Twa Magicians Animated Video by Eleonore Dambre

Many things are troubling me on a personal, social and political level at the moment, and many of these may trouble you as well: division and the tendency for “them/us” thinking; violent responses to gender identity, sexual orientation, race, and faith; inequality, oppression and intolerance; knife crime; poverty; social media and its impact on people’s body image and sense of self; consumer culture and fast fashion; addiction and compulsion; climate change, pollution and waste; grief and loss  – and the frenetic pace of life, work, and the overload of information/misinformation that’s currently available to people living in first world countries.

I’m aware, given this context, that it may seem like I’m living in some kind of artsy bubble, to be releasing an animated video based on a traditional Scots ballad about two shapeshifters at this time. But traditional songs and stories capture something timeless that speaks to the human condition – to here, and now. And in the re-telling, I can (as folk have always done) adapt/rewrite the story/my story/history/her-story.

As described in the Last Leaves of Aberdeen Ballads and Ballad Airs, where a fragment of the lyric was written down, “Twa Magicians” is a tale “of a blacksmith who importunately woos a lady. To escape him she turns herself by magical power into many shapes…but the suitor has the same chameleon faculty, and contrives to counter each metamorphosis by another that fits it.”

One thing I’ve found myself repeating (to myself, and to others) in several contexts over the past days and weeks is:  “you can’t control anyone else, or what happens to you. You can only control how you react and what you do.” In this story, in response to a situation which she does not welcome, the girl uses her (magical) power to change herself, and to act. And she keeps changing, adapting, transforming and moving forward, as she finds herself in new and challenging situations…that makes a lot of sense to me. I’ve never had a fixed sense of identity or self – for me these things seem much more fluid. And magic is never far away! I hope you enjoy this beautiful animation of Twa Magicians by Eleonore Dambre – it’s been a pleasure working with her on the project.

Watch the video here.

 

 

 

Mòran Taing!

 

 

 

 

As some of you will already be aware, my dad, Derek Edgar, sadly died of cancer on 28th March 2017. He was an extra-ordinary man: creative, gentle, positive, loving, and determined. He remained just as extra-ordinary in facing cancer of an unknown primary source, for which no successful treatment could be found.

In the last week of his life, I wrote him a thank you card, because I wanted him to know how grateful my brother, myself and my mum were to have him in our lives. He challenged me to take the words of that card, and turn them into a happy song – he knew/knows I find writing happy songs difficult! And he has always tried to encourage me to keep developing my skills.

So that’s where Mòran Taing came from – it’s a song of gratitude for my dad’s life, and his legacy. The title is in Scots Gaelic, and the chorus means “many thanks, goodbye for now, fare you well for now, many thanks”. My mum helped me to write the lyrics, and continues to inspire me with her own positivity in the face of adversity. And Mary Ann Kennedy kindly helped me to find the most fitting Gaelic words for my feelings, and then helped both myself and my CARA bandmate Gudrun to learn how to pronounce them!

On his second anniversary, 28th March 2019, CARA will release Mòran Taing as a single, and make our “official music video” which celebrates his life, and his passions, public for sharing. From Thursday, you can buy the single here and watch the music video on this link.

I hope that the song and video will bring comfort and strength to those whose lives are affected by cancer, and that the proceeds of the single, which will be donated to Cancer Research UK, will help in the battle against this illness which affects so many people. Thanks to my CARA bandmates for their support throughout this project, and to you, for buying the single, and supporting the charity!

Rendition: 5 – 9 March 2019, 8 pm at Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh

Rendition, Tragic Carpet, Roxy, © Lunaria Ltd

The Rendition Project is a unique collaboration between academics and supporters of human rights, which has published research around the involvement of the US and its allies in human rights violations following 9/11. With information on detainees, the global network of detention facilities and over 11,000 so-called ‘rendition flights’, at its core, the project holds governments to account for their actions, whilst representing the victims of their abuses.

I’ve been honoured to be involved in the development of a soundtrack for Tragic Carpet’s radical new work, Rendition, which uses these research findings to explore individual stories, bringing to life the realities of rendition flights, and torture, and how the British Government colluded with the CIA. For me, Rendition raises important questions about how we treat fellow human beings.

It’s hard to describe the show itself, which is a powerful mix of puppetry, soundscapes and visual theatre. Here are a couple of links to wee tasters for the show that might give you a sense of it:
CANDLES
FLIGHTS

Rendition runs next week from Tuesday 5th – Saturday 9th March at 8pm in the Roxy Snug Bar, Edinburgh, which will be transformed into an installation within which the audience will experience the work. Tickets are available here.

