Hannah Rarity from West Lothian is a finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician 2018. We asked Hannah the following questions:
How did you get involved in Scottish music?
The area I grew up in is not well known for its traditional music! You would have been more likely to find me at the bottom of the garden, age 4, singing rock band Queen’s ‘I Want it All’ – a story my Dad likes to tell – than singing traditional songs and melodies, but I have always favoured songs that I feel expertly capture certain emotions or stories. It is in traditional song I find this is often done best.
I always sang, but after joining the National Youth Choir of Scotland at the age of 8 I was exposed to pieces and arrangements of music from many genres, but I always seemed to be naturally drawn towards traditional Scottish material. A voice tutor of mine recognised this and suggested I apply for the Scottish Music course at the Royal Conservatoire. I started the course in 2012 and it was in Glasgow I was able to immerse myself, not only in the study of Scottish music and song, but the vibrant folk music scene there.
Why did you enter BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award?
The BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician competition provides the invaluable opportunity of professional advice and high profile exposure for young musicians who are building their careers within the Scottish music scene. I thoroughly enjoyed the semi-finals in Biggar, spending time with the other musicians and watching them perform.
What do you hope to gain from the experience?
I have already gained a great deal knowledge and experience from the semi-finals. Selecting songs for the time allotted in the semi-final and final forces you to choose material you feel represents you best as a traditional singer, and this process will help me in the future for performances as well as recording. Also, performing in the City Halls on the 28th to a large audience is one I’m sure I won’t forget!
Do you have any particular musical highlights?
I’ve been lucky with the opportunities I’ve been given thus far, but an evening that will always stick out in my mind was the first time I sang with the RSNO in 2013 at Phil and Aly’s St Andrew’s Night at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. It was one of my first professional solo performances and I was terrified! It was really thrilling and I knew after that I definitely wanted to keep going and pursue a career in music. I love to travel, and so getting to tour with music and see different places and meet interesting people has been a highlight of being a musician – Japan and Alaska have been some of my favourites!
What are your plans for the future?
I have plans to record my debut album this year, to be released in the Autumn.
I also want to continue to work on developing my songwriting and building my repertoire of traditional material. I no longer sing in a choir, but singing in harmony and creating music as part of a group of vocalists is something I would like to actively pursue this year.
Why not buy a ticket to hear Hannah Rarity or any other of the finalists at the Grand Finals on Sunday January 28th at 5pm. The finals are part of Celtic Connections festival. If you can’t make it along the event will be broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland between 5 & 8pm and on the iPlayer afterwards.