The Original Five - Lisa, Máiréad, Chloë, Órla
, and Méav.
is an all-female, New Age/Celtic/Contemporary Classical singing group. Created by music director David Downes, the ensemble blends the girl-group concept of hit groups like the Spice Girls and Celtic artists like Enya with some of the elements of Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance tour. Their repertoire ranges from Celtic tunes like "Mo Ghile Mear" and "Nil Se'n La" to modern standards like "You Raise Me Up" and "When You Believe."
The group has sold over six million albums worldwide and consistently charts at or near the top of the World Music chart. Their albums have also set records for length of time at the number one spot; in fact, their first album was only knocked to second place after over a year by their subsequent
album "A Christmas Celebration."
The lineup has varied across the years, as members have left and others have replaced them.
- Máiréad Nesbitt: fiddler (founding member) - former All-Ireland Fiddle Champion for a reason (she's been playing since she was six years old), CW's fairylike violinist has been described as a "fiddle pixie." She bounces all around the stage while playing her heart out. Also played with the Lord of the Dance tour.
- Chloë Agnew: (founding member) - gorgeous, voluptuous blonde, currently just 21, who first sang on television at the age of six years old. Generally treated as the lead singer of the group. Her trademark is her Rapunzel Hair and her clear soprano.
- Lisa Lambe: (2010 - present) - willowy, gorgeous soprano, whose voice is reminiscent of Méav. Has done theatre, television and music. Dyed her hair red soon after joining. Is one of the most well-respected artists in Ireland.
- Lisa Kelly: (founding - 2012) - motherly brunette and former singer with Riverdance, with a talent for soaring ballads.
- Orla Fallon: (founding - 2009) - shy, soft-spoken redhead, and a former member of world-renowned Irish chamber choir Anúna. Her unique voice has been consistently raved about; its haunting, ethereal timbre evokes ancient Ireland. Plays the Irish harp, and has accompanied herself on songs like "Carrickfergus" and "Isle of Inisfree." Lisa Kelly described her as "angelic" with very good reason. Released her solo album Distant Shore in 2009; she wrote several tracks on the album.
- Méav Ní Mhaolchatha: (founding - 2007) - curvy, sensual blonde noted for her "delicious wriggles" during performances. Has a thing for upbeat, cheeky songs. Also a former member of Anúna. Has a healthy solo fanbase, particularly in Japan, where her voice is considered "healing music." Made a one-album-only return on Home For Christmas, due to Lisa Kelly's pregnancy.
- Hayley Westenra: (2006 - 2007) - New Zealander with a thriving solo career and a clear, bell-like voice. Was a big attraction during her single year with the tour.
- Lynn Hilary: (2007 - 2010) - classically Black Irish with long dark hair and vibrant eyes, and has an almost fairytale voice to match. Also a former member of Anúna.
- Alex Sharpe: (2009 - 2010) - got her start in Dublin's theatre world. First joined the group in 2007 as a replacement for Lisa Kelly, who was on maternity leave; joined permanently after Fallon's departure in 2009. Not featured nearly enough, with just one solo song before her departure.
- Celtic Woman (2005) - with Lisa, Máiréad, Chloë, Órla, and Méav.
- A Christmas Celebration (2006) - with Lisa, Máiréad, Chloë, Órla, and Méav.
- A New Journey (2007) - with Lisa, Máiréad, Chloë, Órla, Méav and Hayley.
- The Greatest Journey: Essential Collection (2008)
- Songs From The Heart (2010) - with Lisa, Máiréad, Chloë, Lynn and Alex.
- Believe (2011) - with Lisa, Máiréad, Chloë, and Lisa L.
- Home For Christmas - with Máiréad, Chloë, Lisa L. and Méav.
Celtic Woman Provides Examples Of:
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead:
- The original lineup - blonde (Chloë, Méav, Máiréad), brunette (Lisa), and redhead (Órla).
- The 2011 lineup - blonde (Chloë, Máiréad), brunette (Lisa), and redhead (Lisa L).
