christmas album (in 2006) there has been such a demand there from our wonderful fan base. They wanted more Christmas music from us. So it felt really natural and really right to go into the studio and record a new album. I hope our fans are as happy with it as we are.
CMM: This album, is a little bit different than the Christmas album you released 6 years ago as far as song selection. Also, it was 6 years ago. You were in a completely different point in your life than you are now. How was the interpretation for you of these Christmas songs now, compared to where you were 6 years ago?
Chloë Agnew: I definitely think that applies to songs like Adeste Fideles which is one of the solo songs I perform on this album. I don’t know if I would have had the maturity and the vocal strength that I have now to take it on. I don’t think I would have had that 6 years ago. That is really the special thing about David Downes. He had the great ability to choose music for me that was appropriate when I was 16 and still has that ability now that I am 23 to pick songs that compliments the challenges we face as performers both as individuals, and as a group. When we were recording the last Christmas album, a couple of years ago, I found that music really, really, challenging at the time, but it really complimented me at the time. That was thanks to David Downes. Now, 6 years later, it’s been incredible to turn that bend, and be able to take on a song like Adeste Fidelis, which is a big thing and he has to get it right. I am thrilled to have had the chance to do that. At the same time, he has also been great to choose a song like “Santa Clause is coming to town.” I’m still the oldest member of the group, and to be able to take that on with a bit of fun and a bit of innocence of youth was a bit of fun. I think there is a great balance to the songs that David selected for this album. He is a genius.
CMM: After you finish touring supporting this album (all around the world), do you have any plans to put out another solo record?
Chloë Agnew: Oh absolutely, I have actually I have just made the move to Los Angeles. I am a California girl now. That is the plan. I am hoping to spend any time I have off from Celtic Woman working on a new solo album. I’ve very lucky to have 2 under my belt. I did my first solo album just before I turned 13, and my second one when I was 14. So, it’s amazing to have the freedom, there is definitely a huge difference in the sound I had at 13 or 14 yrs old, compared to the sound and knowledge I have now as a 23 year old vocalist. I’m very lucky that there is a demand there from my fans and the people who have been exposed to my music through Celtic Woman. I also know that there is a new sound that I would like to discover. I am writing my own music now. It would be great to get that down onto something. That’s definitely the plan once I can get a breather to sleep and then I’ll think about it. (Laughs) Its definitely in the pipe line.
CMM: Not to many people your age can say they have been to as many countries or experienced as many things as you have, being involved in Celtic Woman over the years. When writing your own music, are you including allot of your experiences and the things that have inspired you on the road in your songwriting?
Chloë Agnew: That’s a really good question. I think so. I think subconsciously I have been doing that. It has not been a conscious thing. For the last 8 years, Celtic Woman has been my life and has been all I know really. I’ve grown up on the road and I guess you’re right. The experiences and the things I’ve seen have been translated into my own music. I don’t think I’ve ever thought that far into it. It has always been a very natural, normal thing to do. I’ve been so lucky. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about how lucky I have been to see the world and to have met all the people I’ve met. I probably am subconsciously putting that into my own style of music.
CMM: Looking back to when you had first joined Celtic Woman as a young 15 yr old girl, and having experienced all the things you have over the last 8 years both good and bad while growing up on the road as a part of Celtic Woman, What advice would 23 year old Chloe give to 15 yr old Chloe having just started out on your journey knowing all that you know now?
