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Shelagh McDonald iTunes Tracks Shelagh McDonald Official Website

Shelagh McDonald

After featuring on a few V/A folk compilations (`Dungeon Folk’ for one), Edinburgh-born Shelagh (c. 1948) was one of the many singer/songwriter troubadours to sign for Sandy Robertson’s B&C records. It wouldn’t be long until she was described as Scotland’s answer to SANDY DENNY, JONI MITCHELL or JOAN BAEZ.
Living in Bristol from 1968 and commuting to London, the elfin-like McDONALD cut ALBUM (1970) {*9}, a fine mixture of her own folk compositions alongside some by GERRY RAFFERTY (`Peacock Lady’), the traditional (`Let No Man Steal Your Thyme’). Guitarists KEITH CHRISTMAS and ANDY ROBERTS, both guested on the record; other musicians on board were drummers Gerry Conway and Roger Powell, bassist Pat Donaldson (another FAIRPORT figure), jazz pianist Keith Tippett and Dobro/steel guitar plucker Gordon Huntley.
For her sophomore long-player, STARGAZER (1971) {*6}, Shelagh showcased her excellent voice with a rendition of the traditional ballad, `Dowie Dens Of Yarrow’. Augmentation came via RICHARD THOMPSON, DANNY THOMPSON, Dave Mattacks, Ray Warleigh, Ian Whiteman (keyboards, again) and MAC & KATIE KISSOON, while usual arrangements by Robert Kirby were another highlight.
Sadly, Shelagh has been conspicuous by her absence ever since, reportedly debilitated by a bad LSD trip, which left her at times schizophrenic and vocally numb. In November 2005 (now aged 57) she walked into the Scottish Daily Mail offices in Glasgow, telling them about the possibilities of her singing again; her life had been reclusive, at times living in less than modest accommodation with her physicist hubby Gordon Farquhar (they married 1981) in the north of Scotland. Sadly, her inspiration Gordon died in 2012, leaving Shelagh to contemplate once again on her original vocation. A fresh album (“Parnassus Revisited”) was recorded and passed around at gigs, while disc-jockey Stuart Maconie invited her to sing (in 2014) on his Freak Zone radio show with Galloway’s indie-folksters, The Razorbills; she appeared at the Solas Festival in Perth, the same year.
© MC Strong 2002-2010/GSM-GFD // rev-up MCS Sep2015

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