About Me

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Isle of Canna, Scottish Highlands, Highlands, United Kingdom
I am a Gaelic singer living in the Highlands.I have produced 4 CDs - the most recent being "Archipelago- Songs of the Scottish Islands in Scots 7 gaelic""released on the Greentrax label. The other Cds are " A Good Suit of Clothes- emigrant Songs" "Duan Nollaig" - a unique Gaelic Christmas double CD( also on Greentrax, 2007) and "Orain nan Rosach" ( 2006). Since May 2015, I have been lucky enough to be working as the Canna House archivist on the Isle of canna, for the Nationl Trust for Scotland, looking after the incredible folklore archives fo John Lorne and Margaret Campbell.I look forward to keeping you up to date with my music, gigs, news www.fionamackenzie.org Tapadh leibhs! Thank you!

Monday 26 November 2012

Gaelic Song, Kilmarnock Edition and lots more!

Gaelic Song Update- I've been away for a while but decided I should really get back to Blogging and tell you what I've been up to recently!

2012 has been a busy year for me, musicwise. I've not only recorded a new solo album 'Archipelago', again on Greentrax Recordings but I've just released a new album with the band "Kilmarnock Edition" too. "Archipelago" is a unique recording of Songs of the Scottish Islands sung in Scots & Gaelic and visits some of the less well known islands of the Scottish coastline. The cover image is of St Kilda , or Hiort, in Gaelic. 

 I even get the chance to sing in the ancient Northern Isles tongue of Norn. It was a fascinating project to work on and one with which I learned a lot. It was produced by David Lyon of Greenock, an amazingly talented and conscientious musician and producer. He is the husband of Yvonne Lyon , who also sings with Kilmarnock Edition.

I was delighted to be nominated in the Gaelic Singer of the Year category at the Scots Trad Music Awards this year- a tremendous honour, particularly given the talent amongst the other singers in the category. The results will be announced at the glittering ceremony in Fort William on December 8th this year. The whole event is a fantastic celebration of the good things that go on inthe world of Scottish Traditional Music throughout the year.

Kilmarnock Edition goes from strength to strength and we celebrated the launch of our album 'Pay It Forward' on Friday Nov 23 at the Scottish Music Centre in Glasgow. We now look forward to our Celtic Connections debut in January in Glasgow . Hope to see you there!

In the meantime I will be busy working on my Mackay Country Song Residency, which looks at the history and effect of social migration within Sutherland. My residency is entitled "Dachaidh" or "Home" and examines what 2Home" means to different people.

Delighted if you like to leave any comments of questions here abut anything I have written about.

Thursday 15 April 2010

Gaelic in the News today- Gaelic Medium education a parents right?

An important debate for Gaelic took place today in the Scottish Parliament. Should every parent have the legal right to have their children receive a Gaelic medium education?
I have been in the lucky position of having that option for my children to e educated through the medium of Gaelic- our local school provided that option for us, at least for child 2 and 3. But we had to fight for it. And it has been worth every drop of sweat, blood and many tears. I have no hesitation in recommending GME for any family- not only because of the cultural and linguistic benefits but also for the more broad mainstream education benefits. Learning another language opens a childs mind, they soak things up like no adult can. It is easier for a child to learn another language, that has been proven.
So this whole debate is not just about the economics of the matter- we shoudl also remember that the heart of any populace is formed by the identity of a People- and if we dont have our languages and cultures, then we are missing part of our identity - that which forms who and what we are. We must remember also that we are LUCKY to have our own indigenous language - so many countries have lost that, their own tongues submerged by English. There are economic benefits ofr Gaelic too of course- tourism for one, with the many 1000s of tourists who ocme to Scotland to soak up that Gaelic culture.
So for that culture to survive, there has to be education - and it has been proven over and again that children who have come through GME suffer NO ill effects from not learning to read and write english till they are in p3/4. Indeed my sons kept abreast - and overtook- their mainstream peers in more than one subject- in primary and secondary education.
So please, support GME- we're lucky to have that option - please dont waste all the time and effort by so many parents over the years, including myself, who have fought to have that right.

