By Cassy Fiano
Famed Irish singer Lisa Kelly helped take the world by storm. The Dublin native was the lead female vocalist for Riverdance, a position she held for years before being asked to join Celtic Woman. As a founding member, she helped catapult the group to international fame and stardom.
But when she decided that her career touring with Celtic Woman would end, she wanted to settle down in the United States. She and her husband chose Peachtree City, Georgia as the perfect place to raise their family, and it was there that they decided to open the Lisa Kelly Voice Academy.
Kelly specializes in performance-based classical training. While she originally expected to be teaching mostly children, the academy has had a varied age group taking lessons. When the time came to open a second voice academy, it was while on vacation that Kelly found the perfect spot: Ponte Vedra Beach.
- What is your favorite song to sing, and why?
I think because I toured so much with Celtic Woman, and I was singing the same songs over and over again, I’ve found that my favorite things to perform are songs that I’ve never ever sung before. Recently I sang “When I Fall In Love” in a concert and I just fell in love with it. So if I’m asked this week, what my favorite song to sing is, it would probably be that.
- What is your favorite thing about performing?
I think my favorite part about performing is the end part of it. I find that I get super nervous about it, and I really want to be good every time. But after you get through the first few lines of each song, and you warm up, you look out into an audience and you see the way they embrace you, or the way you’ve touched one of their lives. I think that’s probably the best thing for me.
- What do you feel people will gain by learning music, and singing, in their lives?
I think it’s an escape. And there’s so many escapes people can use in their lives these days, but I think music is extremely personal. And I try to instill that in everybody that I teach. Just because you think you’re amazing, doesn’t mean you’re the best performer. Or just because you have the best voice, it doesn’t mean that you’re the best singer there. It’s how people react to you or what they feel when they listen to you. It’s how you tell your story. I think that’s often forgotten by people.
- Do you have a specific performance or event that’s been the most memorable for you, and why?
I’ve played the most amazing venues, I’ve seen the great cities. But every performance is so different. The one that kind of touched my heart the most was probably the White House lighting of the Christmas tree. That was about two years ago. That was an amazing moment that was just so unreal. Being an Irish girl, standing in the White House with the president beside me and talking to me, like it’s totally normal, it kind of threw me.
- Who would you say is your hero, and why?
I am a super lucky girl, that I have a huge group of family and friends. They pushed me to be better and better every day. I would certainly look to my mum and dad, who have been amazing; they’ve done so much for me. Professionally, I loved Karen Carpenter growing up. I only had the one record growing up, and it was the Carpenters; I literally spent hours and hours just sitting and listening to the Carpenters. She’s one of the few singers that you can just hear the raw emotion when she sings; it’s just a really natural, heartfelt kind of singing.
Photo courtesy Lisa Kelly