Chloë Agnew: Wow, Shawn you’re blowing me away with these questions (Laughs). I’ve never been asked half of these questions before. Hmm, what advice would I give to 15 yr old Chloe? Let me think about this, I think I’ve handled things pretty well to be honest. I’m pretty proud of myself. I think that when I look back I was right; I kept up my schooling, which was very important to me. I’m glad that I can look back and say I did that. At the same time, I think I have tried to enjoy myself as much as I’ve worked. I got the best of both worlds. When I finished schooling on the road, I finished my schooling when I was 18, when I started touring without having to meet with a tutor every single day, it almost felt like touring for the first time because I actually got to see the cities that I was in, and enjoy them. So if I was to look back, I might wish that I had done that a bit earlier but I do feel that I’ve made the best out of all my time. I would probably tell myself to “Stop being so nervous.” I spent the first 3 years of Celtic Woman going out on stage shaking every night. It was such a huge adjustment for me to make. I was very lucky to be born into a family that was very heavy in the entertainment industry at home in Ireland. My mother (Adele “Tink” King) is quite a well known face at home in Ireland. I definitely grew up and didn’t see anything too rough. I knew what hard work was, and I was not afraid of it. I was lucky to have that on my side. But at the same time, packing your suit cases up at 15 and heading out to a whole different country with a whole different group of people you don’t know. Standing on stage in front of thousands of people every night are very scary big shoes to fill. Especially, when your standing on stage with people who are far more experienced than you are. So again, if I had to look that that is the thing I would say to myself. “Stop shaking and take it all in. Stop being so nervous.” I still get nervous. I still get so sick with nerves, but I think I’ve learned to control it now and I enjoy it. I know it is a good thing. I think the minute you stop getting nervous there is something wrong, you have stopped caring. I’m telling myself it’s a good thing. (laughs).
CMM: Celtic Woman have had a focus on song interpretations. The attention to detail is one of the many things that have helped the group achieve tremendous success and admiration. This especially shines on stage when you perform. Is there a song over the last 8 years that you have perform that really means a lot to you and causes you to visualize the same things in your head while your singing it?
Chloë Agnew: I actually can’t put my finger on one. There have been so many. I have been so very lucky to perform songs that really tug on the heart strings. “The Prayer” was one that I performed in the show for years. “When You Believe” is one that I have performed recently, and “Ave Maria” is one that is in my live show at the moment. Those 3 songs have been songs that I perform every night. When I am go out on stage I see people openly affected by them. Especially, a song like “When You Believe.” The lyrics of that song are really incredible. It is a songs that I listen to and wish I had written. It’s really so special. I think a lot of people have found strength and hope in the lyrics. Its been really rewarding to meet and talk to people at our meet and greet events come up and tell me how much that song means to them and how it has helped them. I think going out on stage every night with the knowledge that your singing a song that has helped somebody through a difficult time in their life is a feeling like no other. You don’t expect to hear anything like that when signing up for a job like this. I think you start to realize that what your doing means allot to allot of people. It is really an incredible feeling that I had no idea would come from being a part of Celtic Woman when I first started. Another song that has been with us since day 1 is “You Raise Me Up.” It is recognized all over the world. Again, the lyrics and melody are so simple but its incredible how much that song can move people. People are amazing, particularly here in America. They are very open with sharing their emotions with you. They will openly laugh, and openly cry. It’s a beautiful shared experience. We always say the audience is the 4th wall and its really true. That structure and everything takes place inside is a shared experience. When people leave the theater we hope that they will take away from it. We hope that they pass their worries and their troubles at the door and for 2 hours they can come in and escape from that, loose themselves in music that fills them with joy and happiness. Hopefully they leave the theater feeling better than they did when they entered it. That’s the most important part of our job and if we can perform music that allows people to do that, that gives me so much strength to go out there and perform better every night because I know what I’m doing is very special and I’m very lucky to have performed songs in Celtic Woman that have given that to people, I really am.
CMM: We are very excited for your 2 shows coming up in Naperville on December 8th and 9th. The tour came through Naperville last year too. How was that show last year?
Chloë Agnew: Yes we did, I’m very excited too for the upcoming Naperville shows as well. We all are. Last year on the “Symphony Tour” Naperville was one of our best shows. It was the smallest venue we had played on the tour however we had so much fun. The crowd was amazing and the orchestra there was one of the best we performed with all tour. They were some of the nicest, most welcoming people we had the pleasure of dealing with on the tour. We are very excited to be returning to Pfeiffer Hall and that we have 2 nights there this year.
CMM: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today Chloe. We look forward to the upcoming Naperville shows and we wish you safety on the road and a fantastic tour supporting your new album “Home For Christmas.” Happy Holidays to you and everyone involved with Celtic Woman.
