Music Preview: Celtic Woman gives Irish soprano chance to shine

It's safe to say that Lynn Hilary never could have predicted the trajectory of her musical career when she was studying voice while growing up in Ireland. The classically trained soprano landed the latest of her high-profile gigs with the Irish vocal supergroup Celtic Woman when member Lisa Kelly took maternity leave.

"I got a call from musical director David Downes, who I had worked with in 'Riverdance,' and he just asked me to fill in. I also knew Chloe [Agnew] from back home, so it was a very easy transition."

Hilary says that in Ireland, the music scene is very small and everyone is acquainted with everyone else. Because of the size of the country, the only kind of vocal training to be had is classical, so that makes the pool of performers ready to do this kind of music even smaller. "In the American system, you can study any kind of music, but there is not other training in the Irish system."

Celtic Woman
  • Where: Mellon Arena.
  • When: 7:30 p.m. Monday.
  • Tickets: $45.50-$65.50; 412-323-1919.

This certainly left a void in the heart of the girl who grew up listening to and admiring the great vocals of Joni Mitchell and the late Karen Carpenter. "I wanted to use my natural vocal range and not sing in a classical style."

Hilary credits her move from classical to Celtic music with allowing her to explore her vocal range and leading her to the more popular style of music that she enjoys with Celtic Woman. "I didn't want to sing in my chest range or my head voice, Celtic music just fit me perfectly."

Fans might be surprised to know that Hilary admires another pop idol, Michael Jackson. "I am a huge, huge fan. When I was growing up, he wasn't cool because of all of the scandal, but I just thought that his music was brilliant. I would put speakers out the window on campus and blare his music, everyone would say, 'That was really a great song.' "

Although Michael Jackson is a long way from Celtic Woman, there is one thing they have in common -- they each attract millions of fans worldwide and have multi-platinum-selling releases under their belts. The exposure is new for Hilary. "A lot of my previous work, I was hidden in the stage shows even though I was the featured singer. Now, there are songs when I have the stage all to myself, and audiences go mad. It is very exciting."

Hilary loves the bond the performers have and credits it to helping them keep their sanity during a heavy tour schedule to 45 cities this time around. "Every show is a little different; we help each other and don't have to carry the burden alone. We all share the duties, the nervousness and a lot of laughter."

American audiences have been great to the group. "They are always so full of praise. So appreciative, very generous, with the reaching out. They go totally mad with applause and cheering."

When asked what message she would like to convey to her fans, she replies, "Thank them all ... and buy free-range eggs and free-range farm products. I am a vegetarian, but I would love people to just be aware of what they are eating and be sure that the animals they consume had a happy life when they were on this Earth."

Rosa Colucci can be reached at or 412-263-1661. First Published March 13, 2008 4:00 AM


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