 

Shiny New Website!

songwriter Kim Edgar new website Scotland piano vocals guitar Edinburgh

Welcome to my new website! I hope you like it.

The best thing about this new website is it enables me to offer special discounts and rewards to those of you who support me by subscribing to my mailing list newsletter.

You’ll find a button to join the mailing list at the bottom of most of my web pages, including the home page. If you sign up, I’ll keep in touch with a newsletter every couple of months, and whenever I’m able, I’ll offer you special treats! And if you’re already a member – thanks so much for your continued support, and I hope you’ll enjoy the new benefits…

Welcome Aimee!

We’re delighted to welcome our new CARA bandmate, Aimee Farrell Courtney! Aimee won the 2010 World Bodhrán Championship, and having played with her, we can see how…we’re delighted that she’s agreed to join CARA, and she’ll be playing with us on our quintet dates – you can check them out here: www.cara-music.com

September Update

CakeIt’s my 40th birthday! I enjoy living so much that I don’t like to think about mortality too much, but “the big 4 – 0” has made me take stock; I hope that, if I’m lucky, I still have half of my life to go (or maybe even more, if I’m really lucky!). And I’m grateful for all the blessings I’ve had in the past forty years. I have been so fortunate in terms of my childhood, my family, loved ones, and friends, and the fact that I’m able to carve out a career for myself doing what I love; creating and sharing songs and music. I was touched by the honest, open songwriting of young people at this summer’s BandCamp at The BIG Project. Thanks for your votes last month as well – The BIG Project Youth Choir won Young Community Musicians of the Year 2018! I had a lovely gig with Lorna Brooks; it was so nice to share a gig and an evening with her. And very soon, with CARA, I’ll be heading back to a Medieval festival in Selb which was an absolute hoot last time and I’m sure it will be again…I’m a lucky bunny. Thanks for making my job possible! Fingers crossed that I can keep writing, performing and making music in the community for another forty years…

If you’d like to celebrate with me, I’d be delighted if you’re able to make it along to one of the gigs on the forthcoming CARA tour in Scotland…If you saw us on our first Scottish tour back in 2016, we now have a brand new live album out, including 7 new songs and tunes that we’d love for you to hear, including Moran Taing, a thank you song that I wrote for my dad. And if you haven’t seen us before, here’s a wee taster:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga9PTyPTUlI&feature=youtu.be

The BIG Project Youth Choir

Big Project Youth ChoirI’m really delighted to announce that The BIG Project Youth Choir are winners of the Hands Up For Trad Young Community Musicians Of The Year 2018! Thanks to everyone who voted, and well done to all the winners (including generous and supportive community musicians Alison Burns, Jane Lewis and Protest in Harmony who have inspired and helped us along the way!) and indeed all of the nominees, including Stephen Deazley at Love Music who are out there doing fantastic work across Scotland. And finally, thanks to Hands Up for Trad for thinking to shine a light on it all…happy days

Lovely fRoots Review For Stories Untold

Here’s a lovely review for my new album from fRoots:

Kim Edgar, Stories Untold (Quietly Fantastic QFM004).

Edinburgh songwriter-pianist delivers inspiring, thought-provoking original

songs conveying both the uplift and heartbreak of love and taking their cue

from core credos ‘love is the key’ and ‘write what you love’.  Intelligent

quasi-orchestral arrangements impart a dimension of intimate grandeur.

CARA Autumn Tour Blog 2015 – Final Days

I’ve been loathe to write a post this past week, with all that’s been going on in Paris and around the world, as well as close to home.

How do you square the joy I felt in performing with my bandmates in Soltau on Friday night (in a beautiful, new, felt factory museum, of all places – transformed into a music venue for the first time with the care and attention of volunteers), with the unfolding revelation, after our tasty post-gig Italian meal, of the atrocities that befell innocent audience members at a different concert, and everyday people enjoying their dinner, in Paris? How do I stop myself from imagining the sheer terror some people must have experienced in the moments before their death, and from a growing sense of helplessness?

How do I acknowledge my pleasure in playing a Grotrian Steinweg grand in Hannover, and finding a beautiful new teal merchandise case, alongside the unexpected loss of a generous, benevolent and supportive radio producer, who is ultimately the reason I’m making music, and all the bereavements which I’m aware are currently devastating the life of others? How do we all hold all of these kinds of things together? And acknowledge, with sensitivity, that even when really big, hard stuff is happening, all the little stuff, and the good stuff, continues, too?

