The Highland Divas

interview: mTr / B.Seitz


Earlier this year we introduced The Highland Divas

In October 2016 The Highland Divas will be back Scottland:

A very good reason to do a little interview with The Highland Divas - our Artists of the Month October 2016.

Thanks for accepting our request as Artist of the Month, Marla Kavanaugh, Georgia Johnson and Margaret Kelly or just shorter The Highland Divas!

1. How would you introduce persons don´t know the The Highland Divas your band?


Georgia, Margaret, and Marla are The Highland Divas: three women from different parts of the world, with diverse musical backgrounds and a common heritage. These uniquely talented artists will take you on a musical journey that spans the folk music of Ireland, Scotland, and New Zealand, and culminates in the soaring heights of Rock Opera. It is a journey from the most achingly spare Celtic ballads, to the most thrilling, harmonized interpretations of popular and classical music.


We asked all three member of the Highland Divas, too:

 How would you introduce yourself to persons don´t know anything about you or for example The Highland Divas yet?


Marla Kavanaugh

I was born in Dunedin, New Zealand – “little Edinburgh” the largest Scottish settlement in New Zealand.  My mother was an opera singer. I grew up singing in harmony with my identical twin sister, Marissa. By time we were about 10 years old, we were very well known for singing in New Zealand and appeared on national tv shows and sang at international events in our hometown. In my early 20s, I moved to the USA and started singing as a soloist. First in Musical Theater and then in Opera. I traveled all over the US, and In Japan, The Netherlands & Australasia singing as a soprano soloist.  And, studied with major teachers & coaches in London, San Francisco and New York. I bring the more “classical side” to the Highland Divas.

Georgia Johnson

While Marla is often known as the Opera Diva and Mags as the Rock Queen I am often referred to by our fans as the Pop Princess. The most extraordinary thing about the Highland Divas is how dynamic each of our voices are from one another, yet when we come in to blend as a trio the harmonies are electrifying, we can feel it and our fans can certainly hear it. We are a sisterhood and are extremely bonded which often shows during our shows and through our music and our banter. It is what makes us stand out as a trio. That is our magic. 

Margaret Kelly

I am from Falkirk, Scotland and have been a “New Yorker,” for the past 12 years. I attended AMDA in Manhattan, and was able to stay in America by procuring an “extraordinary Artist visa.” Marla & I (and her identical twin sister, Marissa) founded The Highland Divas in a little restaurant in the theater district 5 years a go! We created the group so that we could really pour ourselves into music that was meaningful to us. We also wanted to  have more creative control over what we sang.

2a. What kind of music could fans hear on one of your gigs?


A variety of Celtic/Pop with a little classical feel ~ all bound together with strong harmonies.

2b.  The Highland Divas are singing Scottish songs, too. What is a typical Scottish song for you?


Marla Kavanaugh: A typical Scottish song for me, is “My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose,” which I sing in the show with Georgia, also “Loch Lomond,” “Ae Fond Kiss” are my favorite, traditional songs.


Georgia Johnson:

For me my favorites have to be The Skye Boat Song, Loch Lomond and any Robert Burns songs. Songs that I learned as a child, I sang in school and sang with my family they really are held dear to my heart and every time I sing them I feel like I am home.


Margaret Kelly:

One of my favorites is “Loch Lomond.” I also love any of Robert Burn’s poetry set to music. For example,, “Ae fond Kiss,” is a heartbreakingly beautiful song. There are a lot of fun Scottish songs. But by far the most beautiful are the songs about love and loss.



3. Could you tell us a little bit more about your past productions


The Highland Divas Presented: A Musical Crossroads – this was our first show. Combining all of the elements mentioned above. Combining our Scottish heritage with our different musical disciplines.

The Highland Divas Present: The Homecoming - A Musical Journey – in this show, we added in al little Maori music + we unabashedly return to truly Scottish music – but always with our distinctive, Highland Divas sound.

4. Where could fans hear and see The Highland Divas?


Right now the best way to hear us, is via our facebook page and our website: or through our live shows in New York and Los Angeles. We will be singing in Glasgow, Scotland at the Clyde auditorium in October, and at Carnegie Hall in September! This is actually the first time we’ve announced our “debut as the Divas” at this NYC iconic institution!






 5. Well I would guess that one of the answer of question 4 would be TARTAN WEEK. Could you tell us a little bit more about that event?


And yes, Tartan week! A celebration of all things Scottish in NYC. We have proudly represented Scotland & the diaspora in New York for three years running. It begins with the Tartan day Observance and celebrates Scottish culture through music/dance/highland games and gatherings for one spectacular week in NYC.

6. Did The Highland Divas released an album yet or are there any plans for the future to release an album? We have not released an album yet. Our focus has been on creating & performing our live show. However – we would happily accept a recording contract!



