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Celtic Woman was formed in Ireland in the wake of Riverdance and America's fascination with Celtic arts and culture. The group was conceived as a mix of pop girl groups and Riverdance. Pictured from left: Máiréad Nesbitt, Lisa Lambe, Lisa Kelly and Chloë Agnew. Special to The Forum
Celtic Woman was formed in Ireland in the wake of Riverdance and America's fascination with Celtic arts and culture. The group was conceived as a mix of pop girl groups and Riverdance. Pictured from left: Máiréad Nesbitt, Lisa Lambe, Lisa Kelly and Chloë Agnew. Special to The Forum

Celtic Woman brings the music of their homeland to the Fargodome

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music Detroit Lakes, 56501

Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Fargo - A new job can be daunting, especially if it involves joining an established musical act and playing before crowds of thousands each night.

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For Lisa Lambe, joining the Irish musical group Celtic Woman is a homecoming of sorts.

The actress/singer had worked with Celtic Woman musical director David Downes on the Irish theater circuit. She'd also worked with fiddler Máiréad Nesbitt and knew fellow singer Chloë Agnew growing up.

"It feels like you're coming back to a family of people you know very well," Lambe said last week before a show in Louisville, Ky. "I always thought the show was very magical. I'm almost more in love with the music now. It's instilled in me now. It's kind of a dream come true." Lambe became the newest Celtic Woman after Lynn Hilary announced her departure in November. She had watched "the girls," as she calls her new colleagues, since Downes and Sharon Browne assembled the outfit in 2004.

Nesbitt, Agnew and fellow singer Lisa Kelly remain the core of the group as others have come and gone over the years.

Lambe says she has great chemistry with "the girls," and says the whole Celtic Woman family warmly welcomed her, helping with the transition from her dramatic background to vocal performance.

According to at least one member, she's fitting right in.

"Apart from looking more Irish than the whole lot of us combined, she has a very unique tone of voice, a bit more folky. We've never had that kind of sound before, and it's quite distinctive," Agnew told the Atlanta Journal Constitution earlier this year. "Even though she's performing songs that the (former members) sang, she's put her own stamp on the show."

Though she sings tunes popularized by others, Lambe says all the numbers on this "Songs of the Heart" tour are pieces each Celtic Woman can relate to.

"They're songs that mean something special to all of us," Lambe says. "There are songs we would've grown up with and songs our grandparents would've sung. Stories of land and hope and loss, all of them connect in some way to Ireland."

Lambe performs the traditional folk song "My Lagan Love," a slow lament sung about a beautiful woman, a metaphor for Ireland itself. She performs it with sparse accompaniment.

"Very raw, very pure," Lambe says. "It's a song I would've heard since I was very small."

Another classic she sings is "Dúlaman," an Irish word for "seaweed."

"It's about a young Irish maiden who can't choose the man she prefers so she compares the two men to two pieces of seaweed, and that helps clear up which one she prefers. It's a bit of fun," Lambe says, adding that she plays up the theatrics on that one.

"They're all songs that lift your spirits and pull at your heartstrings for sure, because they do that to me every night," she says.

The song and dance spectacular "Riverdance" helped pave the way for widespread interest in Irish music. ("Riverdance" hits the Fargodome on its farewell tour on May 15.) But Lambe says the Irish influence goes back long before that.

"With Irish music, it's always been that we've traveled the world; we've spread to the four corners of the world," she says. "Our music is kind of instilled in other cultures way before this show would've started."

But there's one bit of Ireland locals here would hope Lambe doesn't bring with her - rain.

"We always bring the Irish weather with us wherever we go," she says, noting that it rained on a recent day off. "I'll tell the weather not to come with us then. That's no problem."

If you go

* What: Celtic Woman

* When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday

* Where: Fargodome, 1800 N. University Drive

* Tickets: Tickets $31.50 to $51.50, available online at www.inforumtix.com or charge by phone at (855) 694-6367.

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533

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