Mary Ann Kennedy is the 2013 Musician-in-residence (Ceòladair air Mhuinntearas) at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college of the University of the Highlands and Islands on the Isle of Skye.
Dubbed Scotland’s ‘First Lady of World Music’, Mary Ann Kennedy has been surrounded by music all her life. Her earliest memories are of her mam’s folk group rehearsing in the front room at nights, and of Gaelic songs all around her in the close-knit Glasgow Gaelic and Highland communities of the 70s. She is part of the younger generation of one of the great dynasties of Gaelic song, the Campbells of Greepe from the Isle of Skye. She also trained intensively as a classical musician, and was a founder pupil of the first state-funded specialist music school in the UK.
She studied at the RSAMD in Glasgow and at Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, where she was the first harpist ever to be given the college’s highest performance award. She is a double Mòd Gold Medallist at Gaeldom’s premier festival of language and music, and twice winner of the Concours International de la Harpe Celtique in Lorient, France. She is the recipient of a Saltire Award for her groundbreaking Gaelic choral work, ‘Lasair Dhè’, and continues to work with the award-winning Còisir Ghàidhlig Inbhirnis (Inverness Gaelic Choir).
Mary Ann spent several years working for, and latterly running, the Gaelic news service of the BBC before leaving to concentrate on her own music. Her career now combines both passions – music and broadcasting – and she is one of the most highly-respected performers and commentators on the Scottish music scene, championing the place of Scotland’s burgeoning contemporary talent in the global roots firmament. Her profile as a world/roots music presenter on radio and television was recognised in 2007, when she was named ‘Radio Presenter of the Year’ at the international Celtic Media Awards. She currently presents the Friday night ‘World on 3’ on BBC Radio 3.
Mary Ann is also in demand as a music producer – she directed the music for the award-winning BBC TV series on Gaelic song, ‘Aig Cridhe ar Ciùil’ and has produced albums for many other singers and musicians. Her work is based at the residential recording studios and creative retreat developed by herself and husband Nick Turner at Watercolour Music in the Scottish West Highlands. Current projects include the debut album for BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year, Rona Wilkie and duo partner, Marit Fält.
Mary Ann was a member of the highly-acclaimed Gaelic band ‘Cliar’, winners of ‘all-time’ Best Album at the inaugural Scots Trad Music Awards. Her current work concentrates on a major book and album project, ‘Fonn’, showcasing the music and history of her mother’s family, the Campbell singing dynasty and an album celebrating Glasgow’s immigrant Gaelic song heritage, to be released in 2014.