Arthur Cormack is one of the finest Gaelic singers of his generation and a true champion of the Gaelic language.
He was born in Portree on May 21, 1965 and while his brothers and sister spent their formative years listening to pop music, Arthur gravitated towards Gaelic song. His mother’s family were all Mod singers, his mother was a member of a Gaelic choir and with his father also being a Gaelic singing enthusiast, Arthur remembers being taken to local cèilidhs regularly as a youngster. Before long he too was able to stand up and sing confidently in front of an audience, although his earliest memory of singing in public, aged seven at the local Mod in Portree, was, he remembers, a very nerve-wracking experience.
The emergence of Gaelic groups and singers such as Runrig raising the profile of Gaelic song and music among a wider, youthful audience also inspired Arthur to continue adding to his repertoire of songs and to think about performing professionally. He won the National Mod Gold Medal in 1983 and then spent much of his time touring the world with accordionist, keyboard player and composer Blair Douglas before the pair joined Gaelic singers Christine Primrose and Eilidh Mackenzie and harper Alison Kinnaird in the band Mac-Talla in 1992.
Arthur’s keenness to perform both old and new Gaelic songs continued in the mid 1990s alongside singer and harper Mary Ann Kennedy and guitarist Chaz Stewart in an early incarnation of Cliar. With the addition of singer Maggie Macdonald, pianist and harper Ingrid Henderson and fiddler Bruce MacGregor, the band expanded into a sextet, released its first album, simply entitled Cliar, in 2000, and toured internationally, going on to release two further, highly acclaimed albums, Gun Tàmh and Grinn Grinn, as well as featuring on Mary Ann’s Gaelic psalm celebration, Lasair Dhè.
When not performing either solo or with Cliar in his typically relaxed, hands in pockets style, Arthur continues his love of and devotion to Gaelic – the language, the culture, its heritage and song – by living up to his honorary title of “The busiest man on Skye”. He co-founded the record label Macmeanmna, which he continues to run and which has released albums by many of Gaeldom’s emerging young talents and established figures, and he has been very active as a director of the Aros Centre, a tourist centre, theatre, live music venue and restaurant in Portree.
He is a tireless worker with Fèisean nan Gàidheal, the organisation that provides youngsters from all over the Highlands and Islands with Gaelic arts tuition and the opportunity to take part in festivals across Scotland, and he is heavily involved in the Blas! Festival, which promotes Highland culture across the region in its entirety each September. He is also a board member of Bòrd na Gàidhlig and has represented Gaelic culture for many years on various committees of the Scottish Arts Council and its successor, Creative Scotland.
An eloquent and persuasive spokesman for his native culture, Arthur has made and continues to make a huge contribution towards encouraging people to participate in and engage with Gaelic through the language and the art and above all, through song.
Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame is run by
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