Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Interview with Kyle Carey, Gaelic Americana

OutlanderHomepage Originals 

Kyle Carey, Gaelic Americana.... 

When you sing like an angel and speak fluent Gaelic, it's not a difficult decision to sing the ancient songs of the Scottish Highlands.

For this beauty (who we met and were drawn to by her charms), The Gatherings at the Scottish and Irish festivals and all their Celtic traditions, is as natural a match, as Jamie and Claire are at Frasers ridge.

On January 24th The Celtic Connections presents, Gaelic meets Gaelic Americana, with Gillebride MacMillan and Kyle Carey among other artists, at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow Scotland, which will be attended by our own administrator Liz Mercado. (also a manager of some of the talent performing) She will be posting a blog of the events from the concert, some time in February, when she gets back to New York City..

For tickets, if you are lucky enough to be in Scotland, click

Kyle Carey's Biography :
Tomorrow’s First Light
Acclaimed singer/songwriter Kyle Carey has taken folk music traditions she describes as “two branches of the same tree” and grafted them together into something uniquely her own.

“Kyle Carey represents an interesting crossroads of Celtic Americana (which she refers to as Gaelic Americana),” wrote Art Ketchen in Celtic Beat in June, 2013. “In her gentle, modest way she represents both a well-traveled path, but also an innovation.”
Poets, painters, and sculptors also walk paths that bring them to crossroads of tradition and innovation. A folk musician doesn’t necessarily need to go adventuring through those crossroads. The folk tradition itself is beautiful enough, substantial enough, relevant enough to bear repeating as it is. You choose your genre and just ride it.

But the best and most adventurous—like Kyle Carey, for example—assume the weight of that tradition and make it new all over again. Ketchen notes that some Celtic purists find this upsetting. “But that is what makes her such a valuable artist,” he continues. Carey stands at a crossroads, and from there sings old songs that are entirely Celtic, completely American, wholly something else besides—and as new as tomorrow’s first light.

And who could be more comfortable in that crossroads than one of those rare Americans who actually speaks the language of her Gaelic ancestors, and is fluent in it? The daughter of schoolteacher parents, she spent her early years in the Yupik Eskimo villages of the Alaskan Bush, immersed in that other northern language. While at Skidmore College, she waited tables at the legendary Caffé Lena in Saratoga, NY, and earned a Fulbright Fellowship to study Gaelic and traditional fiddle styles on Cape Breton.

That was followed by a two-year sojourn on the Isle of Skye, where she cemented her command of Gaelic. There she also fell under the tutelage of Christine Primrose—a native of Lewis and one of Scotland’s most respected traditional singers—from whom she learned the secrets of pronunciation and tone that distinguish singers like Primrose in their performances of the old songs.

Carey’s 2011 debut CD, “Monongah,” was recorded in western Ireland and produced by Donogh Hennessy of the Irish acoustic super-group Lùnasa. She was backed by Pauline Scanlon (Lumiere) and Aoife Clancy (Cherish the Ladies) on harmony vocals; Brendan O’Sullivan (Gràda) and Cape Breton’s Rosie MacKenzie (the Cottars) on fiddle; Appalachian expert John Kirk (Quickstep) on mandolin and banjo; and Trevor Hutchinson (the Waterboys, Lùnasa) on double bass.

The album shot to #8 on American Folk DJ charts, and made too many best-of-the-year lists to mention here. Most of its songs are original and in English, their subject matter ranging on one level through the present and the history of rural America, Canada, the British Isles; on another level through the busy crossroads and winding byways of the human heart.

“Drawing from both the American and British folk traditions, the songs, including some very fine originals, are beautifully crafted and performed,” wrote Jeremy Searle in R2 UK. “Her voice is soft and gentle without ever descending into tweeness, and the sparse backing, largely acoustic guitars and fiddles, is haunting and moving. ‘Magical’ is the mot juste for this album. Assured, confident, charming, and irresistible, it sticks to the CD player like glue, as does the finger on the ‘repeat’ button.”
“Though many of my songs contain themes of longing and immigration,” says Carey herself, “the most important thing about my music is its mix of Celtic and American Appalachian styles—which in the end are really just branches of the same tree. I think the most exciting music comes from the crossing of cultural and artistic boundaries.” The World Music Network is among the many who agree: “Kyle Carey,” said a label spokesman, “represents the true vision of a transatlantic artist.”

Carey’s eagerly anticipated forthcoming CD, “North Star,” has been produced by Seamus Egan, a founding member of the Irish-American folk super-group Solas, and is supported by a cast of musicians (Dirk Powell, Natalie Haas, Chris Stout, Josienne Clarke, Ben Walker) no less brilliant than those on “Monongah”. And what to expect on this one?

“I think what makes this album most different from ‘Monongah’ is the subject matter of the songs,” Carey says. “I’ve introduced some love songs—some fictitious, and one in particular that’s highly personal. I think, too, the Gaelic/Celtic and American mix of this album is more fully realized—through the musicians we chose to bring on board, the various recording locations (Scotland, Ireland, New England, and Louisiana), and the careful thought we put into each song’s arrangement. Seamus Egan, being Irish-American himself and with a background working with both singer/songwriter and Celtic musicians, was the perfect fit for my sound.”

