It was a lovely spring semester in 2009. February rolled around faster than January had the month before. January was always a lovely month for me, but granted I'm a little biased (my birthday is January 14th). However, 4 months prior to that particular February, I had ordered my friend Natasha and I a pair of Celtic Woman tickets to their showing in Knoxville along with a pair of meet and greet passes. As the months counted down to weeks which counted down to days, it was getting harder and harder to sleep as I kept getting more and more excited about seeing my favorite performers and meeting them in person.
The wait was not without worry, however. I had learned from the lovely throng of members at celticwomanforum.com that I would not meet every member of the group. At typical meet-and-greets, only 2 of the 5 performers came out to greet the audience, and it was a random process as to which of them came out to the greeting. Lisa Kelly being the first of the group I ever saw and heard, I desperately wanted to meet her so much. That said, meeting any of them would have been truly a wonderful and memorable experience. But in the back of my mind, I had set aside a goal to meet Lisa, as my adoration for Ireland had been realized for the first time by hearing her dulcet tones.
The last day in February finally came. Natasha and I were ready to go, so we made our way to downtown Knoxville to the Knoxville Civic Center to see the women from the Emerald Isle.
3rd row seats, dead center.
It was truly a magical experience from the beginning. From the windy and echoing opening stanza of "The Sky, The Dawn, and The Sun" with Mairead's pixie silhouette against the fog and smoke, to the finale with all the girls clapping along with their adoring audience and waving their final goodbyes, I was wowed and amazed. After the night, my cheeks ached from the wide (not creepy) grin I had on my face the entire night.
More details than that. Listening to Lisa singing "The Voice" just a few meters away was a wonderful memory I will never ever forget. Throughout the show, I would find that my smiles and simple clapping gestures to her would often get reciprocated from her to me (read the entire article, and you'll find the full extent of said reciprocations). She'd grin or do a slight wave from her hip. To my astonishment, a lot of the girls did the same, but the ones who did it the most were Lisa and Chloe.
In the middle of "You Raise Me Up," a spotlight went through the crowd and stopped right above me, lingering there for a moment before spreading out to the rest of the orchestra pit section of the audience. For that brief moment where I was engulfed in the light, the girls seemed to turn and sing to me as I lip-synced the song back to them. Another memory etched deep within the archives of my brain.
After the amazing show was over, it was time for the meet-and-greet. Excited though I was, I was also anxious about a few things. I wasn't sure who was coming to the meet-and-greet, and I wasn't sure what I was going to say. As for the latter worry, I eventually said during the long wait, "Screw it. I'm just gonna wing it."
Finally the meet-and-greet coordinator came out. "Good evening, everyone. The two girls that will be at your meet-and-greet will be Chloe..."
Damn the girl for pausing! My heart skipped so many beats. What lasted only about a second and a half lasted forever in my mind.
If I coulda done a back-flip without looking utterly ridiculous in front of the small crowd of people at the meet-and-greet, I certainly would have. Going over my lines which would soon be forgotten when I got to the point where I'd use them, I looked to Natasha for strength. Granted, my dear friend Natasha is a very darkly sarcastic person, so looking to her for strength was like looking to a horse for cow's milk!
From the door behind the table with two chairs came two of the most stunning women I ever seen. Chloe's bubbly smile greeted us first, her blond hair shimmering in the light above her. "Hello, everyone!" she said brightly. Lisa came out second, her hypnotic smile scanning the crowd with an equally bright "Helloooo!"
Waiting my turn gave me time to take some much needed breaths of air. As I came up to Chloe, she extended her hand with a bright smile, and it was at that time I realized that she had an amazing pair of eyes much like Lisa's, and if I remember correctly, they were an intoxicating blue.
"Hello! My name is Chloe!"
"Hi! My name is Taylor."
"It's so nice to meet you, Taylor! I saw you down there in the third row. You looked like you were having a good time. You were all smiles and singing along. I almost thought I could hear you up on stage!" Oh my God, this goddess recognized me!
"Thank you! It's very nice to meet you, too. I must say, Chloe. I've been watching the Celtic Woman specials for a while now, and I must say your voice has grown so much and you look absolutely fantastic."
