Máiréad Nesbitt

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Máiréad Nesbitt
Mairead Nesbitt at Macquarie Shopping Centre, Sydney.jpg
Máiréad Nesbitt at Macquarie Shopping Centre, Sydney, in August 2012
Background information
Born (1979-04-17) April 17, 1979 (age 39)
Loughmore, County Tipperary, Ireland[1]
Years active1996—present
Associated acts

Máiréad Nesbitt (pronounced like "parade" with an "M") is an Irish classical and Celtic music performer, most notably as a violinist. She is formerly the fiddler for the group Celtic Woman.


Nesbitt was born to John and Kathleen Nesbitt, both music teachers in Co.Tipperary, Ireland. She has a sister, Frances, and four brothers, Seán, Michael, Noel and Karl, all of whom are musicians. She has been a piano player since the age of four, and began playing the violin at age six.

Her formal musical studies began at The Ursuline Convent in Thurles, County Tipperary and progressed through the Waterford Institute of Technology and the Cork School of Music, during which time she participated in the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland. Nesbitt completed postgraduate studies at Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College of Music in London under Emanuel Hurwitz.[2]

Besides her family, Nesbitt has stated that her influences range from Itzhak Perlman and Michael Coleman to bluegrass artist Alison Krauss and rock's David Bowie and Sting.[3]


After finishing her post-graduate studies, Nesbitt joined the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, thus beginning her professional career as a violinist at age 16.[4] She later moved into solo performances, working with a variety of performers, including Van Morrison, Clannad and Sharon Shannon. She also spent some time as fiddler for the Irish group Coolfin, and recorded an album with them.[5]

Nesbitt broke into the wider world in 1996 when she was invited to perform in the Michael Flatley show Lord of the Dance.[6] There, she played lead fiddle until 1998, at which time she went with Flatley to his second show, Feet of Flames. She toured in this production, again as lead fiddler, until leaving in 2001. Nesbitt also played on the original soundtracks to both shows, as well as for the soundtrack to Riverdance.

Nesbitt released her début solo album in 2001, Raining Up, which features a broad range of musical styles, both traditional and contemporary. The album features a number of guest performers and members of Nesbitt's own family: her mother, sister, and brothers Seán and Karl. In promotion of the album, she toured with her own band.[7]

In 2004, Nesbitt was invited to play violin for a performance at the Helix Theatre in Dublin, called Celtic Woman.[8] The popularity of this and subsequent performances on television and live albums has led to five tours across the United States. Celtic Woman has released a total of nine albums to date: Celtic Woman, Celtic Woman: A Christmas Celebration, Celtic Woman: A New Journey, Celtic Woman: The Greatest Journey, Celtic Woman: Songs from the Heart, Celtic Woman: Lullaby, Celtic Woman: Believe, Celtic Woman: Home for Christmas, and Celtic Woman: Emerald - Musical Gems.

Nesbitt has worked with the bhangra fusion band The Dhol Foundation on their 2005 album Drum-Believable, has composed the original music score alongside Tibor Kasza for the tour of Irish Dance Invasion, a production based in Budapest, and has played and recorded with the group Afro Celt Sound System. Nesbitt also performed privately for HRH The Princess Anne during her visit to Dublin in September 2004. The Celtic Tenors Live in Concert DVD released in 2006 also features Nesbitt on several tracks.

Nesbitt is featured as a soloist on Walt Disney's direct to DVD film Tinker Bell. Joel McNeely composed music specifically to fit Nesbitt's distinctive style, and collaborated with her to further polish the music for Celtic authenticity.[6][9]

As of March 2010, Nesbitt was working on a second solo album, as well as an album with her very musical family.[9][10]

Shortly before Thanksgiving, 2011, Nesbitt married Jim Mustapha Jr., lighting director for The Who in Maui, Hawaiʻi.

