Mary Ann Kennedy Biography

Mary Ann Kennedy

A Gael from multi-cultural Glasgow, Mary Ann Kennedy’s life has been one of music. From a revered tradition-bearer family, the Campbells of Greepe, her earliest memories are of a home filled with song. Mary Ann’s traditional roots were paralleled by classical music training, and she was part of the founding cohort of the UK’s first state-funded music school at Douglas Academy. She graduated in piano from the RSAMD and continued with a Master’s at the RNCM, concentrating on performance as harpist, and research into Gaelic mouth music. While in Manchester she joined Yehudi Menhuin’s Live Music Now! as its first non-classical musician, and the scheme’s principles of inclusion and accessibility to the arts remain with her. A brief diversion running the BBC’s Gaelic news service led to a career as broadcaster, presenting and producing radio and television over 25 years. Today, her broad portfolio is run from her Highland base, Watercolour Music, with husband and fellow musician-producer Nick Turner. Most of her music has been about collaboration - nurturing, chivvying and inspiring. A founder member of ‘supergroup’Cliar, All-time Best Album winners at the first Scots Trad Music Awards, she is also twice winner of the Lorient International Harp Competition, double National Mòd gold medallist, and Saltire Award winner for ground-breaking choral work, Lasair Dhè. She co-edited, Fonn(Melody/Land), awarded Gaelic Book of the Year, and the Arts & Culture prize at the first National Gaelic Awards. Her writing continues with publication of her choral works, Coireal. Following an inspirational year as musician-in-residence at the Gaelic college, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, she created Aiseag (Ferryboat) for the first PRSF New Music Biennial at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, featuring her beloved Inverness Gaelic Choir and musicians from Canada and Scotland. Recent commissions include an original soundtrack for BBC documentary ‘Càirdean Cogaidh’ (War Comrades); ‘Dusan’ (Dozen) - one of 8 duets with saxophone marking the 200th anniversary of Arnold Sax’s birth; test pieces for Mòd choral competitions; and ‘Aon Teanga’ (One Tongue) - a PRSF Beyond Borders commission celebrating the links between the three Gaelic nations.Other significant works include ‘Black Snow’, a site-specific installation for the 11th Antarctic Earth Sciences Symposium in Edinburgh, and an ongoing song writing partnership with poet,Aonghas MacNeacail. 2016 brought a residency in partnership with Nick Turner during the ‘Stepping Out’ phase of Aberdeen Music Hall’s refurbishment, and Beul na h-Oidhche gu Camhanaich (Mouth of the Night to First Light), for the 2016 Blas Festival. Discography is extensive as producer and performer, but after years of writing and recording, she is stepping forward as a solo artist, with two albums reflecting her passion for tradition and fearless engagement with new Gaelic music and songwriting. Her debut solo released through ARC Music on July 2017 is An Dàn (The Song/Destined)– a collection of her original music with lyrics by herself and some of Gaeldom’s greatest poets, including Aonghas MacNeacail and Angus Peter Campbell. Her next release will be Glaschu in 2018, a love-song to her Glasgow Gàidhealtachd upbringing

Mary Ann Kennedy reviews

““It is her delivery of the lyrics of others ... that really shine”” Keith Bruce, The Herald, Glasgow
“The musical arrangements are sensitive and beguiling, with the piano and string quartet accompaniment especially graceful and elegant” Paul Matheson, fRoots

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