A stunning synthesis of virtuosity and energy, The Outside Track's marriage of Canadian, Scottish and Irish music and song has been rapturously received around the world. Hailing from Scotland, Ireland, Cape Breton and Vancouver, its five members are united by a love of traditional music and a commitment to creating new music on its foundation. Using fiddle, accordion, harp, guitar, flute, step-dance and vocals these five virtuosos blend boundless energy with unmistakable joie de vivre. Each player within The Outside Track is a master of their chosen instrument with the band stacking up an impressive amount of international awards. This amount of talent alone would be enough to recommend the band but in this case the end result is so much greater than the sum of the parts. The line up comprises Norah Rendell (Canadian Traditional Singer of the Year nominee), Mairi Rankin (Beolach), Ailie Robertson (Live Ireland Winner, BBC Young Trad Finalist), Fiona Black (BBC Fame Academy Winner), and Cillian O'Dalaigh. The band have enjoyed 3 years of extensive touring in the UK and Europe, including appearances at Goderich, Sidmouth, Whitby, Cornwall and Leigh-on-Sea festivals. They have recently completed their first tours of France, Germany and Switzerland, and are appearing at several major Canadian festivals in Summer 2009 thanks to their new relationship with North American agents Wooden Ship Productions.
Norah Rendell sings, plays flute and whistle “with a degree of style and sensitivity envied by many”. Norah has toured extensively as the lead vocalist of UK/Ireland based band, The Outside Track for the past 2 years. In 2005, Norah was awarded a grant from the Canada Council for Performing Arts to travel to Ireland to study traditional flute and singing. She has an MA in Irish traditional music from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance where she also lectured in Ear, Notation and Theory, taught flute, whistle, coached singing and instrumental ensembles. Norah has given guest lectures and workshops at University College Cork in the Irish song tradition.
Currently based in Minneapolis, Norah is a member of Paddy O’Brien’s Doon Ceili Band and has recently released an album with guitarist, Brian Miller (Gan Bua, Tommie Cunniffe, Doon Ceili Band, 5 Mile Chase) called, “Wait There Pretty One”.
Originally from Vancouver, Norah has been broadcast live nationally on CBC radio with 5 piece Canadian roots band, Cleia. She has toured throughout BC and Alberta with Cleia, The Maenads and the all female a cappella sensations, The No Shit Shirleys. Having been a member of the Universal Gospel Choir, Norah earned a reputation for being skilled in creating rich and unexpected vocal harmonies on the spot and has been hired by many singer-songwriters as a back-up singer live and in the studio.
Ailie Robertson comes from Edinburgh, Scotland, and while brought up playing mainly Scottish music, she has always had a passion for Irish music. She holds an MA in Irish Music Performance from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance.
Although just 22 years old, she already has some of the most impressive credentials in the Scottish harp world. A 4-time National Mod Gold Medalist, she was also 1st prizewinner at the inaugural London Harp Competition, and best overall musician at the Edinburgh Competition Festival. In 2000 she was selected to represent Commun na Clarsach for Scotland at the Pan Celtic Festival in Ireland. This year she was awarded a scholarship from the ESU in recognition of her 'virtuosic clarsach playing', and was also a winner of the St Albans New Roots award. She played in the Scottish Harp Orchestra, Na Clarsairean for many years, performing with them at two World Harp Congresses - in Seattle and Prague.
She has given recitals at events all over Scotland, including performing for HRH the Queen, and being invited to give a private concert to the Lord High Commissioner and his distinguished guests earlier this year. She has played alongside many great Irish and Scottish musicians and this summer supported BBC award winner Karine
Polwart. She has also recently been invited to perform at the 2007 Edinburgh International Harp Festival.
She teaches extensively around the UK and Ireland, and was co-founder and director of the highly successful Borders Harp Weekend. She has tutored for Feisean nan Gaidheal for several years, and teaches privately in schools and colleges across Scotland.
New to the band at the beginning of the Canadian tour in 2009, Mairi is now a fully committed full-time band-member. One of the hugely influential Rankin Family - legends on the Canadian music scene - she plays fiddle, sings and also step-dances up a storm. Born in Mabou, Nova Scotia, Mairi has been influenced by some of the best Cape Breton traditional musicians and instructors on the island. She has developed her own unique style by being immersed in such a rich musical culture. She has toured nationally and internationally as a solo artist, a sideman and is a member of the Cape Breton Celtic super group Beolach. She has performed with the Rankin Sisters, Unusual Suspects and Bruce Guthro to name a few. She has appeared on the television broadcasts of DRUM!, the East Coast Music Awards, Rita MacNeil’s Christmas special and MNE’s Togaidh Sinn Fonn in Scotland. Her festival credits internationally include Celtic Connections, Chicago Celtic Festival, Milwaukee Irish Festival, BLAS, Tonder Festival. In Canada she has performed at all the major folk and Celtic festivals including Winnipeg Folk Festival, Calgary Folk Festival, Edmonton Folk Festival, Dawson City Folk Festival and the internationally renowned Celtic Colours Festival. She has taught her folk arts at Universities, schools, festivals and workshops. Some of these include Newcastle University, England; Augusta Heritage Festival, West Virginia; Scottish Arts School, Ohio; Buddy MacMaster School of Fiddling, Cape Breton; Montpelier Fiddle Camp, Vermont. Mairi has recorded one solo album, two CDs with Beolach and has been featured on numerous compilations and recordings.
From Evanton in the Highlands of Scotland, Fiona began playing music through the feisean movement, participating, then doing ceilidh trails then recently tutoring. She plays piano accordion and fiddle and has now started the flute.
Fiona attended the National Centre of Excellence for two years where she received lessons from Blair Douglass and Iain MacFarlane. She has played throughout Scotland in ceilidh dances, concerts and festivals including Celtic Connections, Celtic Chaos, Tartan Heart Festival and Blas.
She takes influences form many different bands and musicians including Blair Douglas, Iain MacFarlane, Martin Green, Iain MacDonald Karen Tweed, Crooked Still, Phil Cunningham, Donald Shaw, Niall Keegan, Sandra Joyce, Julie Fowlis, Gordon Gunn Karine Polwart, Chris Stout band, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, Blazin Fiddles and Harem Scarem.
She is now studying in Limerick doing a BA in Irish Music and Dance. She wishes to continue learning and playing as much music as possible and also would like to become fluent in both Irish and Scots Gaelic.
Born In Hamburg, Germany to a German mother and an Irish father, Cillian O'Dálaigh has been surrounded by Irish music from day one. Cillian's father played with Irish band, Cromlach and Cillian learned from him - and learned well. The family moved to Ireland when Cillian was 8 years of age and Irish music quickly became a major part of their family life when they formed the family band, Trazz, including all the O'Dálaigh brothers, one sister and their father. Performing on stage with Trazz since he was fourteen, Cillian has toured extensively in Ireland, Germany, France and the UK as both a guitarist and flute player. Cillian has recently graduated with a BA in Irish Music and Dance from the University of Limerick.
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