Over the next few weeks, members of The Shee will be telling us all about their tenth anniversary Continuum project, and introducing us to their nominated collaborators. To kick things off Olivia reveals more about her choice – Chris Wood.
Olivia Ross Talks about Chris Wood
Hello there, my name is Olivia Ross and I sing and play fiddle with The Shee.
When the idea of the project was put forward by Shona and Amy, I knew there was only one choice of composer for me: Chris Wood.
I will always remember the first time I heard Chris sing. It was 2003 and I was coming to the end of my first year on the Folk and Traditional Music Degree at Newcastle University. Andy Cutting and Chris were performing at a lunchtime concert organised by the University and we were encouraged to attend – thankfully I did! I was instantly taken aback by his voice and power of communication; I immediately believed and trusted him.
We constantly hear tremendous singers, past and present, where we are in awe of their vocal talent, but I feel it’s only once or twice in a lifetime in song that you hear someone who you feel is communicating directly to you, whether in the telling of a story or something quite personal, as if they know your thoughts, questions, your fears, dreams and yearnings.
This is why Chris was my only choice. He is so subtle in his performance but yet so powerful and emotional; at times making you smile with a deep contentment and then in the next song or even phrase, he makes you weep with such a sorrowful pain that it physically aches. I love how he is so true to his values, beliefs and understandings and won’t compromise on these things. The fact that he can sing a song we associate with Christmas – ‘While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night’ – during a performance at a summer festival just because he wanted to, demonstrates this!
There is so much of Chris’s work that I love and admire in so many ways but I have chosen ‘Hollow Point’ from his album Handmade Life as my favourite. He tells us of the details leading up to the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes on the 22nd July 2005, and it leaves you speechless for so many reasons.
My time with The Shee is jam-packed with incredible memories and experiences but I will never forget the day Shona phoned to ask whether I like to be part of the band. I had heard that this band was being put together and thinking ‘that is one phenomenal line up!’, never imagining that I was to be part of it! So many amazing times but I still pinch myself that I’m part of it at all!
For more information about the Celtic Connections Continuum launch event, where these original compositions will be performed by The Shee for the very first time, and to book tickets, please click here.
Photo Credit (main image) Louise Bichan