Saturday, May 17, 2014

And then there is Lisa Kelly

Think I was done blogging for this spring? Nah. I had one more event to attend and a major one at that! This went up immediately on the avid fan community radar as soon as it was announced. It would be the biggest Celtic Woman related fan gathering since the Atlanta Believe recording in September 2011. It is highly unlikely that Celtic Woman will ever again generate these kinds of avid fan numbers again. That is not due to the artists but due to company policies, costs, and the ever dwindling economies of most fans. But this was special. This was LISA. For so many this was and still is their girl. Why? Well, not only does she have a nice vocal gift but a great ability to connect to song AND the audience on stage. She has also been exceptional in her willingness to connect off stage or online with a broad spectrum of her fans. What is it about Irish girls named Lisa? Yes, the other CW girl who has been exceptional in this regard has been the captivating Lisa Lambe. She won fans very fast and they are very loyal to her for her kindness on stage and off. But Ms. Lambe we in Ireland doing a very funny and well received show called Breaking Dad which was playing at The Gaiety in Dublin. Instead, Lisa would have another wonderful artist of former Celtic woman fame, Chloe Agnew, joining her. Most of us knew that was likely to happen and pleased as could be when it was confirmed. Along with her came her beau, Dermot. Also, an old friend of Lisa's, Paul Byrom, formerly of Celtic Thunder, would take the stage.

     So what was this all about? Well, a couple years ago Lisa, Scott, and the kiddies made the move, after departing Celtic Woman, to Peachtree City Georgia. Lisa said she loved the area. But she would not just sit idly by and let her gift go to waste. No, she would combine two passions, her vocal and stage gift and teaching. So, The Lisa Kelly Voice Academy was born. This show was a showcase not only for her and her friends but also for her students. It was to give them experience and expose them to what entertainment is about. And showcase it they did! It was a fine venue in "The Fred", and a very well crafted and performed show. Totally professional in every respect. No big money promoter. No "management". It was a labor of love put together by a group of fine artists and a big cast of children. The love showed both ways to and from the stage last Saturday night.

    It began with a big fan gathering co-sponsored by the Lisa Kelly and Chloe Agnew forums. Oh yes, no shortage of Chloevers there either. Video from that will be compiled into another fan documentary but not on the scale of the one done back for Believe in 2011. We had people from all over the world like Germany, Netherlands, and Okinawa, as well as from all over the country. All came together to celebrate the return to the stage of Lisa and Chloe and lend their support to Lisa's business and students. The avid fan community has said from day one we would be there for the artists AFTER Celtic Woman as well as while with them. Tonight was the evidence of that. Smaller gatherings had been there for Orla and Meav as well in past years when they were touring. The message was and is clear to all the artists who are still with Celtic Woman, no need to fear leaving, we're there for you, and many of us would appreciate supporting you with less of the "business" around you which is not fan friendly. One fan saw both Susan McFadden and Lisa Lambe off tour last year at other Irish performances. Another fan went straight from LL's Breaking Dad, where he saw three shows, over to the LK event. Yes, dedication, loyalty, love, whatever you want to call it. Or call it just plain nuts! Yeah, OK, you found the Mr. Peanut suit in my closet.

    The show itself was reasonably priced and a sea of familiar faces were in the "pit" area of tables to make sure the night was off the hook for those on stage. We came complete with signs and plenty of energy to cheer every single piece done. A brief rain shower made us certain we were in the right place. Where would any CW-related outdoor show be without it? No spirits were dampened even if many of the signs were. So who did what in this show?

   After two delightful opening acts (salad and appetizer) we get to the main course. Lisa. This show was like a greatest hits album for her, and frankly she could have recorded all her songs straight from the sound board and produced a live CD if she wanted to. She did solo work of May It Be, She Moved Through The Fair, Caledonia, Summerfly, Let It Go, My Heart Will Go On, The Voice, Fields Of Gold, The Blessing, and Over The Rainbow. She did duets with Chloe of For Good, Green Grow The Rushes (with audience help) and Wake Me Up. She did a saucy duet with Paul of Moondance. Ensemble pieces included the act one finale of Isle of Hope, complete with her students, Tell Me Ma, complete with kids including two miniature Riverdance kids that included her son Cian, You Raise Me Up, and the Happy finale of.....Happy, with the entire cast having great fun and Lisa now barefoot and in tights with an academy T-shirt.

   Chloe had beautiful solos with Hero and Ave Maria. She had the above mentioned duets with Lisa and also a gorgeous duet, complete with Italian parts, of The Prayer with Paul. Paul had a solo of Danny Boy and a beautiful song called Bring Him Home. Colin Farrell was the violinist and he had one solo bit in the first act along with a duel with Scott Porter who danced up a storm (which showed up later). Scott later did a dance duel with another fine stepper in Aaron Tolson.

   So, there was something for everyone on stage and off. It is an event that could wind up being an annual thing for the venue and the academy. Fine by me and everyone else who was there. I'm betting tickets sell VERY fast next time they are announced. Along with this there was some merchandise. Signed Lisa CDs, A T-shirt, and signed posters. There was no meet and greet. We were told that ahead of time. Far too many kids to shepherd back to their parents for that. Some of us did chat with Scott Porter after the show as he helped tear down. Lighting was great for this show as it should have been considering old friend Tom Kenny was doing the work. Sound was good as well. Staging was minimal essentially some risers for the band and some curtains as back drop. Everyone involved should feel very proud of what they have accomplished. The students were treasures. It has also been stated that the dancing part is leading into dance classes beginning this fall. The academy is likely going to be a full spectrum school for various elements of performing arts. Now they only need to recruit Mairead Nesbitt to teach piano and violin! Imagine a show next year with Lisa, Chloe, Mairead, and maybe people like Alex Sharpe and Lisa Lambe? Yeah, you're gonna either need a bigger venue or multiple nights!

   Now, I can safely say no more blogs from me for awhile. Lots of my own house to put in order. But the afterglow from this event will last a long time. Once again, well done Lisa, Chloe, Paul, Scott, and everyone else involved in this truly great event. Build it and they will come. We did and will again and again. Oh, and if you are in the Atlanta area please support The Lisa Kelly Voice Academy. If you aren't in the area she does offer short master classes in the summer and winter breaks. She and her family and business are a huge asset to Peachtree City and I wish them all well. Lovely town. Now go put on your Lisa Kelly CD and start saving your pennies for next year.

                                     Peace,       Scott

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