Catrìona’s a class act for this year’s festival

Singer songwriter Catr�ona McGhie who hails from Stranraer.
Singer songwriter Catr�ona McGhie who hails from Stranraer.

A young Stranraer singer songwriter will perform alongside two of Scotland’s traditional music giants at this year’s Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival.

Twenty-two-year-old Catrìona McGhie will open concerts with Mary Ann Kennedy and multi-award-winning musical trio Talisk in two shows taking place this week.

Catrìona said: “Mary Ann is someone I have been aware of for most of my life and, although I am quite nervous about sharing a stage with such an amazing and well-known Gaelic singer, I am very much looking forward to the concert.”

“I have included a Gaelic chorus in one of the songs that I hope Mary Ann will appreciate. I wanted to reassure her that the language is still very much alive with young people in the south of Scotland.”

Catrìona will be singing songs from her new album Òran, meaning “song” in Gaelic, which features songs from the three places in Scotland that she identifies with - Dumfries and Galloway, Perthshire and the Highlands.

She explained: “My mother is a MacLeod from the Isle of Lewis. There are a lot of pipers in her family and I was brought up with music in the Gaelic tradition. A third of the tracks on the album are Highland songs, interpreted my way.

“I studied a BA (Hons) in Popular Music at the University of Highlands and Islands in Perth and grew up in Dumfries and Galloway where I still live.

“These places I consider to be ‘home’ and the album reflects the traditional music culture from all three.”

One of the Dumfries and Galloway songs on the album is called Solway Harvester and was written by Catrìona’s father Ian McGhie who is originally from Whithorn.

Father and daughter play in a band the Cl’yholers who will perform the opening set for Robyn Staptleton and multi-award-winning Scots trad trio Talisk at the Ryan Centre, Stranraer, on Friday, 1 June.

Catrìona was nominated for a DG Life award last year and met Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival’s producer Lou Davies at the ceremony who persuaded her to become a member of the festival’s Young Promoters group: a collection of young people from across the region set up to promote and host year-round performing arts events in a new project called STAGE iT. The project is supported by EventScotland Year of Young People Events Fund and the Holywood Trust.

Catrìona said: “I am really pleased to be part of this group and be able to influence the future of performing arts in the region.

“I love Scottish traditional music but don’t feel it is as well supported in Dumfries & Galloway as other musical genres. My mother was attending traditional cèilidh dances 25 years ago in the Highlands and they are only just beginning to take off here. I often wonder why it has taken so long for these very traditional musical gatherings, unique to Scotland, to get to the south.

“Our traditional music is so diverse in form and style, from beautiful ballads to lively dance music. In Dumfries and Galloway, we have some of the best traditional musicians right on our doorstep, such as Robyn Stapleton, Gavin Marwick, Claire Hastings, Emily Smith and Aaron Jones, who are all working hard to deliver our musical culture to audiences across the south. I am delighted to be playing a small part in that.”

Tickets to both shows are available from the Midsteeple Box Office 01387 353383, Wigtown Festival Company 01988 403222 or online from www.dgartsfestival.org.uk