Dublin born-and-raised Chloe Agnew was the youngest member of Celtic Women when she joined the group at age 14. Now, 24, she is poised to blaze her own path to stardom through writing and performing her own songs and collaborating with other young Irish musicians like the tenor Eamonn McCrystal.
The BIR sat down with Agnew to discuss her upcoming “Coast to Coast” tour with McCrystal, which will land at Boston’s Calderwood Pavilion on Dec. 20.
BIR. How did you get involved in the phenomenon that became Celtic Women?
A. I was born into the business. I grew up in a musical household. My grandfather used to say that if you hang around wet paint long enough, some of it is bound to stick. I didn’t plan on going into the business, but I followed in my parent’s footsteps.
I got a start with a wonderful woman in Ireland who took me on when I was only 11, and she basically released one of my singles which was for charity. Then on the back of that, I did a solo album when I was 12, and another when I was 14. It was after that that the creative team came up with the concept that became Celtic Women, which was originally supposed to be a one-night show. We had no idea that it would become the success that it did. It was very natural; one thing kind of led to the next in my life in the industry and has brought me to where I am.
BIR. Talk to me about your musical idols.
A. My dad was a classical oboist and my mother was very involved in musical theatre, the more contemporary side of music. I loved the powerhouse female singers - Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Doris Day. I’m so inspired by incredible women who are songwriters, the likes of Adele and Sara Bareilles. I’ve fallen in love with songwriting over the last few years and I’m trying to bring that into my own act now.
BIR. The song “Pray For Peace” in Eamonn’s new album, “And so it goes,” seems like a true show stopper. The song features you, Eamonn, and the actress Rita Wilson.
A. I love collaborating. I think being a solo artist can be somewhat isolating. Working with other artists keeps you inspired and takes you outside your comfort zone.
When I heard Pray for Peace the first time, it was around the time of the Orlando (Pulse Nightclub) shooting that happened earlier this year, and Eamonn said to me, “You need to listen to this track; I think we need to record it.” And I cried the first time I heard it because these words are so important for the time we are living in right now. The only escape for us is music; it’s the only thing that allows us to transport ourselves somewhere else. And the words in this song are so uplifting! Lines like “Let us think before we speak” and “Let it start with me.” It was a real honor and a thrill to lend my vocals to a song like that and I’m looking forward to performing that song each night on the tour.
BIR. What can audiences expect to see and hear at your performances?
A. We’re both soloists so we’ll both be performing our own songs; Eamonn from his PBS special “The Music of Northern Ireland,” and I’ll be performing some music that people will know from “Celtic Women” and some of my favorites that I love to perform. Then we’re going to join together on some duets and then, of course, some Christmas songs, because why not? We’re in the month of December!
BIR. You’ve been all over the world; are you looking forward to coming back to Boston?
A. I got to celebrate my eighteenth birthday in Boston! It’s one of my favorite cities. I’ve been visiting for over 10 years, and I have great friends and great family. The audiences are like nowhere else in the country, just this wild, receptive audience. And Boston is the last date of our tour! We knew it would be special to wrap up there, so close to Christmas and so close to home.
Fans of Chloe, or “Chlovers,” as they call themselves, can follow her on Facebook and Instagram. Also be sure to check out her videos on YouTube and Vimeo. Go to bostontheaterscene.com for ticketing and information on the “Coast to Coast” tour.