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Another Danish princess in Tassie

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That title will need some explaining, as this article is about Scottish songstress Isla Grant.

Isla Grant the Scottish song writer and folk and country singer is returning to Tasmania for concerts this month. Isla is much loved by Tasmanian audiences and has connected to many with her heartfelt lyrics that although personal reflections are common ones reflecting on relationships -songs like ‘mother’ about her own mum and Rachel Anna about her own precious grandchild resonate with everyone who has an abiding relationship with anyone be it mother grandchild or close friend. Isla has a remarkable song writing ability. When we chat she tells me a line arrives and then it takes about half an hour to write a complete composition.

Isla began her musical journey as a young girl strumming on her brothers guitar. It was a natural progression for a girl who grew up on a farm to a musical family, a father who played bagpipes and a
mother who was a singer. Isla is the only one who ‘took to the road’ as she describes it and became a professional troubadour. In some ways her siblings are share their love of music vicariously through her. Isla was speaking the truth when she said she took to the road, this lady is on the road for most of the year with a further gruelling schedule planned for next year which aims to include New Zealand, Canada and Australia again. Which means her beloved dogs, a golden retriever, cocker spaniels and her cats will feel her absence. However, Isla’s early days of farm life have given her a great love of animals and while she is away the pets are well taken care of by a sitter.

Isla has lived in Scotland all her life and makes her home not far from Edinburgh. She enjoys many visits to Ireland where she is very popular and one famous appearance on Midwest Irish Radio in Mayo is still talked about to this day. Isla prepared a meal of haggis for the staff including presenter Gerry Glennon.

This year will be a special tour, dubbed ‘Happy Anniversary Show’, it will showcase the many songs Isla has written and performed through the years.

Isla is an unique singer, as is the name Isla, at least everywhere apart from Scotland. Isla is the Spanish word for island but it is also the name used for two rivers in Isla’s native Scotland. There are a few possible explanations why two rivers in Scotland bear this name, one is that Isla comes from the Gaelic word ‘ailecach’ meaning rocky place and there will be more on this later. There is also the possibility the rivers are named after Ile a Pictich princess.

But one of the lovelies theories of the origin of the name, is noted by Peggy Earl. ‘Iula’ or ‘Iula’ was a mythological princess from Denmark who wore an apron in which she held an assortment of stones, in her travels she dropped a stone that would became Ireland and others that became islands stretching the way from Ardbt to Kikalton. Sadly, off the coast the princess perished and her body was taken to Seonais Hill where there are two small standing stones that mark the place. Although there is a lack of evidence for this theory it is possible ‘Islany’ was named for the princess or vice versa. The stones the princess dropped would give some credence to the Gaelic word ‘ailecach’ meaning rocky place.

So, next week Tassie will be entertaining a Danish Princess, mythologically speaking, as well as the present day musical maestro that is Isla Grant. You can see Isla at the Federation Concert Hall on 25th November at 8pm. Tickets are available at the TSO box office 1800 001 190 or online at http://www.tso.com.au/tso_event/isla-grant/.
Isla will also be performing at Devonport Entertainment Centre 23rd November and Launceston’s Albert Hall 24th November.
Paula Xiberras

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