Celtic Thunder

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Celtic Thunder
Genres Folk, adult contemporary, world music, soft rock, Broadway, classical crossover
Years active 2007–current
Labels Verve Records
Website Official website,
Members Neil Byrne
Emmet Cahill
Keith Harkin
Colm Keegan
Ryan Kelly
Emmett O'Hanlon
Past members Paul Byrom
George Donaldson (deceased)
Daniel Furlong
Damian McGinty


Celtic Thunder is an Irish singing group and stage show which is frequently featured in concert specials on PBS.

Celtic Thunder is known for its eclectic, theatrical style show. The group is backed by the Celtic Thunder Band on their concert tours, and their live shows are known for the use of dramatic set pieces (often invoking symbols of ancient Celtic mythology), visual effects, and highly choreographed staging.

Since the original group's formation in 2007, Celtic Thunder has released eleven albums: Celtic Thunder, Act Two, Take Me Home, It's Entertainment, Christmas, Heritage, Storm, Voyage, Voyage II, Mythology and Christmas Voices, as well as ten live performances on DVD entitled Celtic Thunder: The Show, Take Me Home, It's Entertainment!, Christmas, Heritage, Storm, Voyage, Voyage II, Mythology, Christmas Voices, Islands, Live & Unplugged, and their newest, Horizons .

History[edit]

Celtic Thunder debuted in August 2007 at The Helix in Dublin, Ireland.[1] They are accompanied by the Celtic Concert Orchestra under the direction of Phil Coulter, the musical director of the group.

In December 2008, 2009 and 2011, Billboard magazine named Celtic Thunder Top World Album Artist.[2] Their first three albums also placed in the Top 10 for World Albums.

In March 2009, Celtic Thunder opened the Saint Patrick's Day Parade in New York City.

On November 28, 2010, Celtic Thunder member Paul Byrom announced his resignation from the group to begin a solo career. He left the group when the 2010 concert tour was over. Byrom released his album "This is the Moment" in November 2011. He has also appeared as a singer of the National Anthem at Boston Celtics' games. In March 2013, he recorded his first PBS special to be aired later in the year.

In 2011, Damian McGinty (the group's youngest member) entered and won the Oxygen reality show The Glee Project. On August 21, 2011, Damian McGinty announced on The Glee Project '​s Live Viewing Party, that he would be stepping down from Celtic Thunder due to his new role on Glee.[3]

During their 2012 tour, Colm Keegan was asked to stand in for Ryan Kelly who was hurt in a fall. After Kelly returned, Colm was asked to become a permanent member of the group.

On October 15, 2012, Celtic Thunder performed at The Pentagon.

In December 2012, Celtic Thunder performed an unplugged concert at the Sullivan Hall, New York, in front of a small audience of just over 300 people. The concert was in aid of the victims of Hurricane Sandy and resulted in approximately $50,000 being raised.

On January 13, 2014, after only 3 years with Celtic Thunder, Emmet Cahill announced his decision to leave Celtic Thunder via his Facebook fan page.

On March 12, 2014, Sharon Browne announced that George Donaldson, one of the 5 original Celtic Thunder principal singers since the Celtic Thunder auditions in August 2007, died of a heart attack. He was preparing for the Celtic Thunder Australian tour in May. Celtic Thunder made their ‘Mythology’ tour as a homage to him.

On April 3, 2014, Emmet Cahill announced that he would once again be joining the "Thunderheads" on the Australia tour to pay homage to George. On April 5, 2014, it was unofficially announced that Emmett O'Hanlon would be filling the place of Emmet Cahill after his departure. His first appearance with Celtic Thunder will be on the Celtic Thunder Cruise II in November of 2014.

On November 24, 2014, it was announced that Damian McGinty will be rejoining Celtic Thunder as a guest artist for their 2015 Greatest Hits World Tour.