It’s a sound composed of equal parts of what’s tried-and-true and the unprecedented results of reformulating the old in new and imaginative ways. Kyle Carey represents an interesting crossroads indeed—one that spans the Atlantic, and has already commanded a hundred stages on both sides of that pond.

Among those stages, of course, is that of the Caffé Lena, where once she was hired help—but listening carefully, soaking it all in, and now making it new again. Website and listing of future appearances and for Newsletter.

Excerpt of Kyle's Newsletter 


OutlanderHomepage spoke to Kyle, asking her about what makes the Celtic Music so alluring for her. With her CD's as popular to the Celtic fans as Bear McCreary's scores are to television audiences, we had to find out how this lady was drawn to the Scottish Highlands, Ireland, and to the festivals we all dream of attending for our love of Outlander..

Where did you grow up? Was your house hold a Celtic "familiar" one? As
I've told you, my dad is from Ireland, our day to day lives
were very related to how he grew up, so I'm wondering if that was the same
for you, which would explain your vast knowledge of the Celtic ways and
what brought you to learn more of the culture as an adult and love it as you do..

I spent the first seven years of my life in Alaska actually. My parents went up to teach in Yupik villages in the tundra, and I grew up speaking both English and the native Yupik language. I think this later helped me to learn Scottish Gaelic - in the some of the sounds are quite similar. My father in particular has always loved Celtic and folk music, and also plays guitar, so I grew up hearing a lot of that music in the house. I started to sing around the same time I started to talk - and according to my parents, I was always very drawn to music. When I turned seven my family moved to New Hampshire and I spent the rest of my childhood there - in an artistic town up in the mountains where folk music was a big part of the community.

OutlanderHomepage :
When did you become interested in the Gaelic language? As you mentioned
you spent quite a while in Scotland and months learning the language on the
Isle of Skye, can you tell us about that? What was your journey like? You said you'd been to Ireland too, (and pronounced the area my dad is from, perfectly, which I do not.)

I became interested in Gaelic when I traveled to Ireland for the first time during my sophomore year at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs. I heard Irish Gaelic being sung at a session and fell in love with the language. A few years earlier, I'd also found one of my father's old folklore texts from his Harvard years - a book called 'The Islandman' by Tomas O' Crohan. The book was originally written in Irish and made me want to visit West Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula - the area where O' Crohan had lived. As luck would have it - the trip I went on also stopped off in Dingle, where I learned of a study abroad program I could take in the village. I subsequently applied and spent eight months of my junior year living in Dingle and learning Irish.

After graduating from Skidmore, I went up to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia on a Fulbright Fellowship to study traditional music, and started learning Scottish Gaelic when I was there - which I didn't mind as both Irish and Scottish Gaelic are so closely related. I grew to love Gaelic and learned about the Gaelic college on Skye - Sabhal Mòr Ostaig while in Cape Breton, and applied to go there next. I was granted a scholarship and after leaving Cape Breton, I traveled to Skye and spent a year there immersed in Gaelic. It was a wonderful experience - very challenging at times, but I knew that if I wanted to accurately sing in the language - I needed to learn it fluently and make it a part of my life. I also relished the opportunity to study singing with Christine Primrose - a beautiful Gaelic singer from the Isle of Lewis who was very generous in her knowledge and expertise.

OutlanderHomepage :
You teach the Gaelic language now. How did that come about? Do you know
Adhamh O’Broin? (Gaelic advisor for the Series, Outlander.) Please go to her website for details of signing up as a student.

After leaving Skye, I went back to Ireland where I recorded my first album, 'Monongah' in Dingle. That was five years ago, and since then I've tried to find as many ways as I can to make my rather unorthodox lifestyle sustainable. One of the answers has been teaching Gaelic, which allows me to support myself when I'm not touring, and also allows me to share the knowledge of a language I love. The Skype lessons are ideal in that I can teach from anywhere, and have a bit more flexibility in my scheduling. What's more - it keeps the language fresh in my mind, as I'm continually learning from my students as well. I don't know Adhamh but we have lots of mutual friends and acquaintances and I've heard lovely things about him. It warms my heart to hear so much Gaelic on Outlander!

OutlanderHomepage :
You are beautiful singer, which came first for you, the love of music or
the love of Celtic music, which then drew you to your singing career?

That's a great question - I think my love of music first brought me to singing, and then the interest in Celtic and folk came later. Singing has always been very intuitive for me, so much so that I don't actually remember learning how to do it. One thing too I find fascinating is the art that can come from areas where cultures combine. In that sense, exploring the Celtic roots of American folk music, and learning Gaelic, has allowed me to develop a sound that's uniquely my own, a transatlantic mix I call 'Gaelic Americana'.

I so enjoyed these questions Dorianne! Please let me know if there's anything else you'd like to know/might need and thank you so much again for this - I appreciate the time and thought you've put into this.

Le gràdh.

Kyle Carey's melodic songs, can be purchased on this link..

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