Let Cherish the Ladies and Mobile Symphony get you in the holiday spirit

By Melanie LeCroy
Posted 12/13/19

If you haven’t been bitten by the Christmas spirit yet buy a ticket to “A Celtic Christmas” with Cherish the Ladies and the Mobile Symphony this weekend.

Twenty-five years ago, in a small …

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Let Cherish the Ladies and Mobile Symphony get you in the holiday spirit

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If you haven’t been bitten by the Christmas spirit yet buy a ticket to “A Celtic Christmas” with Cherish the Ladies and the Mobile Symphony this weekend.

Twenty-five years ago, in a small theater along the banks of the Ohio River, my soul was ignited with the peppy beats, soulful ballads and traditional Celtic tunes of Cherish the Ladies.

The onstage banter of the musicians and the audience involvement was like nothing I had experienced. During intermission, the band raided the prop room and came out in funny hats and costumes for the second half of the show. The crowd erupted and I became a fan for life. Over the years I have seen the group perform at least five times in three states.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Joanie Madden, one of the founding members of the group this week as they drove to a benefit concert for the Sisters of St. Clare in Clearwater, Fla.

The group performed their first concert nearly 35 years ago and while some of the faces have changed over the years the group continues to delight fans all over the world. Madden (flute, whistles, vocals) leads the group and is one of two founding members. Mary Coogan (guitar) is the other founding member of the group. Mirella Murray (accordion) has been with the group 17 years, Kathleen Boyle (piano, harmony vocals) for 16 years and Nollaig Casey (fiddle) has been with the group for five years.

This won’t be their first concert with the Mobile Symphony.

“We really had a ball the last time we played with the Mobile Symphony, and we love working with their director. For me, I have a special connection because the flute player loves to play Celtic flute and there are four of five other members that love to play Irish music.”

Cherish the Ladies have recorded three Christmas albums over the years and according to Madden they “take Christmas seriously.” One of the Christmas albums, “On Christmas Night”, was chosen by The New York Times, as one of the best Christmas Albums of the Year.

“There’s something about Celtic music, it just goes hand in hand with the songs of the season. We intermingle our traditional melodies with the songs everyone loves to sing,” Madden said.

“We have done over 300 nights of symphony all over the country. Some of the symphonies asked if we would add a Christmas show so we added “A Celtic Christmas”. Every year our Christmas concerts sell out so quickly. I wish we had 60 days of Christmas because everyone loves this time of year,” Madden said.

“People have a great time when they come out. Great musicians, great singers, incredible step dancing and we have a laugh. We always have a joke. I think that has been the secret to our success; even though people might not be into traditional Irish music we mix it up and they are joining along, singing along having a great time. The main thing is we connect with our audiences and that has been a huge part of our success and what has let us do what we love for over three and a half decades now,” she said.

Mobile Symphony presents ”A Celtic Christmas” with Cherish the Ladies at Saenger Theatre Saturday, Dec. 14, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 15, at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 - $80 and student tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at www.mobilesymphony.org, by phone at 251-432-2010, or at the symphony box office, 257 Dauphin Street. More details can be found online at www.mobilesymphony.org.