Internationally-acclaimed singer Julie Fowlis will return to her native Hebrides to star at the islands’ biggest music festival in its ‘coming of age’ year.
The North Uist performer, who has graced stages around the globe, from village halls in the Highlands to theatres in Paris and Vienna, London and New York, will be joined by her band in the main arena at the 21st Hebridean Celtic Festival next summer.
HebCelt confirmed today the line-up for the 2016 event will also include American band Hayseed Dixie, famed for their ‘Rockgrass’ cover versions of hard rock songs, as well as multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer John McCusker and his band during his 25th anniversary tour.
And, in line with the festival’s policy of supporting and showcasing emerging talent, it will also feature Orkney four-piece Fara and folk trio Talisk, who were both nominated in the Up and Coming Artist of the Year category in the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards last weekend.
HebCelt will run from 13-16 July in Stornoway in the island of Lewis and will be headlined by Scottish rock legends Runrig who will top the bill on the closing night.
Julie Fowlis, one of the first inductees to the HebCelt Hall of Fame and an ambassador for the event, will perform on Friday, 15 July.
Last year she sang live at the opening ceremony of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games to a TV audience of over 1 billion people and she also achieved worldwide recognition for singing the theme song to 'Brave', Disney Pixar’s Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA-winning animated film, set in the Scottish Highlands.
She also won the Tartan Clef Award for Music in 2014 and was nominated as Folk Singer of the Year at the 2015 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, and Best Artist at the Songlines World Music Awards 2015.
She last performed at HebCelt in 2012 with her acclaimed film and musical work, Heisgeir, based on the history, people and landscape of the uninhabited Monach Islands.
Julie said: "Coming from the Outer Hebrides I have always been excited about playing at HebCelt. It is a highlight of the year for me and I am particularly looking forward to returning there for the 21st festival.”
Hayseed Dixie, who hail from the Appalachian Mountains, combine guitar, fiddle, mandolin and banjo in a unique fusion of bluegrass and rock. They made their debut in 2001 and since then have played over 1,100 live dates in 31 different countries. They have also released 15 albums in that time, consisting of both original material and reinterpretations, selling a combined total of over 500,000 copies.
Their latest album - Hair Down To My Grass – was recorded this year in a converted barn and includes re-workings of rock classics such as Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin’, Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’, Europe’s ‘The Final Countdown’ and Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ On a Prayer’.
Bellshill-born John McCusker joined the Battlefield Band at 17 and during his 11 years with the legendary outfit released his first two solo recordings. He went on to win Radio 2 Musician of the Year in 2003 and also The Spirit of Scotland Award for music in 1999 and again in 2009.
John has been a member of Mark Knopfler's band since 2008, playing arenas around the world, including a double bill with Bob Dylan at The Hollywood Bowl and 20 nights at The Royal Albert Hall.
He has featured on recordings by Mark Knopfler, Paul Weller, Ocean Colour Scene, Teenage Fanclub and Idlewild, written soundtracks for film and TV and has produced albums for the likes of Kris Drever, Idlewild’s Roddy Woomble. Eddi Reader, Heidi Talbot and Linda Thompson.
John will mark 25 years as a professional musician in 2016 by publishing a book of his compositions, releasing a new solo record and embarking on an extensive UK and European tour.
The John McCusker band features some of the finest traditional musicians and singers in the UK, including Andy Cutting, Adam Holmes, Innes White & Toby Shaer.
Fara bring together Kristan Harvey, Jeana Leslie and Catriona Price’s dynamic fiddles with Jennifer Austin's driving piano. Having played in groups in their native Orkney, the girls later went to study in the UK mainland and hold degrees from The Royal Academy of Music, The Royal Northern College of Music, The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Strathclyde University.
They have since established themselves in the Scottish music scene and have individually or collectively picked up a BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award, a BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year award, The Deutsche Bank Award in Performance and Composition, and a Danny Kyle Open Stage award at Celtic Connections.
Talisk - Mohsen Amini (concertina), Hayley Keenan (fiddle) and Craig Irving (guitar) – were only formed in August last year but have already landed slots at some of Britain’s biggest festivals, including Cambridge Folk Festival, Celtic Connections and Fairport Convention’s Cropredy Festival. They also won the coveted Danny Kyle award this year.
Festival director Caroline Maclennan added: “We are delighted to welcome Julie Fowlis back to HebCelt. She grew up with the festival and has played a major role in its success and growth.
“As an artist of international standing now she is an inspiration to singers and musicians who play in the Gaelic or traditional genres.
“We are also thrilled with the other bands we are announcing today. Hayseed Dixie are a superb live act with a combination of great musicianship and fun cover version that will be a big hit with our audience.
“Fara and Talisk are both exceptional bands and among the best young acts around at the moment. We are always enthusiastic about encouraging young talent and providing a platform at HebCelt to help their development.”
HebCelt has grown from a small event attracting less than 1,000 fans, to an international showpiece for Celtic and traditional music, generating more than £20 million for the local economy over two decades.
Last year, it marked its 20th anniversary by hosting its biggest number of live performances ever with more than 50 hours of music and arts events staged in the main arena in the grounds of Lews Castle, as well as an Lanntair arts centre in the town centre and other venues in rural areas.
Audiences included visitors travelling from throughout the UK and Europe as well from the US, Australia, Japan, Canada, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.