The Gathering is full circle for me. I started singing publicly with a song by Robert Burns, went on to do videos for YouTube, performed pop, blues and reggae live in Edinburgh, and now I am releasing my debut album of Scottish folk music.
The whole process sort of fell together. :) While gigging with Doc Rodent, our dirty blues band and also with Curious Earl, our indie rock band, I was often told that I should sing more folk music. And then I started performing that music for Prestonfield House in Edinburgh.
Together with my partner Richard Dunn who is my producer (as well as guitarist, backing vocalist and all around band) I have recorded 12 songs from traditional folk music which I love. Each song has its own special story for me:
Caledonia by the superlative Dougie MacLean is a song I first sang at a memorial service for a friend and is dedicated to him. A donation to a charity in his memory is made for every album sold.
Wild Mountain Thyme has always been a tricky one for me but now doing it as a duet with Richard I am happy with it. It is also one of the songs I sing at Prestonfield.
Amazing Grace is a family favourite and I wanted to do it stripped back, without the usual riffs. I also chose to sing an often forgotten verse by John Newton which, I think, makes sense of his feelings of remorse better than any other.
Ae Fond Kiss, though very traditional, is a really pretty love song and I always wanted to sing it. Robert Burns is a man for all seasons and his poetry is as current today as it was then.
Jamie Come Try Me is another Robert Burns song which I spent a long time with. It is very simple but it is not. With Richard's guitar acting as beat I think it is perfect.
The Dark Island is typical of Scottish folk music and is all about homesickness. It is about Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides but it can be about any childhood home dear to the heart. David Silver penned the words for a 1963 film of the same name.
Mhairi's Wedding is my song. Well, for my wedding. It features Richard whistling among other things. A bit of fun really. ;)
Loch Lomond tells the story of a killed Scottish soldier who cannot return by the high road and must take the low road in order to return to Scotland. However he mourns the fact that he will never see his lassie again.
Massacre of Glencoe is by Jim MacLean and made famous by The Corries. It tells the tale of the act of treachery by the Campbells against the MacDonalds, their hosts. I sing this six times a week but I still feel the sadness.
Peggy Gordon, really a Canadian folk tune, is a song I first encountered as sung by The Secret Sisters with The Chieftains. Another great version is by The Corries who gave it that typical Scottish twist which is why I love Scottish music.
Red Red Rose by Robert Burns is my second duet with Richard and, of course, is another love song. Or- poem actually.
The last song, Winter It Is Past, is also by Robert Burns. Though not well known it is among my favourite for a variety of reasons but mainly for the tune. It is so pretty.
I had immense help from Richard in this and also want to thank my family for being so supportive throughout the production. And I want to thank you for taking the time to read about my passion.