New York, NY — Global sensation Celtic Woman kick off their Christmas Celebration Symphony Tour, with tour ensemble Chloë Agnew, Lisa Lambe, Susan McFadden, and Celtic Violinist Máiréad Nesbitt, on December 1st in Foxwoods, CT, making stops across the US and finishing in Huntsville, AL on December 22nd. The ladies are touring this December in support of their holiday album, Home For Christmas, via Manhattan Records, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard World Music Charts. This marked Celtic Woman’s eighth consecutive #1 World Music debut! Celtic Woman will be performing songs from Home For Christmas on QVC December 5th at 12pm EST to promote an exclusive bundle of their holiday album with a special 6-track bonus CD, A Christmas Celebration sampler (album and sampler tracklistings below). The bundle is now available for pre-order on QVC, click here. Celtic Woman will continue to tour North America in 2013 with a 67 date tour from coast to coast! Please see below for full tour dates.
Home For Christmas features the celestial voices of Chloë Agnew, Lisa Lambe, and Méav Ní Mhaolchatha along with dynamic inventiveness from Celtic violinist Máiréad Nesbitt. This is the all-female Irish music ensemble’s second Christmas album and features such holiday favorites as “Winter Wonderland”, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and the Christmas classic “Silent Night”. Its first, the platinum-selling A Christmas Celebration, featured songs from Celtic Woman’s PBS special and is a perennial holiday favorite and stocking-stuffer. Home For Christmas is sure to become a must-have gift item.
Earlier this month, Celtic Woman appeared as themselves on the CBS daytime drama The Bold and the Beautiful, performing two songs, “The Parting Glass” and “Danny Boy.”
Since Celtic Woman’s inception in 2004, the unique ensemble has emerged as a spectacular commercial success and a genuine cultural phenomenon thanks to their evocative, uplifting music. The group’s albums and DVDs have gone multi-platinum, sold +7 million units worldwide (including their 2012 project BELIEVE), notched two Top 10 album debuts on the Billboard Top 200 Album chart and four Top 5 releases on the Top DVD Music Video chart, and sold more than 2.2 million concert tickets. All eight Celtic Woman album releases have debuted at #1 on the Billboard World Music Chart.
Celtic Woman – Home For Christmas
Album Track listing:
1. I’ll Be Home For Christmas (Lisa Lambe)
2. Hark The Herald Angels Sing (Chloë Agnew, Méav Ní Mhaolchatha, Lisa Lambe, Máiréad Nesbitt)
3. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Chloë Agnew, Máiréad Nesbitt)
4. Silent Night (Méav Ní Mhaolchatha)
5. We Three Kings (Lisa Lambe, Chloë Agnew, Méav Ní Mhaolchatha)
6. We Wish You A Merry Christmas (Chloë Agnew, Méav Ní Mhaolchatha, Lisa Lambe, Máiréad Nesbitt)
7. What Child Is This (Méav Ní Mhaolchatha, Máiréad Nesbitt)
8. Adeste Fidelis (Chloë Agnew)
9. Winter Wonderland (Chloë Agnew, Méav Ní Mhaolchatha, Lisa Lambe, Máiréad Nesbitt)
10. Mary’s Boy Child (Lisa Lambe, Chloë Agnew, Méav Ní Mhaolchatha)
11. Auld Lang Syne (Lisa Lambe)
12. Joy To The World (Lisa Lambe, Chloë Agnew, Méav Ní Mhaolchatha)
Celtic Woman – A Christmas Celebration
1. O Holy Night
2. Away In A Manger
3. Ding Dong Merrily On High
