Born in New Hampshire, Tennessee raised and living in Minneapolis, singer Chastity Brown cites influences of Dolly Parton and Mavis Staples.
Her music has also been shaped by genetics; her father was an African-American jazz/blues musician and her mother grew up in a large Irish family in Boston.
She describes her music as ‘Americana soul’ and there are aspects of gospel, roots, soul, jazz, blues and country in the mix, but also a hint of Celtic.
How much will be demonstrated when the highly-acclaimed singer songwriter plays at the award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival’s 20th anniversary in Stornoway next month.
She is increasingly learning more about Celtic music, having been profoundly affected by Van Morrison’s ‘Astral Weeks’ as a teenager and being introduced to Irish folk music through Sinead O’Connor.
“About 15 years ago, I heard a traditional song that she performed with The Chieftains and was mesmerized by the weaving of the story.
“It set me on my path to devour whatever Irish folk ballads I could find.
“I’m not as familiar with Scottish music, but have met some incredible local musicians while touring, one in particular is (Glasgow singer songwriter) Daniel Docherty. I’m most certainly keen on exploring more, especially at the HebCelt festival.”
Audiences here caught on to Chastity’s music and added to her ever-expanding fanbase after her fourth album, ‘Back-Road Highways’ was the first to be given an official UK release and the following year she made an appearance on the Later With Jools Holland TV show.
The Master Plan appears to be on course then?: “Yes, one could say that. The Master Plan has always been to write songs and share them with people; it’s a simple desire really. I am profoundly grateful that it has taken me this far.”
So, does she feel she is now where she thought she would be, say five years ago?
“Yes and no. Five years ago I think I was still naive about myself, the world, and the music business. Some of the things I thought I wanted I have realised play into a capitalist-driven culture and not to my core values of living simply and practicing being present. I’m not where I thought I would be, but I’m in the right place.”
Chastity’s appearance at HebCelt will bring her to a new audience and it’s something she is relishing: “Playing festivals is a great opportunity to play for a larger audience.
“In addition, it’s a chance to develop friendships with musical peers that are doing the same thing as you...writing songs and traveling around to play them for people.
“It can be exciting and daunting. The beauty of a festival (if it’s outdoors) is that audiences have more freedom and are not confined to a space. In my opinion, it creates a cool atmosphere.”
The Hebridean audience will hear songs from her back catalogue and possibly those from a forthcoming album, due out in the autumn, and for which she has been writing over the last 18 months.
Inspiration for her writing tends to come from many directions; a new book, the first days of spring, the birth of a child or even a man shouting in the street.
“Ideas for songs come to me wherever I am. There is no particular formula for me. I wish that there were.
“I write every day. Some songs never make it past one round of singing, while some I may sing over and over at home but never feel they are strong enough to let ‘em out of the house.
After the current tour, Chastity and her band will be back on the road in November to promote the new album, but she also has plans to swap her guitar for some household instruments to deal with domestic matters: “Intermittently, I will spend some time with a saw and hammer by taking some wood working classes to learn how to build cool and functional pieces like chairs and shoe racks.”
This year’s HebCelt, runs from 15-18 July tickets for all events during the festival can be bought at: website