Music of Resonance, Resilience, Connection

by Kerry Dexter /
Kerry Dexter's picture
Feb 15, 2021 / 0 comments

Connection, learning, grieving, resilience, recovery: these are among the gifts music offers.

Music of Resonance, Resilience, Connection

In the United States, February is a month designated to remember and celebrate Black history. That is not the only time to consider the lives of Black people, past and present, nor is it the only time when connection and learning take place. There are many stories left untold, though. Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi honor those stories with their song Ten Thousand Voices. Giddens is known for her work bringing new life to African American songs, as well as for her songwriting. Turrisi is an Italian musician who is master of many instruments. Both resident in Ireland, they are enjoying finding ways their music intersects. You will find Ten Thousand Voices recorded on the album There Is no Other. Giddens and Turrisi have a new album, Calling Me Home, expected to be out later this spring, too.

Untold stories come from other times and places, as well. Those families forced from their homes by the clearances in the Highlands of Scotland in earlier centuries are among those. Callum and Rory MacDonald of the band Runrig wrote the song Recovery to remember them. Karen Matheson sings it here. Matheson is a founder of the top Scottish group Capercaillie, with whom she often appears, and is known for her solo and collaborative work, as well. She has recorded Recovery on her most recent solo album called Still Time. Though Matheson often sings in Gaelic, the songs on Still Time are all in English.

Send Us Brighter Days: that is an idea that seems as resonant at present as it would have been to those in the past. Eric Bibb sings it here; he wrote it with Mailan musician Habib Koité. Eric Bibb is an African American musician who has spent most of his life in music outside the US and draws on both aspects to create. You will find this song recorded on the album Brothers in Bamako, which Koité and Bibb made together. You may also want to look for Bibb's album Global Griot. In this video, he sings Send Us Brighter Days with his wife Ulrika Bibb,  who is a fine musician in her own right.

A time-honored way to find healing, peace, and resilience is to look to nature. That is part of the substance of the song Far Beyond Carrickfinn. Carrickfin is in Donegal, in the far west of this western county in Ireland. Donegal Airport isn't far, and there's a beach which looks out over the Atlantic, a fine place to explore the shore by day and the stars of an evening. Mairéad Ni Mhaonaigh grew up nearby. Mairéad is a top fiddle player and singer, and founding member of the internationally known group Altan. Her first fiddle tutor was her dad, Francis Mooney. Her friends Enda Cullen and Ian Smith wrote the song for Mairéad after her father's passing. She sings it here, and you will find it on Altan's album The Widening Gyre. You may also want to look for their album The Gap of Dreams, and check out the online fiddle lessons Mairéad is offering at present, too.

Celtic Connections, one of Europe's top winter festivals. presented its concerts online this year. There were nineteen days of music, among them concerts by artists including Karen Matheson, who you met above, Eddi Reader, James Grant, Cherish the Ladies, Blazin' Fiddles, Molly Tuttle, and many others. Blue Rose Code, who is Edinburgh-born musician Ross Wilson, was one of the musicians who took part. His music is often described as being at the edge of alt-folk, with influences from John Martyn to Motown. Lately, as on his album Healing of the Deepest Kind, he has been leaning toward the reflective side of things.

To bring the nearly three weeks of music to a close, the producers of Celtic Connections created a Farewell Concert with a range of music to bring back memories and to send folk on their ways. They chose Wilson with his song I Wish You Peace In Your Heart to begin the concert. The song was originally released at Christmastime, but as the Celtic Connections folk knew, it has resonance beyond that season. You can find the song available as a stand alone single. Harmony vocals on this video are from Karine Polwart, whose music you've met in this series before.

May this music help you on your journey through these shifting times.


Thank you for staying with us through this journey. Below, you'll find a link that will take you to an article which has a bit more backstory on the series. It also has links to a number of the stories, including ones called Listening for Community, Music for Winter's Changes, and The Geography of Hope.

Music for Shifting Times

Music for Shifting Times




Kerry Dexter is Music Editor at Wandering Educators. You may reach Kerry at music at wanderingeducators dot com.

You may find more of Kerry's work in National Geographic Traveler, Strings, Perceptive Travel, Journey to Scotland, Irish Fireside, and other places, as well as at her own site, Music Road.