7. Singing together with Jimmy Fallon was ……….


Unexpected and a fun & wonderful honor! He showed up unexpectedly at our performance and brought such fun. He was also incredibly respectful of our talents and a great audience member

8. Is there any other colleague you want to sing with?


Hmmmm … there are different groups that we would pair well with. Possibly Celtic Thunder or Celtic Woman.


9. Could one of you play the bagpipes?


No! Although, Marla’s father played the bagpipes very well!

10. All three were so kind so answer the one or other question round about the musicians Marla Kavanaugh, Georgia Johnson and Margaret Kelly outside The Highland Divas.

1.      You are a “Kiwi” – born in New Zealand. Is there any connection between New Zealand and Scotland and which connections are there?


YeTThe South Island of New Zealand, was populated by mainly Scottish and Irish immigrants ~ apart from the native Maori population ~ of course! Dunedin city is based on the layout of Edinburgh. When I was growing up in Dunedin – many of the elders in the community still had Scottish, and not NZ accents! I was involved with the Burns society right up until the time I left home.

1.       I for myself meanwhile think about “The Songbirds”, “The Highland Divas”,  duets with

Daniel Rodríguez and of course the solo artists if I think about Marla Kavanaugh. Could you maybe tell us a little bit more about The Songbirds and the duets with Daniel Rodríguez?



Yes, of course. The “Songbirds” are my twin sister, Marissa Dikkenberg, and me! We still perform together when we’re in the same country! Marissa and Margaret and I, first wanted the Highland Divas to be the three of us … but Marissa just lived too far away, in beautiful Sydney, Australia. Marissa and I still sing at events in NZ and Australia whenever we get the chance. And, not too long a go ~ we did a huge tour of 116 cities all around the US, with Daniel.


Daniel Rodriguez, apart from being a very fine tenor – is my husband, and the father of my darling little girl, Alexandra! We still perform together fairly regularly and sing everything from old Broadway – inspirational – Opera. I made my Carnegie Hall debut with him, last year, Very memorable! I have slowed down in my solo work in shows lately – as I can’t fit in everything! But I enjoy my “moments” within the Divas/Marla & Daniel shows/Songbirds shows to do my own thing.


I read somewhere that you are a not just a singer also a Dancer Actress. Could you explain what a Dancer Actress is? Is it something special for musical acting? Or did someone just forget to post a comma between Dancer and Actress?


Haha I think this was a missing comma mistake. I am a trained Singer, Dancer and Actress and focused mainly on Musical Theatre. I toured for a year with Shout! The Mod Musical and was in the Off Broadway production of Girls Night the Musical before joining the USO which started my journey of performing in trios.

Could you tell us a little bit more about Mrs Peaches Pepperwand


I run a “Fairy School” workshop for children called “Believe Fairy Academy” and it is all about inspiring self-confidence and imagination through creative play. Mrs Peaches Pepperwand is the headmistress of this school.

You worked in different musicals productions yet. Do you have a favorite musical and / or a favorite musical character?


Oooh, that’s hard. I think my stand out roles have been Grizabella in “Cats,” & Fantine in “Les Miserables.” I also had the thrill of singing in a new, off –Broadway musical last year called, “The Hereafter.” It was a very meaningful experience for me.

Could you tell us a little bit more about the Broadway Sessions? I just found some videos on YouTube with your gigs at that show – is it a show?

Broadway sessions is an evening of musical performances and open mic and features a new Broadway guest start each week!



11.. Anything else The Highland Divas want to tell their fans? We are thrilled to have your support, and hope to reach all the corners of the world that our fans reside in. Thank you for your support!




Any message you – Marla Kavanaugh- want to send to your fans?


I want my fans to know … that whenever I sing – not only am I trying to sing with all the beauty I can muster ~ but, I’m endeavoring to connect with you & somehow speak to our common experience ~ no matter where in the world we’re from. It’s the highest compliment to me – if people are moved by my singing. And, to have “fans” at all, by simply doing what I love – is such an amazing thing!



Any message you – Georgia Johnson- want to send to your fans?


We are beyond grateful for all of the support that we have received as The Highland Divas, our fans are loyal and always encouraging and supportive and we couldn’t be more blessed for having them on our side. We built the Highland Divas ourselves from the ground up and we could not have done that without our fans. So thank you for always and continuing to believe in us.



Any message you – Magareth Kelly- want to send to your fans?

A huge thank you for the interest in our music! We love what we do and are thrilled that people want to listen! Please keep following The Highland Divas!




Link Sharing with

"SONGS & WHISPERS" from Bremen is a live - music and artist development network
"SONGS & WHISPERS" from Bremen is a live - music and artist development network
DAP, Hamburg
DAP, Hamburg
Official HP Ian Stenlake
Official HP Ian Stenlake

Icons made by Yannick from is licensed by CC BY 3.0