On May 4, 2016, Nesbitt announced she was recording a new solo album, Hibernia, in August 2016.[11] The album was released on December 9, 2016. It debuted at No. 4 on both the Billboard World Albums chart and at No. 11 on the Billboard Classical Albums chart.[12][13]

On July 11, 2016, Nesbitt announced she would be launching her own line of violins called Celtic Violins by Máiréad Nesbitt Celtic Violinist. Nesbitt also announced she would be using a new violin alongside her 17th century Matthias violin on upcoming projects, including on Hibernia.[14]

On August 7, 2016, it was announced that Nesbitt would be stepping away from Celtic Woman to focus on working on her own projects.[15][16]

In February 2017, Nesbitt was announced as the featured violinist on the inaugural tour of Rocktopia, a fusion of rock and classical music. The inaugural tour ran from March 28, 2017 to April 23, 2017, with an additional show on August 12, 2017.

On June 30, 2017, the Nesbitt family released a family album, Devil's Bit Sessions. The album features 13 members of the Nesbitt family, spanning 3 generations from age 10 to 81. It was recorded in the Nesbitt family home in County Tipperary, Ireland and is named after the local mountain, The Devil's Bit.[17][18] The album first appeared on the Billboard World Albums chart at No. 9, the week of July 29, 2017.[19]

Rocktopia is appearing in a limited six-week run on Broadway from March 20 to April 29, 2018.[20][21][22][23]


With Celtic Woman
With The Dhol Foundation
Other contributions



  1. ^ Máiréad Nesbitt on IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ Fennell, Hilary (2007). "How I got here: Playing it cool". LoadzaJobs.ie. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 17 April 2007.
  3. ^ "Biography, Paragraph 1". MaireadNesbitt.com.
  4. ^ "Máiréad" bio in Celtic Woman: Songs from the Heart Souvenir Program (2010), pp. 12–13 (paraphrased information appears on p. 12).
  5. ^ "Biography, Paragraph 5". MaireadNesbitt.com.
  6. ^ a b "Talk Time: Interview with Máiréad". Irish Times. 1 November 2008. Retrieved 24 February 2010.
  7. ^ "Active Artists: Mairead Nesbitt". ActiveEvents.org.uk. Archived from the original on 17 March 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2007.
  8. ^ "Celtic Woman". MaireadNesbitt.com. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
  9. ^ a b "Celtic Woman plays two shows at Radio City this weekend". The Record via NorthJersey.com. Retrieved 9 March 2010.
  10. ^ Nesbitt, Máiréad (May 2007). "Newsletter no. 11". MaireadNesbitt.com. Retrieved 16 December 2008.
  11. ^ "Máiréad Nesbitt Celtic Violinist official Facebook page". Máiréad Nesbitt Celtic Violinist. 4 May 2016. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  12. ^ "Máiréad Nesbitt Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  13. ^ "Máiréad Nesbitt Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  14. ^ "Máiréad Nesbitt Celtic Violinist - Timeline | Facebook". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2016-08-07.
  15. ^ "Máiréad Nesbitt Celtic Violinist - Timeline | Facebook". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2016-08-07.
  16. ^ "Celtic Woman Tour - Timeline | Facebook". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2016-08-07.
  17. ^ "Releases August 2017 » Irish Music Magazine". www.irishmusicmagazine.com. Retrieved 2017-06-29.
  18. ^ "Devils Bit Sessions". Mairead Nesbitt. Retrieved 2017-06-29.
  19. ^ "World Music: Top World Albums Chart | Billboard". 24 July 2017. Archived from the original on 24 July 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  20. ^ Desk, BWW News. "Violinist Mairead Nesbitt Joins ROCKTOPIA National Tour". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  21. ^ "Press Release – Mairead Nesbitt | Rocktopia – Live on Broadway". rocktopia.com. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  22. ^ Arts, Bethel Woods Center for the. "Rocktopia with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic | Bethel Woods Center for the Arts". www.bethelwoodscenter.org. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  23. ^ "Rocktopia Will Play Limited Broadway Engagement in 2018 | Playbill". Playbill. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  24. ^ a b "Recordings". MaireadNesbitt.com. Retrieved 22 February 2010.

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