Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Gaelic Singers

Julie Fowlis
At Celtic Connections I have heard some of the most perfect Gaelic singers -
Karen Matheson, Julie Fowlis, Kathleen MacInnes.

They sing with pure tones in the lilting soft clarity.

I don’t speak any Gaelic but I appreciate the emotion in the songs.

Last year I heard yet another young Gaelic singer at Celtic late session -  Mischa Macpherson

Karen Matheson
Mischa Macpherson
It used to be that we were embarrassed by our Scots accents and the Scottish songs were portrayed as twee chocolate box White Heather club. It is so good to see Scots proud.

Dougie MacLean in an interview for the Herald spoke of his two grandparents who spoke Gaelic.
 When Dougie talks about the magic of songwriting, he knows what he is talking about  - his most famous song Caledonia - has become a music covered part of Scottish culture and has been sung by everyone from Frankie Miller to Ronan Keating.

"My grandparents were Gaelic speakers and my earliest memory is of my grandfather coming up from Dunkeld having had a few glasses of whisky and sitting in the kitchen singing his beautiful Gaelic songs, and the tears would be running down his face. In my family, singing songs was like eating, breathing and sleeping. I think Scotland has that desire to sing, because of that Gaelic heritage that permeates most of our culture.
"But to be able to sing, you need to have songs, and people have to write them. People here have long made their own songs, to sing in the fields or wherever. There's the wonderful traditions of, say, the north-east bothy ballads, of the Gaels making up songs for their work: it's only in modern times that you actually have the concept of the professional songwriter. It's sad we have lost that tradition, of people writing songs for themselves."