After days of reflection, Ive decided that the only way for me to do this is to practise gratitude. So here are some things I’m grateful for, from the world outside the tour van:

STEWART CRUICKSHANK

Stewart Cruickshank was a very special man. Everyone who knew him agrees. On Tuesday, on my way to teach Christmas carols to a Primary School choir, I learned in the car of his death. I was deeply saddened, because Stewart had a huge impact on the path my life has taken over the past ten years.

Back in 2005, as a member of the board of Burnsong, Stewart heard some kind of potential in me, in a song submission for unsigned songwriters, and had the kindness and generosity to tell me so, and to convince a timid, nervous songwriter that she had something of value to say and should continue to try and say it. Through support on the Iain Anderson show (not just then, but ever since), and Stewart’s continuing encouragement, care and kind words, and the experiences which being one of the winners of the Burnsong Gathering 2005 afforded me (including being completely blown away by the songwriting and performance of Karine Polwart), I decided to leave my job as a primary teacher and pursue a career as a songwriter. The experiences snowballed into several fantastic years writing and performing with The Burns Unit, and then a song from that project brought me to the ears of Gudrun, which led to my most and unexpected (and fortuitous!) career move to date – to become a member of Cara.

This is not a unique story. Almost ever other member of the Scottish industry that Ive spoken with over the past few days has their own story of how Stewart took them under his wing, or helped them to develop. He had a genuine passion for music, of all kinds, and also a generous heart. What a legacy he has left behind him. I will always be grateful to have known him.

OUR INSTINCTIVE GOODNESS

There’s a danger of feeling overwhelmed and helpless in the face of terrorism. It’s an abyss of despair that’s easy to fall into. But from reading accounts of the response of members of the public to the attacks in Paris on Friday, there were two strong images which stayed with me: the surge on social media of porte ouverte messages from locals opening their doors to help strangers in need of a place to hide, or sleep, in the face of grave danger, and a man who instinctively grabbed the hand of a woman, a stranger, he lay beside on the floor of a restaurant during an attack. He didn’t know it at the time, but she had been shot in the chest. Nevertheless, she died comforted by and connected to another human being. I’m grateful that as humans we have an instinctive goodness.

A FRIENDSHIP BRACELET

I may have a low (or no!) taste barrier when it comes to music – I tend to enjoy everything! But nothing leaves me feeling more inspired than when I listen to music that I know intimately, recorded, or live, by my favourite artists, or when I hear community groups of all ages and abilities singing together. There is something about group singing that is truly magical.

In my first home break during this Cara tour, we took the kids from The BIG Project Youth Choir along to hear Love Music, a 350 strong community choir based in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall, ably led by Stephen Deazley with super talented Dave Milligan at the piano. In this performance, we were also treated to the beat boxing wonders of The Hobbit who thoroughly inspired our choir members.

We were attending this performance because the kids at The BIG Project are just embarking on a song commission, which well perform with Love Music next March in the Usher Hall. Its to be inspired by the writings and thoughts of Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, the former commander of the International Space Station, who is talking at the Usher Hall next year, after his blogs, songs and writings became very popular. One quote from his astronaut’s guide to optimism seems particularly pertinent at the moment:

There are problems with everything and nothing is perfect. But that shouldn’t be cause to bemoan. That should be cause to achieve.

On the way to the concert, walking towards the 22 bus stop, a nine year old boy that I was responsible for gave me (and another child in our group) a white friendship bracelet. I was touched, and gladly wore my bracelet for the night, unfortunately forgetting to return it to the child when we got back to Broomhouse (it’s to be noted that I can’t be trusted with pens or money, either). This week, during my four day stint at home before the final three gigs of the tour, I remembered to catch the child while I was at The BIG Project in order to return the bracelet. Wordlessly, but with a few small sounds, he stuck his hand out, and gave it to me to keep. A generous, quiet gesture.

I’m wearing that bracelet today as I travel, to remind myself of all the small, good things happening on this tour, and all over the place, that we can be grateful for, despite there being problems with everything. I’m looking forward to performing the last three gigs of our autumn tour with my bandmates – hopefully making good music that spreads a little bit of happiness to our audiences, and having fun ourselves – even though there’s loads of hard stuff that I’m aware of, too. And I’m remembering another thing that Chris Hadfield said, that each of us are the only ones who can change things for the better, together.

Its actually the same message as in Gudrun’s lyrics from the title track of our forthcoming album, Yet We Sing: in darkness, raise your voice.

Over and out.