Barely a decade into the 21st century, the world often feels like an uncertain place. Look at any news headline from just about any continent, and the old notions of security, economic and political stability and cultural harmony all seem to be up for grabs. In Ireland and the surrounding Celtic countries, the outlook is no different, according to Matthew Gilsenan, founding vocalist for the Celtic Tenors, the three-man vocal group that also includes James Nelson and Daryl Simpson. The trio has been weaving together an eclectic repertoire of Celtic, operatic and popular songs for audiences worldwide since 2000. While some of the culture clashes of decades past may have been smoothed over in recent years, "the global financial crisis has put Ireland in difficult straits," says Gilsenan. "The banks are struggling, and life there has become very difficult."
In response, the Celtic Tenors have crafted Feels Like Home, a 13-song CD that celebrates the uplifting music of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales, while borrowing a few songs from other cultures along the way. Some of the songs on Feels Like Home are traditional and some are contemporary, but all of them serve as a reminder that the world is still a hopeful place. The Tenors themselves are living proof of that hope, says Simpson. "Matthew's a Catholic from the southern part of Ireland, Nelson is a southern Protestant and I'm a Protestant from the north. As little as a generation ago, the idea of people from these three differing backgrounds and cultures performing together on the same stage would have been unheard of."
The tenors are joined on Feels Like Home by some of the most prestigious musical talent in Ireland. Their core musical accompaniment consists of producer and multi-instrumentalist Martin Quinn, pianists Colm Henry and Gavin Murphy (Murphy is also the orchestral arranger), and drummer /percussionist Andrew Quinn. John O'Brien plays pipes and whistles on several tracks. Also on hand is the Radio Teilifis Erin (RTE) Concert Orchestra (Ireland's premier orchestra) and the Omagh Community Youth Choir. The Omagh Choir was founded in the late 1990s by Simpson in response to a 1998 car bombing by an IRA splinter group called the Real IRA in Omagh, in Northern Ireland. The bombing killed 31 people and injured hundreds of others. This commitment to harmony in the midst of discord is what underscores and inspires Feels Like Home.