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> Catherine-ann Macphee, World Reknowned Scottish Gaelic Singer
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Keltic 
Posted: 06-Feb-2005, 10:47 AM
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ZodiacWillow

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It's funny how you can live somewhere and not realize what or who is in your neighbourhood. Reading this mornings newspaper here in Ottawa, Canada, I found out that the person who is heralded as "the finest gaelic singer in the world", lives in my neighbourhood. Doing and internet search on the name, "Catherine-Ann MacPhee" brings up an endless number of articles and links.

From the Ottawa Sun, February 6, 2005
QUOTE
Gaelic legend who lives amongst us

Earl McRae talks to Catherine-Ann MacPhee, international singing star
By EARL McRAE, Ottawa Sun

In the amber light of a dying wintry day, a front door opens on a quiet street in Kanata and there she is, lovely as the island from whence she came, her eyes and skin as clear and pure as its never-ending wind from the sea. She who has been living amongst us in anonymity since 2001; she who is a superstar; she who has travelled the world to great acclaim from Europe to North America; she who is from the village of Eoligarry on the isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides off the northwest coast of Scotland; she who is Catherine-Ann MacPhee; she who is heralded as The Finest Gaelic Singer In The World.

I mention that the greatest legend of my music visited Scotland for an hour in March 1960, and she raises her eyebrows: Rock 'n' roll has never been her subsidiary taste.

While she has chosen to downsize her career since emigrating to Canada with her husband Angus, a computer software designer, and their children Mairead, 13, and Alex, 11, she is still present for her worshippers through her CDs, recently recording her first in Ottawa, Suil Air Ais, (Looking Back), for her British label. Last November, the BBC flew her to England to sing just one song -- testimony to her fame and greatness.

GAELIC REVIVAL

Gaelic, the traditional language of her people, is undergoing a revival. There are Gaelic-immersion schools in Scotland, and its history and music is perpetuated through Scottish immigrants around the world and growing numbers of Gaelic societies, including one here in Ottawa.

Growing up on remote Barra with her sister, brother, and father who was a sailor, and mother who was a nurse, Gaelic was the only language spoken, and for many of the island, still is.

"My village was renowned for its Gaelic singing. The doors were never locked, and people would just drop in, and there'd be talking and singing, and then the ceilidhs would start and go on and on. I was six before the island got electricity. I didn't learn to speak English until I went to school."

Cathy-Ann, as she prefers to be called, was a gifted, natural singer. She sang in the village halls and quaint hotels, on the tourist ships in the harbour, and the word got back to the mainland about the young girl with the voice of an angel.

A professional Gaelic musical/ theatre group in Glasgow, Fir Chlis, recruited her, and three years later, another: The 7.84 Theatre Company, and now she was touring all around the world -- one stop, in the late 1970s, Sydney in Cape Breton, N.S.

PACKED HALL

"We came to perform There Is A Happy Land, the story of the Gaelic people and how they had to leave. We were to do only one show and fly back to Scotland, but a friend said she wanted us to perform the next night in Iona with a strong Gaelic population.

"On a moment's notice, handwritten notices went up on walls there the next morning -- 'Tonight! Bring All Your Friends!' -- and that night in the little village hall, it was so crowded you couldn't move, and people were crying because this was their story.

"Cape Breton looked so much like Scotland. So beautiful. I was among my own. These were my people. I decided that one day I would move to Cape Breton and make it my home. When the kids finish college, I will -- a little house on a hill."

When Cathy-Ann, now 45, met and married Angus, they moved from Edinburgh back to Barra. "I wanted my children, for a few years of their lives, to have what I had." But, she never forgot Canada -- having performed across it several times -- and convinced Angus they should emigrate. With Cape Breton not providing the opportunities in his field, they came to Ottawa.

Devoting herself to her family, home, and relative privacy, Cathy-Ann MacPhee, the first lady of Gaelic song, still performs when asked. She can be reached at [email protected] and it is also the way to locally buy her CDs of Gaelic songs that proliferate stores in the U.K. and Cape Breton.

She plays for me some tracks on one of them, backed by the genre's best musicians in the world. "My God," I say, "you should be singing in concert at the NAC." Before leaving, I ask her to translate something for me into Gaelic. She laughs.

"Choinnich Elvis ri na caraidean aige aig port adhair Prestwick air a rathad dhadhaigh as an airm sa Ghearmailt," she writes in my notebook. Elvis met his fans at Prestwick airport on his way home from the army in Germany.

[email protected]




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Haldur 
Posted: 06-Feb-2005, 07:31 PM
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ZodiacWillow

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Wow Keltic, that is wonderful! It's exciting to know that the biggest Gaelic singer in the world lives right around your corner! I'll have to get some of her music. smile.gif


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WizardofOwls 
Posted: 06-Feb-2005, 07:59 PM
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ZodiacVine

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Thanks Keltic! I've heard of Catherine-Ann, but have never actually heard any of her music! I've always wanted to though, since I love Gaelic singing! I need to find out more about her music!


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Slàn agus beannachd,
Allen R. Alderman

'S i Alba t́r mo chridhe. 'S i Gàidhlig cànan m' anama.
Scotland is the land of my heart. Gaelic is the language of my soul.
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Keltic 
Posted: 07-Feb-2005, 11:33 PM
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Mairimhor 
  Posted: 14-Feb-2005, 05:36 PM
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Shes a lovely lady , with a lovely voice! her latest album is beautiful too - 'Suil Air Ais' - 'Looking Back', on Greentrax label. biggrin.gif
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