This year we will welcome two highly sought-after instructors in Scottish Gaelic song and language: Wilma Kennedy and Màiri Britton.
Wilma is an award winning singer and actress who hails originally from Glasgow but whose family roots are in Skye and Tiree. She is a native Gaelic speaker who has sung for as long as she can remember and most recently sang with her family as part of “The Campbells of Greepe.” With them she recorded two albums and contributed to the family book
“Fonn: Music and a sense of place in a Gaelic Family Song Tradition.”
She is one of only a few singers who has won both Gold and Traditional Gold Medals at the Royal National Mod. Her passion for sharing and teaching songs is evident in her career both as a former Gaelic Song Tutor at the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music and as conductor the Dundee Gaelic Choir for 12 years.
Wilma retrained to teach Primary School children through the medium of Gaelic and even taught her own daughter for 2 years. Both mother and daughter lived to tell the tale! She currently teaches pupils from age 5-11 in a multi-composite class.
She loves teaching her pupils songs as a way of telling social history and also for pure enjoyment. Wilma is particularly interested in waulking songs and sang for many years with the Glasgow Waulking group Bannal.
Her family are recognised as experts in puirt-a-beul and she will definitely be sharing a few puirt. Most recently she has become interested in the songs collected by Frances Tolmie in the 19th Century as her mother, Kenna Campbell, has been re-editing Tolmie’s book “One hundred and five songs of occupation.”
Wilma is very much looking forward to coming to Grandfather Mountain’s Gaelic Language and Song Week.
Màiri’s love of the Gaelic language was sparked through attending her local Fèis at the age of five, and it has shaped a journey from her hometown of Edinburgh to the Hebrides, Ireland, and now to Nova Scotia where she teaches Gaelic at St. Francis Xavier University.
In her new home of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Màiri balances university teaching with running community Gaelic classes and immersion days, using the locally developed “Gàidhlig aig Baile” methodology. She is also manager of the Nova Scotia Gaelic song project, “Language in Lyrics” (www.languageinlyrics.com), at Cape Breton University. She spends as much time as she can visiting local Gaelic elders in in the province to learn from their store of songs, stories and cultural wisdom.
A Gaelic singer, step dancer and harpist, Màiri has performed and taught workshops and summer schools in Scotland, Ireland and North America. She is lead vocalist and step dancer in the Gaelic trad group Fàrsan, alongside Elias Alexander (pipes, whistles, vocals), Katie McNally (fiddle) and Neil Pearlman (piano, accordion, step dance). The group released their debut album at the end of 2018 to critical acclaim (www.farsanband.com).