Gaelic-Indian fusion group to play Celtic Connections

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The award-winning musical collaboration between Skye’s celebrated Gaelic singer Anne Martin and Manchester electro artist Jason Singh has taken another step forward.

From its humble beginnings over a kitchen table in the north of Skye, Anne and Jason, alongside three other internationally-acclaimed musicians, have become Lahira and will make an appearance at Celtic Connections this month.

Anne Martin is a renowned Gaelic singer.
Anne Martin is a renowned Gaelic singer. 

Entitled Ceumannan at its inception, the project began as an inter-cultural song venture in which the artists drew from parallels in the landscapes, storytelling of the Isle of Skye and northern India, and the complementary harmonic traditions of Gaelic and Indian Raga.

Out of their research, Anne and Jason co-created new musical compositions and performed them with acclaimed international artists Sharat Chandra Srivastava and Gyan Singh, and Manchester-based musician Joe Harrison-Greaves.

The project began with a conversation with Jason in Anne’s kitchen when he was visiting Skye in 2014. Atlas Arts found the funds to develop ideas and the pair travelled to India where they met Sharat and Gyan.

Last year, Ceumannan was selected as a winning commission for the New Music Biennial by the PRS Foundation and was given a 15-minute showcase at the Hull PRS Festival that year. The next step forward was to develop the project and ‘Routes’ was formed, making its debut at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, during the Skye Festival in July and ending with a concert at London’s South Bank the following week.

Anne is a well-respected cultural ambassador for the Gaelic language and West Highland culture and has travelled across the globe, most recently to Australia. She has made it part of her life’s work to put Gaelic culture on the international map and make Gaelic song accessible to all.

She said: ‘Through Lahira, we are trying to unravel what cultural identity is all about and how music provides a conduit through which to cross cultural borders through a common cause. Songs tell great stories and instigate conversations. Through our work, we look for our similarities, recognise our differences and bring our cultures together. We’re a’ Jock Tamson’s bairns, after all.’

Lahira (meaning ‘moving forward’ in Punjabi) explores a musical and historical odyssey, centres on shared background elements like harmonic song traditions, storytelling, land-rights issues and colonialism.

Anne said: ‘Lahira can definitely make a political statement. It is the culmination of a lot of time and effort and it has been a privilege to be involved with such depth of work and passionate people.

‘Every stage has been a journey for all of us and we have all been reassured and inspired to discover that, despite our cultural differences, we can produce cohesive pieces of work: a completely new sound with its roots very firmly planted in tradition.’

Lahira will perform at Glagow City Halls on January 21, alongside Keenan Gavin Byrne.

Anne added: ‘We are thrilled to be playing at this  year’s  Celtic  Connections. The band is delighted to have such a prestigious showcase.

‘This is a completely new and unique sound. The next stage is to record and tour with the distance between us all proving not to be a barrier, but a commitment to a longer term venture.’