Mary Jane LamondView in iTunes
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Though her initial leap into fame came with the release of Ashley MacIssac's hit song, "Sleepy Maggie," on which she provided vocals in Scottish Gaelic, Mary Jane Lamond had been immersing herself in the music of her grandparents for quite some time. Her own first album, Bho ThirNana Craobh (From the Land of the Trees) was released in the same year (1994), and was the result of research that she had completed while earning a degree in Celtic studies at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish. To complete the album, Lamond had combed through the university's archives looking for songs to arrange and adapt, and had queried long-term residents of the local Scots Gaelic community in Cape Breton. The result was an album which combined deeply traditional sounds with pan-Celtic elements (like the use of the Irish bodhran) and modern pop sounds. The synthesis of different styles was not surprising given Lamond's background -- she had been raised in different locations in Quebec and Ontario throughout her childhood and had spent more time in her past playing in punk bands than bagpipe ensembles. Her debut album earned her many fans in Canada's maritime provinces, as well as a few detractors who argued that her modern versions of Celtic music did more to harm traditional sounds than preserve them. It was her work with MacIssac, however, that provided her exposure outside of the East Coast and enabled her next album, Suas E!, released in 1997 on A&R records, to become a commercial success. Featuring her smooth low vocals and fast ribbons of rhythm, the album took its name from encouraging words that audiences shout out during music performances, translating roughly as "Go For It!" After touring extensively worldwide to support her album, Lamond returned to her work supporting Gaelic culture, writing a column in the Gaelic-language quarterly, Am Braighe, and working on her follow-up album, Làn Dùil, which was released by Wicklow Records in early 2000. ~ Stacia Proefrock