We continue with our series of guest posts from The Shee who over the coming weeks will introduce us to their nominated collaborators for their tenth anniversary Continuum project. This week, it’s the turn of Laura-Beth Salter who chose composer, folk singer, guitarist and songwriter Martin Simpson.
Laura-Beth Salter talks about Martin Simpson
Hi there! Laura-Beth here, mandolinist and one of the singers in The Shee. It’s my turn to let you all know about my chosen composer for our upcoming Continuum project.
I spent a lot of time thinking about the songs I sing with the band, how I source them and what they add to the mix. I love that the three of us who sing have such different backgrounds. Even though I’m from Lincolnshire, I grew up with a lot of Bluegrass and Oldtime music in the house, and started playing the mandolin as it is a common instrument in those styles – and because no one else in the family played it! Inevitably, the songs I pick to sing with The Shee are from the American traditions (except one I wrote, but it definitely reflects that style, too). This isn’t because I don’t want to sing traditional British material; it’s just that I hadn’t ever felt such a connection with the songs.
This led me to thinking about my choice of composer…
I decided it needed to be someone that would write me an English song to sing, but also has a connection with my American-influenced background. And there was no question really – it had to be Martin Simpson!
Like me, Martin is from Lincolnshire, but spent fifteen years in America. He crosses Oldtime American with English music in a way I love to hear. Martin’s songwriting inspires me just as much as the way he takes traditional American songs and makes them his own. I feel a real connection with his choice of material, singing style and always enjoy the way he accompanies a song with such a unique guitar style without distracting from the words.
A great example of what I love about Martin’s music is his version of ‘Louisiana,’ by Randy Newman. You can find it on his brilliant Prodigal Son album, but also here:
Martin was in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina hit, and has a real connection with this song. I always aim to sing songs which I believe in, which I really mean, and this performance highlights to me why it’s so important to do so.
So, as you can probably tell, I am very excited that Martin is onboard for the Continuum project, and I am also looking forward to working on some new material with the rest of the band. I love writing and arranging with The Shee. For the process to work we all have to be present, and carefully piece parts together like a jigsaw until we have a full arrangement… sometimes with the help of wine!
I can’t believe it’s ten years since we first started the process in Lillias’ garden in Newcastle, but I am certainly grateful to have been a part of it!
Cheerio for now and thanks for reading!
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 Credits: main post image: Louise Bichan, Laura-Beth image by Sean Purser