A village of culture and heritage at the heart of the Semple Heritage Trail
March 13th - 24th
The Friendly Festival
Widely recognised as the compelling vocals of Celtic super-group Capercaillie, Karen Matheson’s life in the limelight began with her performing as a child in her local village hall in Argyll on the West coast of Scotland, where she was brought up immersed in the deep well of traditional songs that have been her inspiration for over 30 years of recording and performing worldwide. Fast forward to last summer, where her stunning rendition of ‘Ae fond kiss’ stole the show at the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth games in Glasgow, to a televised audience of over a billion people.
Her new solo album (October 2015) is a musical love letter to her families’ Hebridean roots, with a collection of timeless Gaelic songs that evoke the character and atmosphere of Island life, through waulking songs, love songs, lullabies, mouth music and evocative poems to the surroundings. The sound of the album is engagingly contemporary in it’s ambition though, with guest musicians including Seiko Keita (Senegal) on African kora, Soumik Datta (India) on Sarod, Scotland’s Mr. McFall’s chamber on strings, Innes White & Sorren MacLean on guitars, and long-term musical partner Donald Shaw on Piano.
As a solo performer, Karen has been involved in various projects of collaboration worldwide including the award winning BBC series Transatlantic Sessions, where over the last decade she has filmed tracks with artists like James Taylor, Emmylou Harris, The McGarrigle Sisters, Nanci Griffith, and a host of respected Scottish musicians. Her many collaborations include Algerian singer Idir, Breton guitarist Dan Ar Braz and Portuguese star Dulce Pontes and the late Pete Seeger.
She has released three acclaimed solo albums. For ‘The Dreaming Sea” & ‘Time to fall” many of the songs were written by acclaimed singer-songwriter James Grant (Love& Money) and feature James on guitars along with the Scottish Ensemble on strings. On “Downriver” from 2004 she worked with Ireland’s legendary producer Donal Lunny to create an award winning acoustic album, which provided the perfect platform for her mesmerizing vocals.
With Capercaillie – “the most exciting and vibrant band in the field of Celtic music today” (Billboard), Karen has enjoyed a stellar career. Capercaillie have sold more than a million albums, performed in over thirty countries and written and featured in the blockbuster movie ‘Rob Roy’, with Liam Neeson and Jessica Lange, in which Karen performed a solo rendition of a Gaelic lament.
In December 2010 she was presented with an Honorary degree in music from the Robert Gordon University – another achievement to add to her OBE, and award of “Best Gaelic singer” from the inaugural Scottish folk awards – just some of the many plaudits earned from an astonishing career.
“Karen Matheson has a throat that is surely touched by God’’. – Sean Connery