By Laura Jean Grant –The Cape Breton Post
BADDECK — At the halfway point of the Celtic Colours International Festival, Mary Jane Lamond had a much-deserved day off from performing Tuesday.
In fact, with seven festival appearances in just eight days, it was the only down time for the renowned Gaelic singer from Cape Breton whose Celtic Colours schedule began with a Gaelic Song Circle last Saturday and doesn’t come to an end until this Saturday with a performance in the Milling and Music concert at the Gaelic College.
And in between, she’s taking the stage in communities across the island from Albert Bridge to Mabou and Sydney River to Inverness.
“I can’t believe it’s only Tuesday. I’ve been thinking it’s Thursday or Friday,” said Lamond, in reference to the hectic festival schedule she’s been keeping, and who, not surprisingly, was on the road when reached for an interview Tuesday afternoon.
Tonight Lamond will be part of the Mentors and Musical Minds show at 7:30 p.m. at Strathspey Place in Mabou featuring the Féis Mhàbu Youth Performers and some of the local artists who’ve mentored and taught them over the course of the last year in Mabou. The Féis Mhàbu mentorship program, which began four years ago, uses house sessions to bring young, eager performers together with music and song masters
“I think the main thing … is that you keep it fun,” said Lamond, of her approach to working with children.
Lamond noted the young local performers are the stars of tonight’s show and she and other mentors like J.P. Cormier, Carl MacKenzie and Theresa MacLellan are their special guests.
Thursday night, Lamond will travel to Sydney River to perform in the Pan-Celtic Voices concert at Our Lady of Fatima Church at 7:30 p.m.
“This is an exciting concert for me and a little nerve wracking as well,” said Lamond, who will be sharing the stage with respected singers like Scotland’s Mairi Smith, Welsh group Carreg Lafar, France’s Annie Ebrel, Ireland’s Liam ó Maonlaí and Cape Breton’s Wendy MacIsaac, Tracey Dares and Mairi Rankin.
Through song, the show will bring together a mix of Celtic languages including Gaelic, Breton and Welsh in one of the most anticipated concerts of the week.
In addition to performing, Lamond is also wearing another hat at this year’s festival working through the Office of Gaelic Affairs as a consultant for Celtic Colours. Her job is to talk and network with artists, fans and others during the festival to learn what role people see for the Gaelic language in future Celtic Colours festivals.
“After the festival we want to look at ways to develop a strategy around Gaelic for the festival. What role can the festival play in sustaining and invigorating the language and culture?”, she explained.
Lamond, who has taken part in 11 of the 12 Celtic Colours festivals to date, said there’s a number of reasons she keeps coming back. She likes the variety of venues the festival uses and more than anything enjoys the chance to come home and perform in such a prestigious world-class event.
“In terms of Celtic festivals, (Celtic Colours) is certainly up there internationally,” she said.
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