"Awww! Well, your check is in the post! You can take a seat right here and stay all night!"
We laughed and chatted a little more as she graciously signed some memorabilia for me. Chloe quickly became almost like a "buddy" to me as you'll see later in this article (I hope you've kept up so far).
Time to meet Lisa. Be still, my beating heart.
Handshake. "Hello, Taylor. Nice to meet you! I'm Lisa, and I also saw you down in there smiling and singing along."
"Hi, Lisa! I wasn't sure if you could see me, because I've been onstage before, and I know those lights can blind you."
She told me that the people in the orchestra pit were easy to see, because they were just under the lights that darken out the rest of the audience.
"Lisa, I love your voice and I love "The Voice." It is my favorite song, and I must thank you so much for inspiring me to find out about my Irish heritage."
"Oh, really? What have you found?"
"Well, my search has only just started, but I can tell you that my last name, Gibson, comes from England, Scotland, and Ireland."
"Oh, yes! My neighbors back in Dublin were Gibsons! What a small world!"
"Speaking of which, Lisa. Remember the song you sang for the Slane Castle special, Caledonia?"
"I go to school here in town, and my dormitory sits on Caledonia avenue."
She laughed, we said our goodbyes and shook hands and parted ways. Natasha said my face was so red. Well, the girls were probably used to blushers.
Natasha and I quickly called our mothers as we walked to the car, beaming with excitement and joy. It wasn't until after we finally reached out cars where we (at the same time, mind you) hung up our phones, took one long breath, and promptly screamed, "They recognized us!"
Not long after the Knoxville show, I ordered another pair of ticket/meet-and-greet package for another friend and I for the show in Nashville, Tennessee. Don't need to go over the details of the show as they were the same as before mentioned except for one major difference - the interaction between me and the girls.
This time, I set in the second row and dead center. As I sat there, smiling and singing along, I caught Lisa's eyes as they neared the end of a song. When it was time to applaud, I clapped and put my two hands to my lips and blew a kiss at her. I was surprised to see her pucker her lips and kiss back! As Billy Mays once said, BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!
Another song, this time, a Lisa solo. Again, I blew a kiss at her, and this time, she put her hand to her lips and blew one back! That, coupled with the reciprocated winks I got from her and Chloe made for a very happy me.
Time for meet-and-greet. This time, it's Chloe and Mairead. I was so excited to finally meet the Pixie of the group.
There they came in. When it was my turn, I shook hands with Mairead.
"Hello, I'm Mairead. It's lovely to meet you!"
"Dia dhuit (Hello in Irish), Mairead. I'm Taylor. Nice to meet you," I said as I handed my Irish textbook.
"Oh, are you trying to learn Irish?"
I said yes.
"That's very cool!"
"So tell me your secret, Mairead. Is it Gatorade?" I was referring to her seemingly never-ending energy as she sprinted around stage, danced, and played the most amazing fiddle solo's you will EVER see in your entire life.
She laughed and said, "Nope." We chatted some more, and she was so kind (although she did appear to be a little tired).
Time for Chloe. I was surprised to see her reach across the table to grab my hand."
"Hello! How are you?!"
"Hiya, Chloe...Do you remember who I am?"
"I do! I was talking to Lisa backstage, and she said, 'Taylor from Knoxville is in the second row,' and I said, 'I know!' We love seeing you out there. You're always smiling and singing along. You're an inspiration to us."
We have just lost cabin pressure.
My friend next to me patted my chest and said, "Chloe, you've made the night for this poor little boy." Chloe laughed as my Irish textbook was presented to her.
"Oh, are you learning Irish?"
"Indeed. Dia dhuit, Chloe. Taylor is anim dom. Conas ata tu?" (Hello, Chloe. My name is Taylor. How are you?)
She replied in Irish and I still kick myself to this day for not asking her what it was she said.
Another wonderful memory forever etched in my mind.
I am happy to announce that I will be seeing them yet again in April here in Knoxville. I can't wait for it! I'll be sure to blog about it! Thanks for sticking with me.....those of you who are actually reading this out there. :-)