Featured Arts 

Q&A with Celtic Woman’s Éabha McMahon

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Simone Garvey-Ewan is a BUZZ Featured Arts blogger and freelance social media consultant. She lives in Orange Park, FL, and loves any and everything artsy.

Celtic Woman is an all-female, Irish music ensemble. Éabha McMahon (third woman in pic from L-R) made her Celtic Woman debut in September 2015. Below, she shares a few things about herself and the upcoming Voices of Angels Tour:

Tell me about your first performance.

I was very young. I remember — well my mom was telling me the story. I think I was only like four or five. We went to this hotel in Ireland on holidays, and my mom didn’t really realize that I could sing. At the hotel, there was a talent show on and apparently I said to my mom, ‘Can I sing a song?’ [laughs] and I got up, and I sang. My family was so shocked.

So, ever since then, have you always stuck with music?

Music has always been a part of my life, but I never thought that it could possibly be a job because I enjoy it too much. And that’s the great thing about Celtic Woman is that obviously we tour a lot of the year, and we have lots of shows, but I never feel like it’s a job because it’s just a true joy for me to get up on stage especially alongside such amazing women and a team of people. So, music was always my passion and kind of what inspired me, but I went on and did a degree in human rights. I did a lot in my spare time, so I try and mix the two as much as I can. But definitely music is at the forefront of my life at the moment, and I absolutely am just so grateful for that.

If you could have lunch with one artist, who would it be? Why?

I have a great appreciation for Irish musicians, especially Irish musicians that have been around for a long time and have had success in art, and sean nós singers. Sean nós means ‘the old way.’ It’s basically the old form of Irish singing. So, Liam Ó MaonlaíI absolutely think he’s brilliant. And I absolutely love Sinéad O’Connor and Moya Brennan. I find it very hard to pick one, but that’s the type of singing that I love — Irish traditional singing.

Do you have any pre-performance rituals?

Yes, we actually do this lovely thing. We stand in a circle, and we put our baby fingers out as if you’re doing a pinky promise. So we all link our baby fingers in a circle, and then we just say, ‘Good luck, girls.’ For me, I try and just center myself. I would always try and just remember why I’m there because it can become overwhelming sometimes when you go on stage and there are lots of people there and you can get in your head a little bit. But I always try and bring it back to why I’m there, and the reason I’m on stage is because I love music so much. This is unusual, but I also try and imagine blue lights [laughs], and it completely calms me.

What’s the story behind the album title, “Voices of Angels”?

Well when you come to a Celtic Woman show, it definitely is a very uplifting experience. If you come after a hard day of work, you definitely will leave feeling relaxed. Before I joined the group, I came and watched the girls singing, and that’s how I felt — very relaxed. It was kind of a very serene sound, very calm and very beautiful. When you think about an angel, that’s kind of what you do feel is a sense of calm and beauty in the sound.

When on tour, what are some things you like to do when exploring a city?

Well, Yelp is brilliant. I just use that so much, and I’ll always look up reviews of places. I usually try and go to local businesses. I don’t really love going to the big chain companies, so I always try and find something local where you get to have a chat with somebody from the area who wants to tell you a little bit about their area and what there is to see and do. And I’m a big coffee fan, so whenever I get into a city, I always look and see if there any good coffee spots around. That’s my mission for the morning usually [laughs].

What can the audience expect from the Voices of Angels Tour?

I think it’s visually and aurally very beautiful. The dresses that we get to wear are absolutely stunning. Also, the music this year is just breathtaking. They [the songs] are very uplifting and epic. You do feel overwhelmed in a good way. You’ll feel emotional and then two minutes later, you might be clapping your hands with joy. So, it’s really kind of a rollercoaster of emotions that you’ll feel in the show. And also, the four of us have a great relationship. I really think that really shows when you’re on stage with girls that you respect and admire so much. The audience can feel that energy that there’s so much love on the stage. I think as an audience member, you can be sure that you will leave feeling that you have a sense of Ireland.

When you’re not recording, performing or rehearsing, how are you spending your time?

I have a fiancé, so we hang out and love going out for dinner and going for walks. In Ireland, there is beautiful landscape, so we try and climb mountains or go for big walks along the beach or go swimming. I love swimming in the winter. I’m definitely an outdoor person, so I try and be outdoors as much as I can when I’m not singing or in the studio.

Catch the Celtic Woman live tomorrow, March 10, at 8 p.m. at the Times Union Center! Tickets available at http://www.fscjartistseries.org/shows-tickets/celtic-woman.