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Gaelic music has long been one of the shining gems in the crown of the Scottish traditional music scene, but 2007 was the year that it finally and deservedly broke through into the national mainstream, largely due to the success of a new wave of young Gaelic musicians. Now 2008 looks set to further cement the burgeoning optimism of the tradition with yet more exciting music about to be unleashed from Gaeldom’s younger generations.

Mary Ann Kennedy has long been a major beat in the heart of the Gaelic and traditional music scene in Scotland and beyond. A proud Gael of many talents she is a double Mòd gold medal winner and musician, as well as an award-winning national radio and TV broadcaster, producer, writer and record label owner. Now she has brought together, and is an integral part of, what she terms a “gathering of Gaeldom’s young lions” – inspired singers and musicians all – under the banner, ‘Mary Ann Kennedy & Na Seòid’.

Translated, Na Seòid means ‘the heroes’, and although the word ‘supergroup’ is perhaps all too often bandied around in the music world nowadays, on this occasion no other terminology seems apt. Mary Ann and the other seven young male (yes, male) members of Na Seòid are all heralded as impressive talents in their own individual rights and already between them account for many of traditional music’s highest accolades.

Perhaps what’s most remarkable or at least unusual about the group is that for many years Gaelic singing was largely seen as the domain of the female gender. Now, after many years where there very few young men seen on stage singing, a new, young, confident and flourishing generation of male Gaelic singers are at last making a significant impact on the national scene. What’s more, the leaders of the pack are to be found in the ranks of ‘Na Seòid’.

The cast is a powerful and geographically widespread one. There’s James Graham from Lochinver, the first Gael to win the prestigious BBC Scotland ‘Young Traditional Musician of the Year Award’ in 2004 and Lewis singer Norrie McIver who is currently studying at the RSAMD and vocalist with the award winning group ‘Bodega’. Then there’s Tormod MacArthur from Inverness, the 2006 Seann-Nòs Gold Medal winner for traditional singing.

There are gold medal winners galore in the line-up with two MacMillan double gold medal winners in Gillebrìde MacMillan from South Uist (currently based in Spain) and Calum Ailig MacMillan from Lewis. >From Tiree there’s Angus MacPhail, part of the heralded West Coast band ‘Skipinnish’ and last but certainly not least there’s Griogair Labhruidh, a multi-skilled talent from the Gaelic music world in general.

The group were first unveiled to great acclaim at last year’s Blas Festival in the Highlands, and such was the success of that particular outing that they have now agreed the group should become a more regular entity.

“What’s unique about this group of musicians” said Mary Ann, “is not only the male dominance for once, but the fact that Gaelic is part of the everyday life of every single one of them, not just a language for the stage. I think that’s a powerful element, which in turn has a fundamental impact on the way they perform the music”.

Mary Ann Kennedy and Na Seòid have just recorded their debut album for the Lochaber-based ‘Watercolour Music’ record label, set for release at a very special concert on the final night of Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival. The concert takes place in the Strathclyde Suite of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

The album is unusual in itself, in that it was for the most part recorded live in the studio, in the round, with whole takes, no edits, no digital ‘assistance’. “It’s the real thing” said Mary Ann. “It was certainly ‘high-wire’ recording, but it brought a particular feel and tension to the recording session and to the resulting sound. That was really important to me”.

Following on from the album release and Celtic Connections concert, ‘Mary Ann Kennedy and Na Seòid’ will be undertaking further live appearances throughout 2008.

With a gold plated line-up of this kind and quality and with such a range of vocal, instrumental and creative talent to hand, ‘Mary Ann Kennedy and Na Seòid’ will more than fulfil the promise of being one group that should not be missed. Prepare yourselves for some fantastic voices and equally fantastic songs and arrangements – and then some! Mary Ann Kennedy and Na Seòid look set blow another fresh breeze (or dare I say Gael) through Gaeldom and further afield.

‘Mary Ann Kennedy and Na Seòid’ are now available for interviews both individually and as a group. To arrange an interview or for further information on the group, the album or the concert contact:

Davie Gardner
Atlantic Edge Music Services
Tel: +44(0)1595 695675
Mobile: +44(0)7867 654 509

The album will be available soon from

Permalink - Posted: January 31, 2008 at 12:10 pm