A local high school teacher is dusting off the vocal chords with a performance at a downtown venue.
Alicia Merritt is the theater instructor at Millennium Charter Academy High School. Before that, however, she toured the country as the front woman of a Celtic music group.
This St. Patrick’s Day, Merritt and her band will give a concert at the Reeves Theater in downtown Elkin. Before that, the group will warm up with a performance here on Saturday.
“I’m calling my group Coddle Stew after the eclectic Irish stew of the same name since we’re such a mixture of genres: Celtic, country, pop, folk and Americana,” said Merritt. Coddle Stew will play at Thirsty Souls on Market Street from 7-10 p.m. Saturday.
“I front us on vocals, rhythm guitar and vocals, while Jonathan Owens plays fiddle and Mark Richards plays lead guitar and mandolin, as well as doing occasional vocal harmonies,” she said.
“Before settling in Mount Airy in 2009, I had been touring the country with my Celtic group, the Alicia Merritt Ceilidh Band,” she said.
Her 1998 CD “Celtic Dream” was nominated for a Grammy for best traditional folk album.
“We were regulars on the Celtic festival circuit during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Festivals included Long’s Peak Scottish Festival in Estes Park, Colorado, the Ozark Scottish Festival in Batesville, Arkansas, and the Scottish Highland Games and Celtic Festival in Ocala, Florida. We even performed at Harrah’s and Fitzgerald’s in Las Vegas, Reno, and Tunica.”
Even then she showed an interest in education.
“At the time, I also worked for the Memphis Arts Council as an itinerant teaching artist, taking my band up and down the edge of west Tennessee to perform for school audiences and teach about Celtic culture,” she recalled.
“Life has quieted down a bit since then as I concentrate on my family and teaching theater, art and music,” she said. “Nowadays, I schedule concerts a little closer to home at local venues such as vineyards and breweries.”