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Celtic Tenors Strut Their Gaelic Stuff

By: Aly Prouty,​ Special to the Irish American Post​

When the Celtic Tenors step on stage for a performance, they have a seemingly simple goal in mind: connect with the audience. Sometimes that does not always go as planned.

Matthew Gilsenan recalled one night where the group dedicated a song to a 97-year old woman for her birthday, the only song left in the lineup was “Time to Say Goodbye.”

“You can make faux paux that are awful, but funny,” Gilsenan said.

Typically, the three-man group, including Gilsenan, James Nelson and Daryl Simpson, doesn't have an issue bonding with the audience; a great show for them means they've "made somebody's day a little bit happier."

With upbeat songs hailing from a variety of genres, that can be easy to do. The group sings traditional Irish music, operatic tunes, serene ballads and even covers popular music. Singing a range of music styles helps the Celtic Tenors maintain strong, healthy voices. Mixing up their music puts less strain on their vocals, which is just as important as taking care of their health while traveling. Although, there are no secret tricks to that trade. The gentlemen practice good hygiene and try to stay generally healthy on the road.

They travel internationally for weeks, if not months, at a time, sans loved ones.

While they spend a lot of that time together, the group acknowledged the importance of giving each other space when they can. Spending their free time separately helps them maintain a certain freshness to their relationships and group dynamic. This transfers over to their performances, which they fill with witty banter between tunes.

The group said having that connection with one another is important to their shows, and often well received by audiences. Their humor remains consistent, even when the location changes. Each country and city give the group a new experience.

Gilsenan, for instance, said he associates the United States with warm welcomes, and noted Americans have a “great love for Irish music,” evidenced by their multiple visits and performances at Irish Fest in Milwaukee.

Nelson said he is continually amazed when he travels, in particular to Milwaukee, because he can see the impact Ireland truly has on the world, whether it be through music or culture in general. On his days off during tour, Nelson takes time to get a taste for the sights and culture of his temporary location if the area lends itself to the opportunity.

Like bandmate Gilsenan, one opportunity Nelson always tries to take is making that special connection with audiences. The group tries to take time to hang around after shows and chat with concert-goers. If it’s someone’s birthday, well, they’re sure to take care to dedicate just the right tune.

More information on the Celtic Tenors can be found at:

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