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Sheila Stewart

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Biography

The daughter of late Scottish folk singer and storyteller Belle Stewart, Sheila Stewart has sung all of her life. As a child, she joined her mother, father (Alec), and sister (Cathie) when the vast repertoire of music that her mother had inherited from her father, via her brothers, was recorded for School of Scottish Studies Sound Archive. Her family home was a mecca for song collectors and singers searching for material. Assuming her role as "custodian of the Perthshire family folklore" following her mother's death in 1997, Stewart recorded a self-produced cassette, Time Goes on....and Time Goes On, which was reissued in 2000, and a solo CD, From the Heart of Tradition, her first new recordings since 1968, the same year. Comparing mother and daughter, Topic records wrote, "[Sheila's] approach to phrasing is more intricate and perhaps more rhythmically varied; breaking words down to their syllables — indeed, often adding syllables — to emphasize a point in the text or a turn in the tune." Stewart learned many of the songs and stories in her collection from her late uncle, Donald, with whom she mostly lived as a youngster. From earliest memory, she was prepared to inherit the family tradition of songs and stories. Stewart sang at the presidential inauguration of Gerald Ford in 1976. She continues to lecture on traveller culture at such institutions as Harvard and Princeton Universities.

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