Alex Sharpe still loves the feeling she gets when singing LDS hymns.
Sharpe, an Irish singer who's on a three-month tour of the United States with the group Celtic Woman, was 1 year old when her mother was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So Sharpe got her musical start singing at church meetings and baptisms in Blanchardstown, on the outskirts of Dublin.
Those songs still resonate with her.
"I love 'Abide With Me' and 'I Know That My Redeemer Lives,"' she said in a phone interview from Seattle. "I love singing hymns. Music is a very powerful thing. I've heard it said that music prepares a man's soul to receive the gospel."
She doesn't know where she got her musical talent, although "my granddad was a great one for singing songs and banging out tunes on the piano."
Since she joined the tour, which will stop in Salt Lake City for four performances Saturday through Tuesday, Sharpe has been struck by the spiritual feeling she gets when singing Celtic Woman songs. She does a solo on "Caledonia," the show's opening song, but her favorite is "The Blessing," which she says has a beautiful melody and lyrics. The message of that song, she said, is that "your blessing is with that person."
But it's a completely different experience singing a hymn, she said. "A hymn is like bearing a testimony."
Sharpe is on this tour of Celtic Woman because one of the regular members, Lisa Kelly, is on maternity leave. That opened the door for Sharpe, who got a call last summer asking if she would be interested in filling in for Kelly.
"I knew about the success of Celtic Woman and was thrilled to join," she said. "It was an opportunity I couldn't say no to."
Her musical background isn't confined to church. She started her musical theater career as Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" in Dublin. Other highlights include playing Janet in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show"; Eponine in "Les Miserables" for the Cameron Mackintosh Company; and Bernadette in "The Beautiful Game," an Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton musical.
She also had performed in cabarets and concerts with orchestras and small bands.
"I had a lot of really good experience," she said.
Life changed for her with the birth of her son six years ago.
"When I had my son, he became my passion in life," she said. "I tried to stay home and take work that wouldn't compromise my relationship with my son."
Touring does have its disadvantages, she says. Attending church meetings is difficult with the performance schedule.
"I lose track of the days of the week, and I can't believe it's Sunday," she said. "I really miss going to meetings. But I read the scriptures and read (church) talks on the Internet."
As the only Latter-day Saint on the Celtic Woman tour, she is looking forward to her days in Salt Lake City.
"I've got a lot of friends in Salt Lake," she said. "I'm hoping to get a lift to church with one of them."
Sharpe also hopes to take a couple of tour members with her to the "Music and the Spoken Word" broadcast at the Tabernacle.
"I feel like I'm coming home to Salt Lake City," she said. "No matter where you are in the world — small branches, big wards — it feels like family."
If you go
What: Celtic Woman — A New Journey
Where: Kingsbury Hall
When: Saturday and Sunday, 8 p.m.; Monday and Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.