Ardyth & Jennifer
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Ardyth & Jennifer

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada | AFM

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada | AFM
Band Folk Celtic

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"Ardyth & Jennifer are building a sizzling career with their soothing harp-playing and folk-tinged singing"

With their regal velvet gowns and long flowing hair, angel harps and waterford-crystal voices, Ardyth & Jennifer may appear like Celtic sirens rising out of the primordial mist. Actually, two more down-to-earth musicians you'd be hard pressed to find. They each have a blossoming music career, creating a soothing meld of plucked harp music and folk singing.
"Sometimes I crave peaceful music." Says Ardyth Robinson. "The world is pretty chaotic, and people seem to appreciate a time to be calm and relax." But this isn't crystal-gazing New Age music. Ardyth & Jennifer prefer to view themselves as part of the traditional music movement, just one of the many branches sprouting from the same solid trunk. Whether it's Ashley MacIsaac's progres sive fusion of dance beats and Scottish fiddle tunes, or Great Big Sea's folky pop or the world-beat undertones of McCrimmon's revenge, the music derives from the same canon of traditional Scots and Irish melodies.
"I started learning music in Nova Scotia because I realized that's our heritage," says Robinson, whose grandfather was a traditional Irish fiddler from the Yarmouth area. "I have children and it's important to be able to pass it on to them."
The pair met while Jennifer (Jif) Wyatt and Robinson's husband were attending Mount Alliosn University in Sackville, N.B., in the mid-'80s. But they didn't begin their musical collaboration until 10 years later. Robinson was the first to have a harp: "I saw a harp in New Zealand before I was married, and I always wanted toplay one." After Robinson's first child was born, her mother bought her a harp for Christmas. But with the demands of being a new mom, the instrument sat largely unplayed for several years until Robinson was laid off from her job as a health- care administrator with the province. "When I was restructured from my job, I thought it was the end of the world." In fact, it was the beginning of a new career. "Ardyth came to my house in tears," recalls Wyatt, " I said, 'Hallelujah. Now we can play.'" Through Robinson, Wyatt had already bought herself a harp and soon mastered the instrument. She is also a choir soloist with St. Matthew's United Church in Halifax and an accomplished pianist. "The harp is like a naked piano -you use your hands in a similar way," says Wyatt.
The lovely, low-impact tonaility of the harp and voice is finding a new generation of fans. Their music gets played on CBC radio, they're frequent guests on early-morning Breakfast TV and are popular on the convention circuit, providing relaxing after-dinner music. "This isn't exactly what we planned. We really did this for fun, and everything else is a treat," says Robinson. "That's a good attitude to have -it can be a fickle business."
Last week, Ardyth & Jennifer launched a new album, Promise, with a packed party at a downtown hotel. Joined onstage by double bassist Pam Mason and cellist Merilee Temple, they performed several pieces from the album. Recorded in Bedford, the album boasts a nice mix of reinvigorated traditional pieces (Morrison's Jig, Red is the Rose, Winds of God, Farewell to Nova Scotia) with some of Wyatt's original pieces. They called in some friends to help out on the session, including Ronnie MacEachran (fiddle), Cathy Porter (accordian) and Ken Shorley (percussion). The appeal of the music lies partly in its contemplative atmosphere, partly in the novelty of the sound.
Of course, the sound of the harp isn't lost to Canadian audiences. Lucy MacNeil of the Barra MacNeils often plays a small Celtic harp, and Canada's best known harpist is Loreena McKennit, who has not only brought the ancient sound of the stringed instrument into a modern context, but has astutely built a sucessful indie career. As their own career gets busier, Ardyth & Jennifer maintain their down-to-earth approach to music. "We really keep the joy of music in perspective," says Wyatt. "Our goal is just to keep doing what we do."

