Many who regard Rona Lightfoot as a top-class piper may be surprised to learn that she is also an accomplished singer.
Macmeanma have just released Rona's new album, 'Eadarainn' which features some excellent piping, as well as many songs that have not been recorded before.
Cailean Maclean praises the CD, describing it as 'a delight', and also tells of Rona's many talents.
Says Cailean: “One of the reels Rona sings on this CD is entitled 'Eadarainn'. Edward Dwelly, the doyen of Gaelic lexicography, defines 'Eadarainn' as 'between us' and, as such, the word perfectly reflects the intimacy and accessibility the songs and music Rona performs on the CD.”
He points out that Rona has been described as a 'ceilidh' personified.
“She is a great piper — in fact, with one or two others, Rona blazed the trail for women competing at the highest level and is credited with being the first of the fairer sex to win a major piping competition. She is also a hugely talented singer and a veritable treasury of traditional Gaelic songs,” says Cailean. “What's more, Rona is a terrific raconteur with a great sense of humour and an infectious laugh. This, Rona's first CD, brims with testimony to her abundant talents and I am sure that, as you listen to 'Eadarainn', you will also get a sense of what a great character she is.”
Cailean also points out that Rona's talents came down to her through the many generations of celebrated pipers, singers, and storytellers which adorn her family tree.
“Rona's most immediate musical influence was her mother Kate, who was one of the most remarkable singers and tradition-bearers of her age, and Eardsaidh Rghnaill, her father, a piper and seanachaidh of renown. The family home at Gearraidh Sheilidh in South Uist was always friendly and welcoming. Taigh Eardsaidh Rghnaill was the closest thing I have known to a permanent 'ceilidh', with music, amusement and general 'diversion' going on, it seemed, whenever folk called there,” says Cailean.
He adds: “Rona's was a family and a household which cherished and fostered Gaelic traditional arts and 'Eadarainn' is a distillation of the cultural legacy which she inherited. This CD is not only a delight, but also an important part of the bequest which Rona is passing on to a new generation of singers and pipers.”
Among the tracks are 'Mo Nighean Chruinn Donn', 'Cuach Mhic Ghill' Anndrais', 'Ach a Dhmhnall Mhic Sheumais', 'Ille Bhain' and 'Eadarainn Mr Ruadh' as well as pipe tunes such as 'The Lost Feather Bonnet', 'The Quaker's Wife', 'Pipe Major John MacDonald's Exercise', 'Center's Bonnet' and 'Donella Beaton'.
Musicians who feature on the CD with Rona are Alan Henderson (piano, fiddle), Maighread Stewart and Annag MacInnes (backing vocals), Deirdre Graham (clarsach), Carol-Anne MacKay (accordion) and Iain MacDonald (Highland bagpipes, small bagpipes, concertina, flute, bodhran, Jew's harp, whistle)
The CD was produced by Iain MacDonald and recorded by Alan Harfield at Unity Studio in Auldearn.
'Eadarainn' by Rona Lightfoot, released by Macmeanmna (catalogue number SKYECD 28)