Monday 12 April 2010

Music going back into the Community.

Tonight I was asked by local music entrepreneur Rob Ellen to go and sing some Gaelic songs at The Acoustic Session evening at the Strathpeffer Coffee Shop.- in particular some Songs from Ross-shire. Rob has been working very hard at establishing these regular acoustic sessions in the area, over the last few months and it is a great way for local audiences to get to listen to some fantastic artists from near and far. Tonight featured Australian 'folk diva' ( her words not mine), Janette Geri , on tour throughout Scotland and Ireland. Not a singer I have known before tonight but a singer songwriter with great guitar and vocal skills. The first set was by talented local young singer songwriter Mary Ann Frew and it is just venues such as this, that give artists like Mary Ann the ideal opportunity to hone and develop their performing skills. And thats something which is too often sadly lacking in comunities these days. Small comfortable, friendly venues which are not intimidating but allow the artists to showcase their talents with no pressure. This series of events is run on the North American 'house concert' style and in this instance, no alcohol on sale, but good old fashioned coffee, tea, home baking, soup and sandwiches- just like the old Taigh Cheilidhs ( house ceilidhs) of days gone by. Professional PA ensures reasonable sound and the intimate nature of the venues mean the place feels full with an audience of 'bijou' qualities.
Its commendable too that these venues really do bring acoustic music back into the Communities,as it used to be. Music of good standard, unusual acts to the area as well as giving local musicians more opportunities to try out new material perhaps.
Heres hoping that Rob managed to spread his model to more communities and bring more artists to local audeinces. Run on a showstring , its a great idea and one which local audinces should a) know more about and b) support. Its not easy to get an audience out on a MOnday night in the Dingwall area but the Coffee Shop had every table occupied. Watch out for more relaxing and very interesting evenings coming up soon.

Gaelic Song for today -Mi le m'uillinn by Karen Matheson-

Saturday 10 April 2010

The small town football team with big time aspirations- Ross County!!!!

Woo hoo! Can you believe that our local boys from our wee town in the Mid Highlands have actually achieved what wasn't thought possible...taken on the might of the Celtic side, thrashed them ,in great style, in a great football match and made it to the final of the Scottish cup! Incredible. But its true. Dingwall has 5000 population but 7500 folk made it down to Hampden today to support them! I have never seen Dingwall High St so deserted- poor stall holders for this months Farmers market! My daughter Katie was at Hampden too and she said that she'd never seen so many Dingwall folk in one place- not even in Dingwall! And as for my son Kenneth, well he's beside himself with excitement. He was busy day being filmed for a programme for BBC Alba about 'Football Nuts', and if there was ever a day for a TV company to film something really interesting and exciting then today was it! When I spoke to him,half an hour after final whistle, he was so excited , he couldn't even speak English let alone Gaelic!

Siuthadaibh a bhalaich! Thats he way to go Lads- Go on The Staggies! Roll on the final next month at Hampden- sure the world that the wee team from Dingwall cant be written off yet!

Song of today- Dean Cadalan Samhach- Sleep Peacefully. From Kintail, a lullaby,

Friday 9 April 2010

Just because its in Gaelic doesn't mean its traditional......

