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Irish ensemble welcomes a new member, longtime fan

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From left, Lynn Hilary, Susan McFadden, Máiréad Carlin and Máiréad Nesbitt make up the Irish ensemble Celtic Woman. The quartet is on a 75-date tour of the United States. (Courtesy of Lili Forberg)

From left, Lynn Hilary, Susan McFadden, Máiréad Carlin and Máiréad Nesbitt make up the Irish ensemble Celtic Woman. The quartet is on a 75-date tour of the United States. (Courtesy of Lili Forberg)

Máiréad Carlin is always ready for an adventure.

That is why Carlin, the newest member of the international musical outfit Celtic Woman, jumped right in.

“I’ve been a fan of the band for years,” she says during an interview from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. “What I was most nervous about is being able to uphold the quality and respect that these women have built over the years.”

Carlin joins Máiréad Nesbitt, Susan McFadden and Lynn Hilary in the group.

They on tour in support of their latest album, “Emerald: Musical Gems,” which was released on Feb. 25. The album also is accompanied by a live DVD that was filmed in South Bend, Ind., at the University of Notre Dame.

The album spotlights newly re-imagined performances of fan favorites from the group’s treasure chest of Celtic songs. Some of the songs include “Mo Ghile Mear,” “Dulaman,” “She Moves Thru the Fair,” “Caladonia,” “Danny Boy” and “The Voice.”

“Emerald: Musical Gems” marks the band’s eighth studio album.

The all-female Irish musical ensemble was conceived and assembled by Sharon Browne and David Downes, a former musical director of the Irish stage show “Riverdance.” Downes still oversees the group’s musical catalog.

Carlin debuted last October with the group. She was born in Derry, Ireland, and was brought up with Celtic music. During the past 10 years, Carlin listened to Celtic Woman’s music and often found inspiration in it. So it’s humbling to be sharing a stage with the women she idolized so much.

“It’s been an incredible experience for me,” she says. “The band and the fans have all welcomed me. We try to push each other with the music and hopefully everyone can see that.”

Carlin also has felt some pressure since joining the band in October. She had just two and a half weeks to learn the entire production. Then Celtic Woman went on a symphony tour and again, only had two weeks to learn the show.

“It really never stops,” she says. “The time moves quickly and we just try to keep up. Having so many things to do also helps us keep ourselves engaged in what we’re doing.”

Carlin says during the six months she’s been a member of the group she’s learned a lot about herself as a singer.

“I’ve rediscovered singing,” she says. “I had wanted to be a folk singer, so I took this softer tone approach. But with the group, I have to sing bigger and be a bigger presence. It’s helped me break out of my shell as a performer and I couldn’t be happier. We all bring something different to the show and each woman has brought something out of me.”

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