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Celtic Christmas 

PBS faves deck the halls a couple months ahead of schedule.

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Besides celebrating Christmas nearly two months early, the four sopranos in Celtic Woman will welcome a fresh face at tonight's concert in Akron. Just don't expect new member Lynn Hilary to sound anything like the departed Méav Ní Mhaolchatha. "It's important for each one of us to go out and be an individual," says Lisa Kelly, who co-founded the group in 2004. "We're not asking Lynn to be Méav. We're asking Lynn to be Lynn."Last month, Celtic Woman released the DVD A Christmas Celebration: Live From Dublin — just in time for its fifth stateside tour. The group will perform many traditional tunes such as "Silent Night" and "Little Drummer Boy" at tonight's show. Also expect to hear Gaelic faves like "Don Oiche Ud i mBeithil (One Night in Bethlehem)." The songs remind Kelly of Christmas in Ireland, where she and family exchange gifts, feast on lavish dinner spreads, and gather round the telly to watch the annual holiday episode of EastEnders. "We're a very big soap-opera culture," she laughs. "I'm hooked completely. I have a friend who texts me from Ireland every Monday night to fill me in."For now, the five Celtic Women are getting to know their U.S. fans — most of whom discovered the group through PBS' continuous airings of three TV specials. "As soon as we stood onstage that first time, we knew there was something special," says Kelly. "This has ballooned incredibly for all of us. We went to sleep one night, and when we woke up, we literally were an overnight success." Celtic Woman performs at 8 p.m. at E.J. Thomas Hall, 198 Hill Street in Akron. Tickets range from $55 to $65. Call 330-972-7570 or visit www.ejthomashall.com.
Fri., Nov. 2, 8 p.m., 2007

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