Case Study: Beyond Borders – Songs of Separation
In 2015 with the support of the PRS Foundation Beyond Borders fund, a collective of ten female folk musicians from England and Scotland undertook a sizeable challenge: to devise, rehearse and record an album of songs, rooted in their respective traditions, in just six days.
Taking their creativity beyond the boundaries of the studio, the musicians recorded songs at sites of ancient legends on the Isle of Eigg, Inner Hebrides resulting in a powerful collection of new music that explores the theme of ‘separation’.
The album launched in January 2016 and was met with critical acclaim with a 4 star review in the guardian and winning BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Best Album 2017.
Songs of Separation also embarked on a sold out tour collaborating with brilliant community choirs and exceptional professional musicians from Wales, Ireland and the Scottish Highlands. This was made possible with the support of cross border partners, The Convent, Stroud in England, Dumfries and Galloway Festival in Scotland and St David’s Hall in Wales for Festival of Voice.
“It was joyous, thought-provoking, passionate, stirring, charming and beauteous; but it had edge too.”
Colin Irwin, The Guardian
A highlight of this project was it’s ability to reach and engage with a range of audiences from workshops with local schools to global live streams and the collaboration with four guest musicians which enabled the music to be presented in English, Welsh, Scots, Gaelic, Norn to 1600 people in Cardiff.
“It was a sublime evening with a huge variety of beautiful music.”
Catching up with the creators:
“I recently won a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for ‘Best Original Track’ for a song that absolutely required my personal experience of Songs of Separation in order to finish writing and get recorded and released – it was the new found skills and confidence in my own ability as a songwriter (gained through SOS) that made me believe enough in the song! … The project has massively widened my knowledge of the Scottish traditional music scene and the fantastic musicians working in it”
“This project has been invaluable to my career and creative development and has helped to raise my profile on the UK music scene.”
“It’s given me a new direction: I now wish to continue to produce high quality music projects /products. There are so few women producers in the UK, particularly in folk music, and once I’ve had a wee breather, I’ll be back to it, to see if we can pull off ‘SoS #2”
Full biographies of musicians can be found here.
What happened next?
Due to the overwhelming positive response to the project, the idea of a Songs of Separation Residential, is being explored with separate retreats available for professional female folk musicians and those who play for fun!