Singing has been a passion for me from a young age, but I didn’t receive any formal training and my early dreams of singing in a band remained unfulfilled. Frankie Armstrong first helped me find my voice through her natural voice workshops. Gilles Petit introduced me to Indian raga singing and improvisation, and set me on the path of becoming a singer and songwriter. It is with a sense of astonishment and delight that I ended up recording an album at this rather mature stage of my life. I am grateful to everyone who encouraged me in this.
I wrote my first song on a voice workshop with Gilles Petit many years ago now, and surprisingly songs kept on coming, some of them in mysterious ways. ‘Threshold’ emerged fully as I woke from a dream, others were responses to emotional experiences I had, like ‘Charlie’s Song’ after the death of my beloved cat, ‘Doni the Elephant’ after an elephant ride on Bali. ‘The Present’ describes an experience I had following my return from an intensely moving celebration of Chris Seeley’s life, an artist friend who had died six months earlier. She encouraged so many people to live an artful life, and this song is a thank you to this extraordinary woman.
Many of the tunes arose while improvising in a particular Indian raga or scale, and often the tune would come first, the words then arose from these melodies. The three German songs ‘Echoes’, ‘Friedrich’ and ‘What use can be this rain’ present another theme on this album. You will find more information about these in the tales. I dedicate these songs to Änne Renner-Meyer who wrote such passionate poems for my father in the late 1940s.
Living in Wales which feels very much like my home I have wanted to include some traditional Welsh tunes as well. Some years ago ‘Ffynnon Ofor’ was translated for me by my poet friend Morgan Francis to help me understand the Welsh words while he gave me a lesson in Welsh pronunciation (sorry Morgan if it still is a bit rough), and we discovered that it fitted so well into the rhythm of the song that I decided to sing his English version too. A big thank you to Morgan for his poetry, kindness and support.
‘The Selkie’s Longing’ arose from hearing a few versions of ‘Hiraeth am Feirion’, a traditional Welsh song about deep longing which the evocative word Hiraeth conveys. There are many tales of female seals who come to land and take on human form, sometimes even marrying and having children, but always longing for their true home, the sea. This is my version of such a tale and is quite different from the original Welsh song.