Kyle Carey at EFC / Edinburgh FC
Kyle Careys story is as worldly as her music, raised by her schoolteacher parents first in the Alaskan Bush (where she heard Yupik Eskimo spoken as often as she heard English), and then in rural New Hampshire. She studied literature in college, and then travelled to Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia on a Fulbright Fellowship to begin her study of the Gaelic language and its music. Carey is one of those scarce-as-hens-teeth Irish-Americans fluent in the language of her ancestors.
That was followed by a two-year sojourn on the Isle of Skye; there she cemented her command of the Gaelic language and fell under the tutelage of Christine Primrose, a native of nearby Lewis and one of Scotlands most revered traditional singers. From Primrose she learned the secrets of pronunciation and tone that distinguish those who sing from the deep heart of that music.
In Kyle's original material, however, she breaks new ground in her ability to make that style the pulse of a new American sort of folk music. The essence of that revolution lies in the real distinction Carey draws between Celtic Americana, i.e. the well-traveled path of American musicians performing in the style of traditional Celtic music, and the Gaelic Americana that she writes and performs. Her music is innovative not only in its bone-deep feel for Celtic tradition, but in all that she is able to graft on to it by way of a personal vision as capacious as the North American continent.
The Americana portion of this synthesis has been plucked variously from bluegrass, gospel, and Appalachian ballads and fiddle tunes; in the lyrics from personal experience, Appalachian folktale, Dustbowl narrative, the Old and New Testaments, Greek mythology, and the rough-hewn poetry of West Virginias Louise McNeill.
There may well be a well-travelled path for folk music in these transatlantic lanes, but no one has done it like Carey, to shift into reverse, to go back to the graves of her ancestors, to learn the language they spoke, the songs they sang, and to use this knowledge in creating a new sort of American folk music, one that continues to cross boundaries, to forge alliances.
The Pleasance Cabaret Bar (View)
Edinburgh EH8 9TJ
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