Celtic singer returns Dec. 19

Published 10:38 am Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Take your pick: The O’Neill Brothers or Katie McMahon.

The former, an internationally acclaimed piano duo.

The latter, an internationally acclaimed vocalist.

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The O’Neill Brothers and Katie McMahon will perform at the Paramount Theater 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 19.

It will be one of six consecutive performances by McMahon throughout the Upper Midwest in mid-December.

Her soaring soprano has dazzled Paramount Theater audiences before with her Celtic Christmas shows.

This time, she will share the stage with Ryan and Tim O’Neill, who have performed before Presidents and around the world.

The O’Neill Brothers and Katie McMahon will present a concert filled with classic holiday favorites, guest musicians and Irish dancers for a spectacular holiday performance the audience won’t soon forget.

Tim and Ryan O’Neill are national independent recording artists who have released 24 CDs of piano music in their relaxing, signature style.

They have sold more than one million copies of their albums — without being associated with a major record label.

Along the way, the brothers have written and performed music for HBO (including music for “Sex and the City”), PBS, NBC and ESPN; been nominated for an Emmy; and performed live for President George H. W. Bush.

In February and May of 2005, their 3-CD set of romantic songs, “From the Heart,” hit Billboard magazine’s Top Pop Catalog Album chart.

Katie McMahon         

Jim Walsh, music critic for the St. Paul Pioneer-Press called McMahon the “best unknown singer” he knew.

“Most local singers haven’t had the president of the United States tell them that he is a great fan of their work. Most local singers have never had U2’s lead singer Bono tell them, ‘You have an amazing voice.’ Most local singers haven’t been embraced by punk legends the Stranglers, or watched as an audience of Hollywood stars jig up and down to their music,” Walsh wrote about the singer. “McMahon isn’t most local singers,” the critic wrote, “In fact, even though the Dublin native now lives in South Minneapolis, it’s probably a stretch to call her a ‘local singer’ at this point. But it wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to call her the world’s most famous unknown singer, because literally millions have heard her sing, millions own her video or CD, yet few know her name.”

McMahon was the lead singer for the original “Riverdance” stage production for five years. She has toured the world over yet makes her home in the Twin Cities.

“It’s hard work,” McMahon said of her winter tour schedule. “Of course, my voice is always the big worry, because catching a cold could be disastrous.”

McMahon and the O’Neill Brothers met a couple of months ago to talk about touring together. “I’m excited,” she said of the opportunity. “I will have my own band and they will have their own musicians. Their music is a little different than mine, but together we should do just fine.”

The Riverdance experience kept her in a single city for a week at a time. Touring along, whether its her popular Celtic Christmas shows or the upcoming O’Neill Brothers tour is a succession of “one night in one place” events.

That’s why it will be an abbreviated winter tour for McMahon, who plans to be home with family for Christmas.

Now the Paramount Theatre will be home — for one night only — for a “soprano voice that is simultaneously pure as silver and warm as honey,” a music critic has swooned.

On a cold winter’s night in December, other audiences should be as lucky.

Tickets for the Friday, Dec. 19, performance are adults $24.50 and children 12 and under $19.50.

The Paramount Theatre box office is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.