-Sandy MacDonald, The Daily News
- The Daily News


"The bells peeled from the steeple of the Argyle Historic Church last Wednesday evening, sending their clarion call out over the Argyle river and to the hills of argyle Head.
Inside, Ardyth & Jennifer, a duo featuring traditional Celtic and original music for harp and voice, brought a full house to its feet with the silvery threads of sound that wove voice and harp into an enveloping spiritual cloak.
"They are two angels who have come down from heaven," said one woman referring to harpers Ardyth Robinson and Jennifer Wyatt. The comment, overheard several times during the evening concert, fit the setting but not necessarily the sentiments of the two young women who have turned their passion for the harp into a career. They are much too firmly rooted to be angels.
They sang and strummed the traditional love songs and laments. But as well as the familiar refrains of Gypsy Rover and Farewell to Nova Scotia, there were also those created from theri own experiences. And it was the songs sung from the heart of their lives that held the most power to move. Whether it was the lament for the seafarer, its seeds rooted in a fishing tragedy off Newfoundland, or the tongue-in-cheek observations on Nova Scotian hospitality, born from Robinson's brother's experience of hitchhiking on Highway 101, they helped the duo establish an intimacy with the audience that had many clapping, tapping and singing along.
Accompanying the duo during much of the performance was acoustic bassist Pam Mason. The mellow, sometimes dark bass tones provided a perfect counterpoint to the soprano harmonies and resonant sonorities from Wyatt's steel-strung harp.
The evening concert was a fund-raising benefit for the Planters Society of the Argyles. Planters emigrated from New England and settled many parts of Yarmouth County in the 1760s.
Proceeds will go towards the completion of restoration of the historic Planters House in Argyle Head.
The society's chair, Diane Crowell, says the society has been working on the Planters House project for several years and wants to complete restoration in order to "become a more active part in the rich cultural diversity that is beginning to attract tourists to this area."

Belle Hadfield, Yarmouth Vanguard

- Yarmouth Vanguard


“Soaring harmonies and gentle harping”
-The Australian Folk Harp Journal

“Despite serene appearances, both women crackle with energy and humour, both on stage and off… weaving an ethereal mix of ancient folk music with modern influences.”
-Grant Kerr, Saint John Telegraph Journal

“…it was the songs sung from the heart of their lives that held the most power to move… they helped the duo establish an intimacy with the audience that had many clapping and tapping along.”
-Belle Hatfield, Yarmouth Vanguard

“Ardyth & Jennifer are building a sizzling career with their soothing harp-playing and folk-tinged singing”
-Sandy MacDonald, The Daily News

“In a sea of voices and sounds that emanated from the festival's five stages, the sweet sound of their dual harps and voices could be heard, crystal clear… this group will be heard about lots in the years to come.”
-Troy Greencorn, Artistic Director, Stan Rogers Folk Festival

“Ardyth & Jennifer are a breeze of inspiration. They are professional and audiences completely enjoyed their wonderful performance.”
-Bernie Melanson, Organizer, Springhill Music Festival

“Their music, like their personalities, is thoroughly enjoyable!”
-Liz Rigney, Host of Breakfast Television, ASN/ATV

“Ardyth and Jennifer are both accomplished harpists, but it is the duo's haunting vocal harmonies that make their sound absolutely unique.”
-Tom Plewman, Madrigalia newsletter

“Ardyth & Jennifer inspire and delight, they captivated the very spirit of the Tall Ships Arrival Ceremonies. Their beautiful voices blended with the harps and gave new life to the tradition of Celtic Music.”
-Martha Reynolds, Arrival Ceremonies, Tall Ships 2000 - from various newspapers and magazines


Discography

Ardyth & Jennifer have five full length CDs, Awakening, Promise, WinterFire, Learn To Fly and their latest addition, a brand new instrumental CD entitled Room to Breathe (released in December 2008). Many of their songs have been played across Canada on CBC radio, and featured in film and television across the world. They currently sell their CDs through CDBaby and Bullfrogmusic.com as well as through iTunes and many other digital sites.

Photos

Bio

“Have harps, will travel”
A Volkswagen (diesel) Golf roars up to a concert venue (well maybe not _roars_, so much as _chuggs_), unloads two Celtic harps, a sound system and two singer/songwriters. Ardyth & Jennifer have been travelling and performing together for over a decade. Their harmonies are exquisite, their songwriting intelligent, their arrangements unique and their sense of humour shines through it all. They have travelled throughout the Maritimes, the New England States, and most recently to Ontario, bringing their music to venues large and small. They have been featured on CBC radio and television, ATV/ASN and Global television programs, and have played at most of the premier soft seaters in the Maritimes including the Imperial Theatre in Saint John, the Capitol Theatre in Moncton, the Savoy in Glace Bay, the Grand Auditorium in Ellsworth, Maine, the Theatre at Monmouth in Maine and the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium in Halifax.
Their original songs have gained them critical acclaim within the songwriting community and their most recent CD (an instrumental album entitled "Room To Breathe", released in December 2008) shows their versatility and musicianship once again.
Travelling the roads together they feel as though they are having an amazing journey- it has lead them to some of the premier folk festivals and stages throughout the Maritimes and into the New England States, and it leads them into the hearts of tiny communities, where they gain inspiration for many of their songs.