I've been getting increasingly disillusioned with the view in certain quarters, influential quarters, about Gaelic and Gaelic Song. Too often I have had to overcome the stumbling block of the view that because something is sung in Gaelic, that it must be traditional - Gaelic=Traditional, and ne'eer the twain shall meet. This, to me, typifies something which will hasten the end of the Language- a language which I have been struggling, in my own small ways, to help survive over the last 15 years. If the language does not absorb new influences and styles it will not advance, it will not survive. There is noone who has a greater respect for the language and culture than myself and I deeply love the 'tradition' but I also recognise the importance of moving forward. The future of any culture is the Youth and that Youth has be offered a choice of cultural styles and influence- they may love the 'old stuff' but they must also be offered the New. And too often , I have been battered down or saying this, for trying to offer a new direction, whilst retaining the Respect. And Im afraid that often, the reason for this is that I am regarded as, and always will be, a Nouveau Gaidheal, a new Gael, someone who 'doesn't belong' - because I dont have a Gaelic Family Past. However, I have created this for my children- they all now have a 'Gaelic Past' and are all heavily involved, and enjoying the language and Culture- and THEY are the important ones, the ones who will carry the language forward.

So I will contintue to fight for the language and culture in my own small way, sing my old songs but also look at new ways of getting young folk involved, in a way which is relevant to them...

Let me know your comments, please!

Sorry for the rant but its something I feel very strongly about.

Im also going to start giving you a daily recommendation for a Gaelic Song of the Day. Today Im going to be a bit narcisstic and give you one of my own favourites. Hope you enjoy it! Its a true story, a song of Unrequited love- You Are Alive in My Soul. From my album 'A Good Suit of Clothes'. http://www.last.fm/music/Fiona+J+Mackenzie/_/Tha+Thu+Be%C3%B2+Nam+Anamsa+%3D+You+Are+Alive+In+My+Soul

Tapadh leibh- have a good weekend!

Monday 5 April 2010

Scotland's close relationship with Andalucia!

Did you know that Scotland actually has a very close and historically important connection to Andalucia? Have you heard of the town of Teba? No, well, you should. Teba is a small town not far from Ronda , high in the Andalucian hills. It was here in 1330, that King Alfonso x1 was endeavouring to take the town of Teba from the occupying Moors. It so happened that the Scot Sir James Douglas, better known as Black Douglas was travelling on The Crusades, taking the heart of King Robert the Bruce, to give cheer to the soldiers. As he travelled through Spain, he lent his armies support to King Alfonso. During the battle , Black Douglas was killed but not before he threw Bruce's heart into the midst of the Moor forces, in a silver casket. The casket was retrieved and returned to Melrose Abbey. The following year the Earl of Selkirk also engaged the Moorish forces in Teba and left behind a slab of marble which now is incorporated into a large monument in the middle of the towns square.
It is a very strange feeling to come across this little piece of Scotland in the middle of the Andalucian plains- especially when you arrive on the exact anniversary of the battle....Aug 25th.... without knowing beforehand, the exact date.........

Sunday 4 April 2010

A Gael in Spain stays Mainly on the train......strikes allowing...

Getting organised for the Gaelic Song & Language course I am running in Andalucia, Spain , at the end of this month. 'Gaidhlig Thall Thairis' takes place in the tiny village of Juzcar from 28 April to May 2nd and myself and Rhoda Meek will be teaching Song and Gaelic in surroundings more likely to house the odd flamenco dancer or finca owner, than a shivering, white faced person with a distinctive accent reminiscent of jute mills or the Byres Road in Glasgow...........

But before we can get there , we have to GET THERE.......and thats not always easy from the Scottish Highlands. It takes me longer to get to the airport to fly to Malaga, than it does for the actual flight. Folk in the South sometimes forget how difficult travel can be for us- my travel plans over the winter, to gigs, concerts etc have been interrupted on several occasions because of a) weather and b) strikes. Life is costly enough these days without losing several £s because of missed journeys. Also , dont forget that the likelihood is that I will have had to go 'down' the night before and stay in a hotel just to avoid any danger of a traffic delay or flood, pestilence and all the other reasons Farce Railscot give for delays......... So that budget flight has suddenly assumed proportions equal to a first class ticket toMelbourne.... Watch this space......

Gaelic Phrase for Today - I am fed up of it! Tha mise seachd sgith leis! pronounced- Tha mishuh sh-ach-k ski laysh!