Karen Matheson Biography
Widely recognised as the compelling vocals of Celtic super-group Capercaillie, Karen’s life in the limelight began with her performing as a child in her local village hall in Argyll on the West coast of Scotland, where she was brought up immersed in the deep well of traditional songs that have been her inspiration for over 30 years of recording and performing worldwide. Fast forward to last summer, where her stunning rendition of ‘Ae fond kiss’ stole the show at the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth games in Glasgow, to a televised audience of over a billion people. As a solo performer, Karen has been involved in various projects of collaboration worldwide including the award winning BBC series Transatlantic Sessions, where over the last decade she has filmed tracks with artists like James Taylor, Emmylou Harris, The McGarrigle Sisters, Nanci Griffith, and a host of respected Scottish musicians. Her many collaborations include Algerian singer Idir, Breton guitarist Dan Ar Braz and Portuguese star Dulce Pontes. She has produced four acclaimed ‘solo albums – ‘The dreaming Sea’, ‘Time to fall’, and ‘Downriver’ from 2004 - a beautiful acoustic affair which provided the perfect platform for the mesmerizing vocals. 2015’s Urram is a musical love letter to her families’ Hebridean roots, with a collection of timeless Gaelic songs that evoke the character and atmosphere of Island life, through waulking songs, love songs, lullabies, mouth music and evocative poems to the surroundings. The sound of the album is engagingly contemporary in it’s ambition though, with guest musicians including Seiko Keita (Senegal) on African kora, Soumik Datta (India) on Sarod, Scotland’s McFall’s chamber on strings, Innes White & Sorren MacLean on guitars, and long-term musical partner Donald Shaw on Piano. With Capercaillie, described as: “the most exciting and vibrant band in the field of Celtic music today” (Billboard), Karen has enjoyed a stellar career. Capercaillie have sold more than a million albums, performed in over thirty countries and written and starred in the blockbuster movie ‘Rob Roy’, with Liam Neeson and Jessica Lange, in which Karen performed a solo rendition of a Gaelic lament. In December 2010 she was presented with an Honorary degree in music from the Robert Gordon University – another achievement to add to her OBE and award of “Best Gaelic singer” from the inaugural Scottish folk awards - just some of the many plaudits earned from an astonishing career.
Karen Matheson reviews
“...has the ability to inject pure emotion into a song. The kind of voice that can leave you shell-shocked.” The Sunday Times
“...remarkable in English but breathtaking when she draws on Hebridean roots to sing in Gaelic.” The Daily Telegraph
“Karen Matheson has a throat that is surely touched by God.” Sean Connery