Members[edit]

Creative Team[edit]

Creator and Producer, Sharon Browne[edit]

Musical Director, David Munro[edit]

  • Stage Director, Belinda Murphy
  • Director, Julia Knowles
  • Set & Lighting Designer, Peter Barnes
  • Production Manager, Mark Jones
  • Travel Agent, Ger O'Shea
  • Marketing Manager, Jean Clancy

Current members[edit]

The current members of Celtic Thunder are (in alphabetical order of family name):

  • Neil Byrne, (born November 16, 1977) is from County Wicklow, Ireland. After playing guitar and singing backup on the previous albums, he became a featured soloist beginning with the show and album Heritage. He and fellow Celtic Thunder member Ryan Kelly collaborated on a solo album entitled "Acoustically Irish" in 2013, inspired by the success of the duo's "Acoustic By Candlelight" shows outside of Celtic Thunder.
  • Emmet Cahill (born October 18, 1990) is from Mullingar, County Westmeath, Ireland. He received a university degree in Music Performance from the Royal Irish Academy of Music. Emmet auditioned for Celtic Thunder in June 2010 and was asked to join after Paul Byrom announced his resignation. After 3 years with Celtic Thunder, on January 13, 2014, via his Facebook fan page, Emmet announced his decision to leave Celtic Thunder.[4] He then announced on April 3, 2014, that he would be coming back in place of George.
  • Keith Harkin (born June 10, 1986), is from Derry, Northern Ireland. He plays the guitar and piano and has written several songs featured in the Celtic Thunder shows, including the songs "Lauren and I" and "All Day Long". Keith released a solo album in Canada on September 4, 2012, and in the United States on September 18, 2012.[5]
  • Colm Keegan (born August 2, 1989) is from Dublin, Ireland. He attended University College Dublin on a music scholarship, graduating in 2011 with an honors degree in Music and Irish. Colm auditioned for and was selected for Celtic Thunder in May 2012 as a new vocalist, becoming a sixth member of the previously five-man group. He was formerly a member of the Aontas Choral Ensemble, who are known for their work with Celtic Woman. Colm appeared in the Celtic Woman DVDs 'Songs From The Heart' (2009) and 'Believe' (2011).
  • Ryan Kelly (born November 6, 1978), is from The Moy, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. He holds two degrees from the Queen's University Belfast, having earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and also a Graduate Diploma in Advanced Accounting, qualifying Ryan to be a chartered accountant. In the fall of 2010, Ryan released his first solo album "In Time".[5][5][6] His second solo CD, "Life", was released in late 2013. He and fellow Celtic Thunder member Neil Byrne also collaborated on an album entitled "Acoustically Irish" in 2013, inspired by the success of the duo's "Acoustic By Candlelight" shows outside of Celtic Thunder.
  • Emmett O'Hanlon (born July 9, 1991) is considered Irish-American. Emmett joined CT in April 2014 to fill the position left open upon Emmet Cahill's departure. Emmett first met Celtic Thunder producer Sharon Browne in New York City, where she invited him to audition for the show. He is a natural fit with the rest of the soloists in Celtic Thunder, young, energetic and extremely talented, Emmett is looking forward to his next adventure and to touring with Celtic Thunder for the first time ever on the Celtic Thunder Cruise 2014 and as part of the USA Fall Tour November 2014.

Past members[edit]

The past members of Celtic Thunder are (in alphabetical order of family name):

