Irish musician and a founding member of the group Celtic Woman Máiréad Nesbitt (pronounced “mawr-aid”) didn’t pick up a fiddle until she was six years old. She comes from a musical family, but says she got a “slightly late start” on her instrument of choice.
“My mother was playing the fiddle,” she remembered during a recent telephone interview. “I said to myself, ‘I have to play with my mother.’ That’s why I took up the fiddle. I played a few other instruments as well, but the fiddle was the one that stood out.”
Nesbitt is coming to Winnsboro for a two-show run, Saturday, Sept. 21 and Sunday, Sept. 22.
She might have started late, but once she got started, Nesbitt never looked back. She is a former All-Ireland fiddle champion and past member of the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland. She completed her studies at CIT, Cork School of Music under Cornelia Zanidache and at the London Royal Academy, with post-graduate studies under Emanuel Hurwitz on violin and piano. She cites her musical influences as Itzhak Perlman, Alison Krauss, Irish fiddlers Liz Carroll, Michael Coleman and Andy McGann, and rock stars like David Bowie, Sting and Bjork.
Nesbitt first came to the attention of our side of the ocean during her tour with Michael Flatley in Lord of the Dance. She was the original fiddler for his world-wide production.
“It was the most fantastic experience,” Nesbitt recalled. “It was one of the world’s biggest shows, for sure.”
Throughout her career, Nesbitt has worked with some of the best musicians in the business, including Van Morrison, Emmylou Harris, and Jimmy Webb, whom she remembers fondly.
“I adore Jimmy Webb,” she said. “I worked with him years and years ago when I was with the Dublin Orchestra. He came over and did a few shows with us. What an icon. I cry every time I hear ‘Wichita Lineman’ with Glenn Campbell.”
Later, when she was filming the first Celtic Woman special with PBS, she worked with Webb’s wife, Laura Savini, an executive with PBS.
The New York Times called Nesbitt “a demon of a fiddle player.” She has been named Irish Music Magazine’s Best Traditional Artist and has won multiple Irish Music awards.
Originally planned as a one-time show for PBS, filmed in Dublin, Celtic Woman enjoyed world-wide acclaim, too.
As a group, Celtic Woman released 11 albums, each achieving a number one slot on the Billboard World Music Charts.
Nesbit was nominated for the Grammys and the Emmys during her run with Celtic Woman. She’s also played at the White House and the Pentagon for 4 US Presidents, and she’s been featured at Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall and at Red Rocks Canyon in Colorado. She also appeared on Broadway in “Rocktopia” for six weeks in 2018.
Her solo albums, “Raining Up” and “Hibernia” charted on four separate Billboard Album Charts – world music, classical crossover, classical and heatseeker. Her long-awaited family album, “Devil’s Bit Sessions” was recorded in the Nesbitt family home in County Tipperary, at the foot of Devil’s Bit Mountain.
“I come from the most amazing musical family,” she said. “It’s like breathing to us. I grew up playing music with my mother and father and brothers and sisters and also my father’s mother. They all play music. We recorded it in the house my father and his brothers were born in. The house is 300 years old.”
The family decided to do the record while they were “all here and healthy and enjoying each other’s company.” They even left in the family chats between songs.
Nesbitt loves performing.
“I move around a bit, as you know,” she said of her on-stage style. “I love getting the energy from the audience. “I always say I have the best fans in the world. I consider them family.”
Joining Nesbitt on the Bowery Stage will be Ryann Murray, “a beautiful singer,” and Neil Grover, a percussionist who has played with The Boston Pops. Grover and Arts Center President Mary White know each other from when White and her husband lived in Boston and were active in the city’s music scene.
For her Winnsboro shows, Nesbitt plans to do a mix of ancient Irish songs like “Danny Boy,” old reels and jigs, with some contemporary tunes tossed in for good measure.
“Ryann does the most amazing job on the theme from ‘Titanic,’” Nesbitt offered. “I get to do some great fiddle lines with her.”
Of Nesbitt, Grover said, “If you haven’t experienced Máiréad perform live, you are in for a real treat! Not only is she a leading proponent of the Celtic violin, she is a world-class entertainer too.”
Murray said, “It’s an absolute honor to perform with Máiréad; and I have enjoyed every minute of working with her. It’s such a treat to be part of this exciting show. I am greatly looking forward to our time in Winnsboro.”
Nesbitt is also happy to be performing in East Texas.
“I’m so excited to be coming to Winnsboro,” she said. “I’m really, really happy. I can’t wait.”
Saturday, Sept. 20 – doors open at 7 p.m. Performance begins at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 21 – doors open at 2 p.m. Performance begins at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets are $35 and $45
winnsborocenterforthearts.com or call 903-342-0686