As she rehearses for Celtic Woman’s new Homecoming live show, singer Susan McFadden reflects on why she was eager to join the four-woman group in 2012. “The main reason I was drawn to it was because it was an Irish show. I could go on tour with fellow Irishmen,” says McFadden, a native of Dublin. “Also I get to perform my culture and heritage on stage. This came along at the right time. It was a great opportunity.”
McFadden started performing professionally at the age of eleven when she starred in the title role of Annie at the Olympia Theater in Dublin. Later she toured with Irish entertainers and performed in theater and television. In 2006 she moved from Dublin to London and tried out for the reality television show Grease is the Word – the U.S. did a similar version. She won the show and spent the next year playing Sandy in the West End production of Grease.
“The reality show was a way for me to get my foot in the door,” she says. “That was a role I dreamed of playing. That opened doors for me.”
She went on to do more theater before joining Celtic Woman. She quickly discovered the touring schedule for
the popular concert-style show was more rigorous than her past theater tours. Homecoming, for example, will stop in ninety cities in the U.S. and Canada.
The show comes to Altria Theater on March 16, fittingly just before St. Patrick’s Day.
When she was doing theater, McFadden was used to touring every week or every other week but not every day. That type of schedule can play havoc with a singer’s voice. “On the road, you have to look out for yourself,” she says. “The hardest part on tour is the long journeys. It’s hard to find a pattern for sleeping. We don’t have air conditioning in Ireland, so we have to get used to air conditioning. We’ve picked up lots of tips and tricks over the years to keep our voices healthy.”
This year’s show features lots of new songs and choreography. “We love that,” she says about the new additions. “We do the same show for a year and it’s exciting to do. I am enjoying all the new material.
Since its debut in 2005, Celtic Woman has been named Billboard’s #1 World Music Artist of the Year six times. It features the voices of McFadden, Mairéad Carlin, and Éabha McMahon, along with Celtic violinist Tara McNeill. “We are quite connected and comfortable with each other,” McFadden says of the four women.
The show includes everything from Irish classics to contemporary songs. Homecoming – Live in Ireland debuted on PBS stations in December 2017. “We have a great relationship with PBS,” McFadden says. “People who watched the group on PBS 13 years ago are still coming to the show. PBS has brought the show into people’s homes.”