  • Paul Byrom (born April 11, 1979) is from Dublin, Ireland.[7] In addition to Celtic Thunder, he has also performed at major sporting events in Ireland and abroad, including singing at the All Ireland Finals in Dublin's Croke Park and at Heinz Field for a Pittsburgh Steelers game in the USA. He has also performed for Ireland's President, Mary McAleese, and for Emperor Akihito of Japan. Paul has released two albums: Velvet and I'll Be Home For Christmas. Paul resigned to pursue a solo career in the US and left the group after the 2010 Celtic Thunder tour was over. He was replaced by Emmet Cahill. In December 2011, he released a CD "This Is The Moment". He released the DVD two years later with a PBS Special. Paul and long time girlfriend Dominique Coulter (daughter of former CT Musical Director, Phil Coulter) were married August 30, 2013 in his hometown of Blackrock, Ireland.[5] He recently performed with two original Celtic Woman members Chloë Agnew and Lisa Kelly in the concert called Lisa Kelly: The Voice of Ireland.
  • George Donaldson (February 1, 1968 - March 12, 2014), was the oldest member of the group and was a well-known balladeer, guitarist and flautist from Glasgow, Scotland. Donaldson was a bus builder by trade and was self-taught as a musician. At Scotland's Celtic Park, Donaldson played to 65,000 fans at the opening match of the 2000-2001 season. He released his new solo album "The World In My Mind" in April/May 2013.[5] Big George, as he was affectionately known, passed away suddenly on 12 March 2014 in his home town of Glasgow. He died from a massive heart attack while he was sleeping. He is survived by his wife Carolyn and daughter Sarah.
  • Daniel Furlong (born January 3, 1998), is from Taghmon, County Wexford, Ireland. He was a guest singer for Celtic Thunder during the 2011 Voyage Tour. He is a boy soprano and he was discovered when he entered a talent competition ("The All Ireland Talent Show") at the age of twelve and won. He won his first singing contest at the age of seven. In November 2011, Daniel released his CD "Voice of an Angel". He is in no way, "replacing" Daimian McGinty. Furlong however holds the record for youngest Celtic Thunder singer,
  • Damian McGinty (born September 9, 1992), had been the youngest member of the group. Daniel Furlong broke the record of being the youngest Celtic Thunder singer, when he appeared as a guest member age just 13, McGinty has been the youngest "longterm" member of the band, joining in 2008. He is from Derry, Northern Ireland.[8] He won his first singing contest at the age of five. He recorded the first Celtic Thunder album when he was fourteen years old. McGinty lists Michael Buble, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra among his inspirations.[5] On April 29, 2011, it was announced that Damian was chosen as one of 12 contenders for The Glee Project, a reality series on the Oxygen Network. He tied for first and had a guest starring role in the third season of the Fox hit TV show Glee. He debuted on Glee season 3 episode 4 Pot o' Gold. Though originally awarded a seven-episode arc, his run-time was later extended to 16 episodes including a guest appearance in season 4's Glee Actually. In the summer of 2013, Damian joined Paul Byrom for "The Me and My Shadow" Tour. McGinty also informed that he is a part of Ethan Bortnick's concert.

Band[edit]

  • Dave Bakey - guitar
  • Kiran Brady / Barry Kerr - pipes / whistles / bodhran / mandolin
  • Seána Davey - harp / concertina
  • Laura Durrant - cello / double bass
  • Nicole Hudson - violin
  • David Munro - piano / musical director
  • Declan O'Donoghue - drums

Concerts, tours, and discography[edit]

On December 17, 2008, Celtic Thunder completed their 2008 US tour of fifty cities. They also toured the United States extensively in the fall of 2009. For spring 2009 they focused on touring Canada, while also playing some concerts in the northeastern US.[9]

During their 2008 fall tour, Celtic Thunder sold over 125,000 tickets in 49 shows and placed twentieth in the poll Star Tour Poll.[citation needed]

Celtic Thunder's first studio album and first concert special DVD were released on March 18, 2008. The album was titled Celtic Thunder and the concert special was titled The Show. It was filmed at The Helix in Dublin, Ireland, on August 2007.

The second studio album was released on September 16, 2008, titled Act Two. It included the rest of the songs from The Show.

The third studio album and second concert special DVD, both titled Take Me Home, were released July 14, 2009. Take Me Home was filmed at Casino Rama, Orillia (north of Toronto) while the group was on tour in 2009. It is considered a live concert DVD rather than a studio production.

The fourth studio album and third concert special DVD, both titled It's Entertainment!, were released on February 9, 2010. It was filmed alongside Storm at the Toronto International Centre Hall 5 (aka Arrow Hall), Toronto, Ontario, on October 1, 2009, and October 2, 2009.

