Inside a five thousand year-old burial chamber on Orkney Isle off northern Scotland, there is runic graffiti left by Viking raiders. The place is called Maes Howe, and the graffiti includes such observations as, "Ottarfila carved these runes,” “Helgi bedded; Thorni carved,” (stronger language originally used!) and, "Ingigerth is the most beautiful of all women.” I find these comments immensely reassuring; it means that over the centuries, human nature hasn’t changed at all. We’re still all about sex and bragging . . . and bragging about sex!
Those runes were a way of recording a small piece of the story of those ancient adventurers; fundamentally, humans are all about stories. Song also serves to “fix” people’s stories. Rhyming lyrics laced into the cadence of a song have, for perhaps thousands of years, kept these old moments in history or memories of lost love (and yes, sex) alive.
My father loved stories and often talked of our Scottish heritage. He never saw Scotland, but he was proud of telling me we came from a family of pig farmers in Ayr, where Robert Burns was born. Though my mother was the musical parent who gathered us around the piano for family singing, it was Dad who brought home the album of pipe bands and ballads that struck a romantic chord in me I have never stopped hearing. I loved the keening of the Great Highland pipes, but most of all I was haunted by the unaccompanied singers, whose voices insistently reached right into your heart.
Some of these love songs are very old. They are timeless in their pain, joy, dismay, or humor, and that’s what I like about them. They are not merely the songs of my father’s Scottish ancestors; they are the voices of the universal human condition.
“Lord, lord, lord. Celia, what an incredible voice you have! The music on this (CD) is just lovely. I highly recommend this; the tunes and songs are well selected; obviously each song means a great deal to you.” --Ray Edlund, KPFA
"A singer I’ve not heard before, Celia Ramsay . . . I’m really impressed by what I’ve heard of this album; she sings with a really very Scottish inflection." --Roland Goodbody, WUNH
"...These are mostly love songs, and Celia has a lovely voice...an interesting collection, sung in a classical style for the most part, with phrasings and inflections from the Scottish dialect. It's an enjoyable collection." --J.W. McClure, Victory Music