George Donaldson had been the face of the band Celtic Thunder since he joined in 2007, but now the 46-year-old has died after suffering a massive heart attack.
Donaldson died Wednesday at his home in Glasgow, Scotland. The self-taught musician joined the group Celtic Thunder six years ago after auditioning for producer Sharon Browne, and served as the principal singer since then.
Donaldson was remembered as an accomplished flute and guitar player whose love of Celtic music came from his late father Bernard. The late George Donaldson said one of the greatest achievements of his life was playing for his father at the Celtics opening match of the 2000 season at Celtic Park in Glasgow.
Though his influences came from Scotland, Donaldson also appreciated finding new styles and sources of inspiration.
His personal website noted before his death:
“George has a great love and fondness for meeting ‘real people’ from all over the world, finding out about their stories and their lives. He believes there is a ‘song’ in everyone. On his many musical journeys through Europe he discovered a great fondness for Germany, the culture and it’s people. Spending numerous nights in post-show discussions with the locals, he has become an eternal ‘struggling’ student with the language. It was through these late night sessions that the seeds of ‘the White Rose’ were sown.”
George Donaldson died after taking Celtic Thunder to international fame, with sold-out shows across Europe and North America including St. Patrick’s Day parades in Boston, Chicago, and New York City. The group also played for President Obama and the First Lady at the St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the White House.
His work was not limited to Celtic Thunder. Donaldson also had a successful solo career, winning Irish Music Awards in 2011 and 2012.
When news that George Donaldson died reached the internet, fans brought an outpouring of support and condolences to his family, which included wife Carolyn and a 13-year-old daughter, Sarah.