Newsletter January 2024

To continue on from my social media post, thank you for taking the time to click through to
the link and have a read – finally, my debut full length album!! A collection of songs, written
by Si Kahn, I have had the honour of being asked by the man himself to arrange and

CD Cover art “News” by Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis / design by Eddie at Fonts and Files

Photo credit Moniek Koolen

For a bit of background on Si Kahn, here is an extract from the CD booklet’s liner notes written by Si’s friend, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, John McCutcheon:

Si Kahn worked as a part of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the Southern Civil Rights Movement. He went on to be involved for almost 60 years in people’s struggles from Harlan County coal country to the cotton mills of North Carolina; from the wild salmon fisheries of Bristol Bay,
Alaska, to building community solidarity to resist the privatization of the prison system. All the while, he was writing some of the very best songs to come out of the American South.

Photo credit Janice Jo Lee

More about this and the recording process can be found in my last blog post, but to re-cap…
Si and I were first in contact back in 2019 after I recorded his song Mississippi Summer on
my EP Roe Deer, which you can listen to here:

It means a lot that this new album is being released in time for, and as part of Si’s 80 th
birthday celebrations in April this year.

After blood, sweat and many tears (because who ever said making music was supposed to
just be fun eh?) it really does feel like a huge achievement and all worth it to be holding the
CD in my hands! I feel excited to be sharing it with people and at the prospect of getting out
and about to perform the songs and promote the CD. Hooray / phew!

It is a relief to experience this sense of excitement because the last four years have been
bumpy. This project took a long time, involving plenty of inner rollercoaster moments.

I suppose making a first album of songs written by someone who lives in North Carolina,
recording it in The Netherlands with a team based over there, whilst navigating a move for
myself to another part of this country… I wasn’t making life all that easy. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, so they say.

Smiles after collecting box of CDs from Shrewsbury depot – not dwelling for too long on the hefty customs fees.

Thank you, Brexit.

Bring in the Light, is a collection of songs that I hope you will enjoy listening to and feel
moved by. I’m compelled to sing these songs during a time of so much painful conflict and
division in what appears at times like a very broken world. It can feel impossible to find the
courage to face the problems, injustice and suffering in society, the darkness and madness
of it all can be overwhelming. I think working as a musician and a music therapist can
certainly enhance these feelings however, I’m always grateful for and uplifted by the many
special moments when music – creating it, singing it, dancing and listening to it, and making it with others provides a source of light and brings joy to life.

I’ve tried to articulate this through my music on the album, from being inspired by the
stories of courageous people who feature in Si’s songs; activists, women, musicians, cotton
mill workers, miners, people facing oppression and conflict in parts of the world such as
Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, and the southern states of America. These songs, some of which Si wrote over fifty years ago are more pertinent now than ever. I’ve enjoyed exploring new sounds and ways of musically expressing myself through accompaniments on fiddle,
viola and piano and it was joyful to have the added sounds from Janos and Lucas with
double bass, banjo, guitar as well as harmony vocals from Sophie Janna.

Janos, me and Lucas / photo credit Moniek Koolen

All the emotions

and Skye as always wondering what all the fuss is about!

As John McCutcheon puts it so eloquently:
Bring In the Light is, truly, music therapy for a fractured, hungry world. It tells us to remember, to listen, to let go, to open up, to come together, to believe. And, in the end, like the last words of this wonderful, timely album, “People like you help people like me go on.

With thanks to John for those words and to Si, Pieter from Strictly Country Records, the rest of the team involved in making this album and to many of you who have offered words of support and encouraged me along the way. As ever, a big and heartfelt thank you to Mum and Dad, for everything.

Thank you for reading and I’ll look forward to sharing this music with you in the Spring, at a
folk club or festival and online in some shape or form. Watch this space and please do keep
an eye on my website and social media page for any updates – I do update now and then,
and it might go without saying but staying on top of my social media page is a New Year’s
resolution 

Wishing you well for 2024.

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