4. Panis Angelicus
5. Don Oíche Úd I mBeithil (That Night In Bethlehem)
6. O Come All Ye Faithful
Christmas Celebration Symphony Tour
12/01 Foxwoods, CT MGM Grand at Foxwoods
12/03 Pittsburgh, PA Heinz Hall
12/04 Pittsburgh, PA Heinz Hall
12/06 Detroit, MI The Fox Theatre
12/07 Merrillville, IN Star Plaza Theater
12/08 Naperville, IL Pfeiffer Hall
12/09 Naperville, IL Pfeiffer Hall
12/11 Costa Mesa, CA Segerstrom Center for the Arts
12/13 Temecula, CA Pechanga Resort and Casino
12/14 Temecula, CA Pechanga Resort and Casino
12/15 Indio, CA Fantasy Springs
12/16 Tucson, AZ Centennial Hall
12/18 College Station, TX Rudder Auditorium
12/20 Atlanta, GA Symphony Hall
12/21 Anniston, AL Anniston PAC
12/22 Huntsville, AL Von Braun Center
2013 North American Tour
2/22 Worcester, MA Hanover Theater
2/24 Toronto Sony Hummingbird
2/25 Toronto Sony Hummingbird
2/26 Montreal Place des Artes
2/28 Moncton, NB Casino New Brunswick
3/1 Halifax, NS Halifax Metro Center
3/3 Portland, ME Merrill Auditorium
3/4 Amherst, MA Mullins Center-Arena
3/6 Binghamton, NY The Forum Theatre
3/8 Utica, NY Stanley Theater
3/9 Lancaster, PA American Music Theater
3/10 Lancaster, PA American Music Theater
3/11 Erie, PA Warner Theatre
3/13 Shippensburg, PA Luhrs Center
3/15 Newark, NJ New Jersey Performing Arts Center
3/16 Wallingford, CT Oakdale
3/17 Boston,MA Wang
3/18 Manchester, NH Verizon Wireless Arena
3/20 Scranton, PA Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple
3/21 University Park, PA Eisenhower Auditorium
3/23 Providence, RI PPAC
3/24 Greenvale, NY Tilles Center
3/25 Baltimore, MD Hippodrome
3/27 Pittsburgh, PA Heinz Hall
3/28 Rochester, NY Auditorium
3/29 Syracuse, NY Landmark
3/30 Elmira, NY Clemens
3/31 Buffalo, NY Sheas PAC
4/3 Toledo, OH Stranahan
4/5 East Lansing, MI Wharton
4/6 Kalamazoo, MI Miller Auditorium
4/7 Cleveland, OH Palace
4/8 Fort Wayne, IN Embassy Theater
4/10 South Bend, IN Morris
4/12 Sioux Falls, SD Washington Pavilion
4/13 Grand Forks, ND Chester Fritz
4/14 Minneapolis, MN Orpheum
4/15 Milwaukee, WI Milwaukee Theatre
4/17 Des Moines, IA Civic Center
4/19 Indianapolis, IN Murat
4/20 Chattanooga, TN Memorial
4/21 Richmond, KY EKU Center
4/22 Springfield, IL Sanagamon
4/24 Dayton, OH Schuster
4/25 Louisville, KY Palace
4/27 Cherokee, NC Harrahs
4/28 Durham, NC DPAC
4/29 Charlotte, NC Belk
5/1 Atlanta, GA Fox
5/3 Jacksonville, FL Times Union
5/4 Savannah, GA John Mercer Theater
5/5 Orlando, FL Bob Carr
5/6 Ft. Myers, FL Barbara B. Mann
5/8 Lakeland, FL Lakeland Theater
5/10 Sarasota, FL Van Wezel
5/11 Coral Springs, FL Center for the Arts
5/12 West Palm, FL Kravis Center
5/13 Melbourne, FL King Center
5/15 Columbus, GA River Center
5/17 Oklahoma City, OK Gaylord Center
5/18 Longview, TX Belcher Center
5/19 Dallas, TX Verizon
5/20 San Antonio, TX Majestic
5/21 Midland, TX Wagner Noël PAC
5/26 Phoenix, AZ Casino
5/27 Las Vegas Smith Center
5/29 San Rafael Marin Center
5/30 San Rafael Marin Center
5/31 Santa Ynez Chumash
6/2 Portland, OR Schnitzer
6/3 Vancouver, BC Queen Elizabeth
6/5 Seattle, WA Paramount
6/6 Spokane, WA INB Opera House
6/7 Boise, ID Morrison
6/9 Rapid City, SD Rushmore Plaza
6/10 Morrison CO Red Rocks
6/12 Omaha, NE Orpheum
6/13 Highland Park, IL Ravinia
6/15 Vienna, VA Wolftrap
6/16 Bethel, NY Bethel Woods