Julie Fowlis – Scotland’s Gaelic Ambassador

Gaelic folk singer Julie Fowlis releases her new album Uam on March 9th (Cadiz Music/ Shoeshine Records). Now Scotland’s official Gaelic Ambassador, musician-scholar at the world’s only Scottish Gaelic-medium college, and extensive world traveler, Fowlis explores new roles, allowing her to bring a new worldly sense to her traditional music.

M ‘fhearann Saidhbhir

Brogan Ur Agam A-Nochd

I feel the cool salty wind blowing strongly against my frame as I look over the cliffs of Inis Mor outside the mighty stone walls of Dun Aengus.  This is no death-wish standing close to the edge on this naturally cobblestoned rock pavement of the table-land.  My only wish is to soar like the gulls as they catch the up winds that caress this rugged coast.  One senses the deliberations and the conflict that took place in this fortress as they waited determinedly for the enemy ships from unknown realms. This music reminds me of all the glory of Ireland; one magical facet of the jewel of the Celtic lands.   Here is a picture from my Celtic adventure.

Fowlis herself has played a part in reforging that chain, one she now wields with the force of channeled tradition. She grew up on the Hebridean island of North Uist off the Scottish coast among people who valued the songs that connected them to their history and to their daily tasks like raising livestock, making cloth, and finding pleasure where they could. With Gaelic song in her ear from childhood, Fowlis’s beloved island was home to her first teachers, several of whom gave her songs on Uam and join her in singing them. And as a young woman, she brought Uist’s songs first to a newly self-aware Scotland and then to the world.

Today, Fowlis brings a new and worldly sense to Uist’s songs. This evolution is thanks in part to her new roles, as musician-scholar and 21st-century traditionalist. With years of folklore already under her belt, she is now enrolled at the world’s only Scottish Gaelic-medium college, where she is studying for an MA in Material Culture and the Environment.

Then came her latest role: Fowlis is Scotland’s first official Gaelic Ambassador to the world. When Fowlis was named to the post by the Scottish Government, she recalls, “I asked them, what were my responsibilities? They told me, ‘Just keep doing what you’re doing.’”

~ by castleqwayr on February 17, 2010.

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