After It's Entertainment!, Celtic Thunder fans sent many requests to Sharon Browne[citation needed] for a Christmas-themed album and an album containing more Irish music. Through these efforts, Christmas and Heritage came to be, postponing the release of Storm.

The fifth studio album, titled Christmas, was released on October 12, 2010, and the concert special DVD, also titled Christmas, was released on November 22, 2010. Christmas was filmed alongside Heritage at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, New York, on September 17, 2010.

The sixth studio album and fifth concert special DVD titled Heritage was released on February 22, 2011. Heritage was filmed alongside Christmas at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, New York, on September 17, 2010.

The seventh studio album and sixth DVD, titled Storm, was released on September 20, 2011 (originally recorded in 2009). Storm, unlike Celtic Thunder's other DVDs, is not just a filmed concert but has a storyline, an elaborate set establishing a location, and costumes which help to define the singers' and dancers' characters within the story. It makes use of the It's Entertainment cast which is Celtic Thunder's largest to date (25) and adds singer Dierdre Shannon.

The eighth studio album and seventh concert special DVD, titled Voyage, was released on February 28, 2012. It was originally set to be filmed on September 27, 2011, but due to changes, this filming was cancelled. The search for a new venue began on October 3, 2011, and resulted in a filming date of October 18, 2011, in Kansas City, Missouri, at the Midland Theater.

The eighth concert special DVD, companion DVD to Voyage for online purchase only, is titled Voyage II and was released on June 25, 2012. The CD of the same name was released on September 1, 2012, not available in stores.

The 2012 Celtic Thunder North American tour was called the Voyage tour.

The ninth concert DVD special is called "Mythology". It was filmed in early 2013 at the Helix Theater in Dublin, Ireland. Featuring a Celtic Cross, the stage setting is one of the most ambitious. The tour began in August 2013, with stops in Canada and the United States and to finish in Australia June 2014.

The tenth DVD, entitled "Live and Unplugged" features a live more personal show at Sullivan Hall in Mew York. The concert was a benefit concert for the victims effected by Hurricane Sandy.

The eleventh DVD put out by Celtic Thunder was titled "Home." The DVD has many fan favorites and pre-recorded CT songs in the background of the beautiful Irish scenery.

In November and December of 2014 Celtic Thunder will be touring the Eastern United States with songs from their Christmas CD Christmas Voices. This will be the first Celtic Thunder Symphony Tour with symphonies such as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and many more!

Other bands by the same name[edit]

The Celtic Thunder played its first show in May 1977 at the Harp Pub in Baltimore, and went on to become one of the most influential traditional music groups in the U.S. Called "a great Irish band" by the Village Voice and "one of the best Irish folk acts in America" by The Washington Post, Celtic Thunder has released three albums. The band's second album, The Light of Other Days, won the Indie award for Best Celtic Album.

The band's founders are brothers Jesse Winch (bodhran, bouzouki, guitar, harmonica) and Terry Winch (button accordion). The Winches, first generation Americans, learned their craft alongside their father, Patrick Winch, and his friend P.J. Conway, as they played for traditional Irish ceilis in New York City in the 1950s.

Along with another original member, Linda Hickman (flute, whistle, vocals), the band has featured Laura Murphy (lead vocals), Regan Wick (piano, Irish step-dance), Nita Conley (vocals, guitar, piano), Steve Hickman (fiddle, harmonica, vocals), Tony DeMarco (fiddle), Dominick Murray (vocals, guitar), Rob Thornburgh (fiddle, vocals), Marty Somberg (fiddle), and Patrick Orseau (fiddle).

