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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

Shetland Singer/Songwriter Freda Leask Releases 'Magdalene'

Freda Leask is an alternative country and folk singer /songwriter from the musical islands of Shetland. Her material varies from folk songs inspired by the Shetland environment and history, often using the rich Shetland dialect, to compositions with a more rootsy, americana style.

Magdalene is the first single as part of a project towards a full album of original material written by Freda Leask and produced by Kris Drever and Tim Matthew.

Freda has performed locally and beyond both as an individual and in various collaborations and line-ups. The initial track, 'Magdalene' is out now as a digital single on bandcamp and can be streamed on other digital platforms.

Growing up listening to classic country music she made her early stage appearances in her local community from the age of 8. From 11 years old she was singing regularly around the islands, establishing strong musical links on the local scene. At 17, Freda began to teach herself to play guitar which led to an interest in songwriting and a desire to collaborate with other singers and songwriters.

Freda became involved in gospel music during her 20s and, with a keen interest in vocal harmonies, this contributed greatly to her later work with the Shetland folk group ‘Shoormal.’

Freda established ‘Shoormal’ in 1997. A Shetland dialect word for 'where the shore meets the sea’ - a place of constant change. Members of ‘Shoormal’ ebbed and flowed' over the years - all were native to Shetland but came from a variety of musical eras and influences. The band had a strong focus on vocal harmony and intricate instrumental arrangement and, within a decade, they had produced 3 albums of original material. 'Indigo Skies' (2000), on their own label, which earned them a nomination for Best Newcomer 2001 on Mike Harding's Folk on 2. Migrant (2003) and Turning Tide (2006) were released under the Scottish Folk label 'Greentrax.' Since then ‘Shoormal’ has had extensive airplay and received international recognition, touring briefly and taking part in the Folk Alliance in Austin, Texas.

In 2008 Freda co-ordinated the very successful Shetland Christmas Card/CD, promoted by Scottish-based Beacon Music. This involved many great Shetland singers and musicians in contributing to a traditional carol compilation which remains a firm seasonal favourite.

Collaborations, have included: Appalachian Fiddler, Bruce Molsky, award-winning Orcadian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kris Drever (Lau), the Shetland fiddle super-group Fiddler's Bid, fantastic Shetland guitarists Brian Nicholson, Arthur Nicholson, Norman Goudie, (Girsie) and Trevor Smith.

She has made frequent appearances with well-known Shetland singers Jenny Keldie and Sheila Henderson and has supporting top-class acts like Gretchen Peters, Kim Richey, Roddy Woomble, Yola Carter, The Sojourners and Adam Holmes.

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