- Classical Music
- The Cover Changes The Gender - Averted with their cover of Black is the Colour.
- Cover Version: Of "You Raise Me Up" and "When You Believe," just to name a couple.
- Distaff Counterpart: Has one in all-male Celtic group Celtic Thunder.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The first concert focused much more on the solo artists, which makes sense - it was originally intended to be a one-off event at the Helix in Dublin, bringing together five of the biggest names in Irish music. The concert sparked a tour, Celtic Woman exploded onto the World Music scene, and by A New Journey the five artists - and the production team - had gelled into an organic, coherent whole. From A New Journey onward the songs were a pretty solid mix of duets/trios/group numbers and solo numbers, with each of the girls generally having one or two solo songs in the concert, and Celtic Woman had matured into its current form.
- Fiery Redhead: Averted completely. Órla was easily the gentlest and most soft-spoken member of the group.
- Follow Your Heart
- Four Temperament Ensemble: Says Lisa, "We get along because we're so different. Chloë Agnew is hip, Méav Ní Mhaolchatha is rational, Órla Fallon is angelic and Máiréad Nesbitt is energetic." And Lisa herself? Well, she's the "bossy mommy"!
- Girl Group
- Genki Girl: Máiréad. The way she plays her violin (whenever the music she's playing starts to pick up she begins to bounce around the stage) should be a good indicator.
- Genre Shift: Most of the music Máiréad plays goes from a slow slip jig to a very fast-paced reel as the song goes on.
- Greatest Hits Album: Celtic Woman: The Greatest Journey - Essential Collection
- Hot Mom: Lisa, Méav, Alex.
- Incredibly Long Note: Several of the songs have these as their ending. A good example would be Lisa's singing of "The Voice", where she holds out the final note for eight seconds before the music cuts out.
- Irish Names
- Let's Duet
- Melismatic Vocals
- Name's The Same: With Lisa Lambe's joining the group, things are going to get a mite confusing...
- Of Corsets Sexy: Frequent, and always appreciated. Pretty much universal with Máiréad's costumes.
- One-Woman Wail
- Pardon My Klingon: Songs that are either composed of Gaelic or some other language.
- Sexy Walk: Méav has been noted in the press as the member of the group who adds a "delicious wriggle" to her performances, and tended to be the most blatantly sensual of the group. This trope was a key component of said blatant sensuality.
- Ship Tease: Chloe has blown kisses to conductor David Downes on more than one occasion.
- Sixth Ranger: Hayley Westenra.
- Team Mom: Lisa Kelly.
- Hilariously Chloë (who is the youngest member of the group) has demonstrated this trait. In the behind-the-scenes footage of the Songs From the Heart concert, Máiréad and Lisa reveal they both forgot important items only for Chloë to find what they nearly lost: a violin and a baby, respectively (Lisa was on her first tour with a baby).
- Temporary Substitute: This is sometimes necessary due to pregnancies.
- Alex Sharpe: replacement for Lisa Kelly. Later joined the group on a permanent basis after Órla Fallon's departure and remained until 2010.
- Susan McFadden: replacement for Lisa Kelly.
- Deirdre Shannon: replacement for Méav.
- Méav: replacement for, again, Lisa Kelly on the Home For Christmas album.
- The Bus Came Back: Méav returned for the Home For Christmas album.
- The Heart: Lisa referred to Órla as "angelic"; since her departure the role has been filled by Chloë.
- The Unpronounceable: Pick a random person off the street, show them Méav Ní Mhaolchatha's name and ask them to pronounce it. Watch hilarity ensue. (The correct pronunciation is approximately "Mayv Nee-mwail-ka-ha.")
- The Voiceless: Máiréad has only ever spoken onstage once, at the end of the group's rendition of "Let It Snow".
- When She Smiles: Órla Fallon. She is reasonably pretty, but when she smiles, she becomes the most beautiful woman on that stage - and you will smile back.