Wikinews interview with America's Got Talent finalists Celtic Spring

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Irish-American dance and fiddle band Celtic Spring was recently a finalist in America's Got Talent. Talent was an NBC television series search for America's next big talent, featuring singers, dancers, magicians, comedians and other talents of all ages. The series was hosted by Regis Philbin, and judged by former tabloid editor Piers Morgan, singer Brandy, and actor/singer David Hasselhoff.

The mother of the family, Mary McCauley Wood, talked to Wikinews about their group's performances and the America's Got Talent experience.


Celtic Spring; interviewee Mary Wood is top row, center.
Image: Celtic Spring.

Q: For readers who didn't watch America's Got Talent, how did Celtic Spring first start?

A: Celtic Spring had its beginnings in my interest to pass on the culture of my grandparents to our children. My grandparents were from Ireland, and they loved their culture and passed on a love of the culture to me. I wanted to pass the love on to our children so when each one turned four years old, he or she began to learn to play the fiddle and to Irish dance. We never intended to be a performing family, but the children loved the music and dance and became quite accomplished at an early age. We also began going to fiddle camps when the children were very young. At the camps great fiddlers are brought in from Ireland, Scotland, Cape Breton, Shetland Islands, etc. and the children would learn the tunes "by ear" from amazing musicians who would teach the music and provide enough inspiration for the whole year. Ten years ago our children began fiddling at a local farmers' market to earn money for fiddle camp and thus Celtic Spring was born.

Q: Celtic Spring was consistently a fan-favorite, as one of the Viewer's Choice in the semi-finals, and in the top 5 of the finals. Why do you think America loved your performance as it did?

A: America loved Celtic Spring's performance because the Irish fiddle music is beautiful to listen to and the Irish stepdancing is awesome; furthermore, Celtic Spring members are excellent musicians and dancers. I think people love that they are all one family and that they also fiddle and dance at the same time.

Q: Overall, are you satisfied with the experience America's Got Talent provided?

A: Celtic Spring had a wonderful experience with America's Got Talent. We were thrilled that our audience liked our performance so much! We also had a great time getting to know the other performers and all the staff at the show. The talent and the staff became like a big family. Most of all, we liked having all that time together as a family. We are sad that the show has ended and all the family have expressed the sadness. We are grateful for all the friends and fans we have made through the show and hope to meet them as we perform around the country.

Q: Who was everyone's favorite competitor, at any point in the competition?

A: We really liked all the talent who made it to the finals. They were all good, decent people, who had worked very hard to get where they were at that point in their lives. We especially enjoyed all the other young people. Our children travelled to New York City with the cloggers (All That) for The Today Show and had fun getting to know them better. We liked the Millers, Taylor, and Bianca, and became good friends with David and Dania. They were very sympathetic when Piers first said to "dump your mum, dad, and little brother." I think they were shocked when then Piers "attacked" them. We decided that Piers went after the family acts: the Millers, Celtic Spring, and David and Dania (who were a married couple.)

Q: Who was your favourite judge?

A: We actually liked all three judges. Until we came before Piers in the semi-finals, we thought his judging was good and we mostly agreed with him. We were shocked what he said to us, but happy that he could not find something specific to criticise. He never said why we should "dump" the parents and the little brother. After we had won the semi-finals, he said "You are brilliant!" We also very much liked David. During the all the time of filming, we got to know him and we realized that he is different in real life than the show depicted him. We were really touched and happy, and felt like we had won the million dollars, when at the end of the show, he presented us with a photo of himself that said: To Celtic Spring! Your family values, your talent,your dedication is what me and all of America will remember. See you on the big stage soon!" We liked Brandy because by the finals we had her appreciating what we do. I think initially our Celtic music and dance was not a genre she was familiar with. I think she loved our rendition of "Amazing Grace"!

Q: Celtic Spring has performed across both North America and Europe. Where have audiences been the most responsive?

A: Wherever we have performed, our audiences have loved Celtic Spring. Music and dance are a universal language and speak to everyone. One of our treasured memories of performing was when we performed in an Italian village for a really enthusiastic crowd with whom we could not speak. But they loved our show and afterwards showered us with their treasures: a gold painted horseshoe, poems, books, etc... We were so grateful to be able to bring them joy through our music and dance. We also had great fun performing at an all boys boarding school in England. Afterwards they showed us all around their school, including the haunted corridors (if felt like something our of Harry Potter) and then shared their music with us: a jazz band and madrigals sung at dawn in the tower in the quad to welcome in May Day. When we perform we think we are giving something special to our audiences but we are deeply moved by what we get back: happy faces, stories, friendships...

Q: What's next for Celtic Spring?

A: Our hope is that Celtic Spring will have many more opportunities to perform. We would love to continue taking our music and dance around the world. We have begun recording our second CD which we hope to have out before Christmas. We are now practicing about eight hours a day to get the sets ready for recording. Then we hope to just keep on bringing joy and beauty to the world!


This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.