After many years of successful international touring, The Celtic Tenors still can’t quite believe they get paid to do what they enjoy so much
They are the Irish supergroup who have sold more than a million albums, won awards, topped the charts and performed for presidents and dignitaries.
And, no, it’s not U2. Meet The Celtic Tenors, a trio of classically trained singers who have achieved worldwide success with their fusion of opera, Irish folk and pop.
After many tours of North America, Europe and the Middle East, this week they embark on their first Australian tour as guests of another Irish supergroup, Celtic Woman.
Singer James Nelson can’t wait. He is the only original member of the group that began life in 1995 as the Three Irish Tenors.
After an impromptu audition at EMI in London, they were signed to an international record deal.
Nelson and fellow tenors Matthew Gilsenan and Daryl Simpson have been together since 2006 and have cemented their place among the most successful classical crossover artists.
“We’re very harmoniesbased,” Nelson says.
“Because we know each other’s voices so well, we do our own arrangements.
“People watching us notice that the song shifts between us, so no one is stuck in a boring baseline.”
Nelson says the three have become like brothers.
There is the odd argument, given they spent so much time together, but they have developed a “tenor democracy” and “no diva behaviour is tolerated”.
Their Australian performances will showcase songs from their new album Timeless including Somewhere from West Side Story, Bob Dylan’s Forever Young and the Bee Gees’ How Do You Mend A Broken Heart.
The former secondary school music teacher and church organist says he is still amazed by the group’s success.
“You know, we perform at some of the big Irish festivals in the United States and 150,000 people can be there,” he says.
“We might have 20,000 to 25,000 people at our stage.
“We’re just three nice Irish guys who enjoy meeting people and travelling. It really is a case of pinching myself; it’s a hobby that has turned into a career.”
The Celtic Tenors, Daryl Simpson, Matthew Gilsenan and James Nelson, are touring Australia.