The original Celtic Thunder was able to retain rights to the name after submitting to a non-competition agreement with the Celtic Thunder Production.[citation needed]

Discography & Videography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Title Date of release Media format Featured soloists Notes
Celtic Thunder March 18 2008 CD & DVD Byrom, Donaldson, Harkin, Kelly, McGinty
Celtic Thunder: Act Two September 16 2008 CD Byrom, Donaldson, Harkin, Kelly, McGinty
Celtic Thunder: Take Me Home July 14 2009 CD & DVD Byrom, Donaldson, Harkin, Kelly, McGinty
Celtic Thunder: It's Entertainment! February 9 2010 CD & DVD Byrne, Byrom, Donaldson, Harkin, Kelly, McGinty
Celtic Thunder: Christmas October 12 2010 CD & DVD Byrne, Byrom, Donaldson, Harkin, Kelly, McGinty
Celtic Thunder: Heritage February 22 2011 CD & DVD Byrne, Byrom, Cahill, Donaldson, Harkin, Kelly, McGinty
Celtic Thunder: Storm September 20 2011 CD & DVD Byrne, Byrom, Donaldson, Harkin, Kelly, McGinty recorded in 2009
Celtic Thunder: Voyage February 28 2012 CD & DVD Byrne, Cahill, Furlong, Donaldson, Harkin, Kelly, McGinty
Celtic Thunder: Voyage II June 25 2012 CD & DVD Byrne, Byrom, Cahill, Furlong, Donaldson, Harkin, Kelly, McGinty for online purchase only
Celtic Thunder: Mythology February 19 2013 CD & DVD Byrne, Cahill, Donaldson, Harkin, Keegan, Kelly also available as 2 CD deluxe edition
Celtic Thunder: Christmas Voices October 11 2013 CD Byrne, Cahill, Donaldson, Harkin, Keegan, Kelly re-released 2014 as Holiday Symphony

Compilations[edit]

Title Date of release Media format Notes
Celtic Thunder: Ireland's Call 2010 CD QVC bonus CD released along with It's Entertainment!, includes 5 tracks
Celtic Thunder: The Irish Collection 2011 CD 11 track compilation released along with Storm, includes 1 new recording
Celtic Thunder: Heartland 2012 CD plus DVD 15 track compilation
Celtic Thunder: Islands 2013 CD 12 track compilation released for Celtic Thunder Cuise 2013; includes 2 new recordings
Celtic Thunder: Home 2013 DVD includes fan favorites from previous DVDs
Celtic Thunder: Myths & Legends October 25 2013 CD plus DVD Australian exclusive package; behind the scenes DVD plus 14 track CD Mythology leftovers
Celtic Thunder: My Land April 18 2014 CD plus DVD Australian exclusive package; documentary DVD plus 8 track CD including Mythology leftovers
George 2014 CD & DVD 16 track George Donaldson tribute album
Celtic Horizons 2014 CD 16 track compilation released for Celtic Thunder Cuise 2014

Live albums[edit]

Title Date of release Media format Featured soloists Notes
Celtic Thunder: Live & Unplugged at Sullivan Hall New York 2013 CD & DVD Byrne, Cahill, Donaldson, Harkin, Keegan, Kelly filmed in December 2012

References[edit]

  1. ^ 21, WLIW (2008-06-30). "Celtic Thunder in Dublin". WLIW21. Retrieved 2008-06-30. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ The Glee Project 
  4. ^ "Emmet Cahill Official Music Facebook". Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Celtic Thunder (2011-05-12). "Ryan Kelly's blog". Celtic Thunder. Retrieved 2011-05-26. 
  6. ^ Celtic Thunder (2011-08-22). "Wow, What A Night - August 22, 2011 in". Celtic Thunder. Retrieved 2011-08-22. 
  7. ^ Celtic Thunder. "Celtic Thunder - Artists". Celtic Thunder. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  8. ^ "Individuality". The Glee Project. Season 1. Episode 1. June 12, 2011. 12:07 minutes in. Oxygen.
  9. ^ Celtic Thunder (2010-03-17). "Celtic Thunder Tour Dates in". Tour Dates. Retrieved 2010-03-17. 

External links[edit]