Caera
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Caera

Seattle, Washington, United States | SELF

Seattle, Washington, United States | SELF
Band Folk Celtic

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Oct
25
Caera @ AIDS Memorial Park

San Francisco, California, USA

San Francisco, California, USA

May
30
Caera @ Lake Merritt Dance Center (Viva Barcelona fundraiser)

Oakland, California, USA

Oakland, California, USA

Mar
17
Caera @ Capitola Book Cafe

Capitola, California, USA

Capitola, California, USA

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Music

Press


...At her workshop Caera performed "In Fading Light" beautifully followed by a fine "Boys of the Lough." Caera is at her best on her brass strung harp in an ascetic mode. Caera had the audience singing along to "Jug of Punch." Caera was asked about "Road the Isles" as to words, but another person said there had been more information in a manuscript owned by their mother.
Caera announced that she would sing a happy song in Gaelic to prove that indeed, they do exist. "The Road to Claddagh" was upbeat and well sung in Caera's soft voice.
Caera spoke about Turlough O'Carolan and sources on his life, including Art Edelstein's biography. She then performed a light, delicate but colorful rendition of "Carolan's Welcome" on the brass strung harp...

by Art Ketchen, Celtic Beat magazine - Celtic Beat


We met Caera at NOMAD. She is a well known harpist locally in northeast Massachusetts. Her quiet approach on this album works well with her brass strung Clairseach.
"Failte a Run" is a different take on the sardonic or sad "Shule Aroon." Caera's singing along with her harping makes one think of looking out on a calm lake -- very contemplative. Indeed while listening to the Gaelic/English words, that is exactly where my mind meandered off to. "A Promise Unbroken" is ethereal -- so in keeping with Caera's style.
"Song to the Storm (Amhran Chuig an Stoirm)" with it's spare harping and repetitive song is almost oriental -- nice appropriate touch with storm in background.
Caera's style is very spare -- austere in fact. A favorite of mine that illustrated well her use of the harp is the final cut here: "Lullaby for Eileen."
Caera Aislingeach sets you in a contemplative mood -- with a less is more approach -- but with a lot of more in the less.

by Art Ketchen of Celtic Beat magazine - Celtic Beat


"With Gaelic Harp and Soul"

by Donna Novak
GLOBE CORRESPONDENT

Combining her love of history, a strong interest in Gaelic culture, and a love of music, Celtic singer and harper Caera entertains audiences with songs in the Irish, Scottish, and Manx languages.
Caera will be playing her clairseach (pronounced CLAR-shuck in Irish), an instrument modeled after medieval harps in Ireland, and singing traditional and original songs tomorrow night at the Avalon Healing Studio in Chelmsford.
“The clairseach is a medieval harp with brass strings that is played with the fingernails,” said Caera. She explained that the clairseach has a sound distinctly different from most harps, because modern Celtic harps have nylon strings and orchestral harps are shaped differently and are played with the pads of the fingers.
“I grew up really poor and couldn’t get near any instruments,” said Caera, who is from Greater Boston and lives in Chelmsford. “In my imagination, I thought that a harp would be really pretty.”
Caera (pronounced KEE-ra), who recalls singing a lot as a child, always knew she wanted to be a singer. “I realized that singers had more control over their music if they could write music and play an instrument,” she said.
It was not until after college that she discovered the clairseach. “In the historical group I belong to, a couple of women did a presentation contrasting the medieval harp with modern ones,” she said. It looked really elegant, the way their fingers curled when they played with their fingernails.”
Caera was drawn to the beautiful sound and became interested in
learning more about medieval Irish music. Part of the intrigue, for her, is the lack of well-preserved medieval Irish music.
Caera is not a native speaker of Gaelic and has never lived in Ireland, although she hopes to move there someday.
“I work really hard in my pronun-ciation to sound like a native speak-er,” she said. “I learned from a native speaker from Connemara.”
Her hard work paid off in 2005, when she won five gold medals at the Columbus Feis in Ohio. The awards were for Gaelic singing, reading Gaelic poetry, reciting Gaelic poetry from memory, spontaneous Gaelic reading, and playing harp.
Although many of her songs are sung in Irish, Scottish, or Manx (the Gaelic dialect found on the Isle of Man), Caera believes the music transcends the language barrier.
“People are not necessarily listening to every word of the music, they are just blessed out,” she said. “If I’m singing very emotively, they can relate to the emotion even if they don’t understand the words.”
In order to help the audience better understand her songs, Caera tells stories throughout the performance about their meaning. She also gives listeners a catch phrase so there will be something the audience can understand.
“I’m always proud when people come up to me afterwards and they’re getting it, learning pieces of the language from my songs,” she said.
At tomorrow’s performance, Caera will play songs from her new albums, “Wake the Dragon” and “Through Misty Air,” as well as songs from three albums she is working on. She may also include selections from her traditional Irish children’s songbook and CD that will be coming out soon. One or two Celtic lullabies also may be included in the set list.
“For me, part of what moves me about it is the idea that music can come from people and doesn’t have to come from a box,” she said.
“A lot of what you hear on the radio can’t be done live because there’s so much electronic enhancement.”
Attending many open mike nights, Caera realized that most of the singers and songwriters play guitar. She believes part of the clairseach’s appeal for audiences is the change from the ordinary.
“I like being able to stand out that way,” she said.

- Boston Globe


Music Review:
Caera -- Go Raibh Maith Agat

This demo CD from Boston-area artist Caera Aislingeach reveals a welcome new talent who has genuine roots in the Celtic World. Unlike so many "Celtic" musicians, Caera has actually taken the trouble to study Irish and to acquire an authentic pronunciation. Her clear, supple voice can accomodate itself to a wide range of singing styles, as can be appreciated by contrasting her performance of the traditional lullaby "Éiníní" (the tune also known as "The Eagle's Whistle") with her more modern approach in her own composition "A Promise Unbroken". Her simple but sensitive accompaniments on the brass-strung Celtic harp create a marvelously fresh and magical atmosphere. Caera also includes songs in Scots Gaelic and Manx in her repertoire, and her fascination with the Celtic heritage is palpable in all her playing. Those who live in the Boston area should watch for her public appearances. More information on Caera, her performing schedules, this CD and her subsequent ones is available at : www.chaosdancer.com/caera .

~ by Alexei Kondratiev - Celtic League American Branch


Question 1: How was NEMO? It looked like you both had a great time and made some major advances in your visibility as an artist and in reaching your market.

Well, the market there was actually pretty different. As far as I know, I was the only "Celtic" musician there. NEMO did an "Irish Invasion" this year, but I was told that was all rock music, it was just that the bands were from Ireland. I didn't meet any other Celtic musicians there, but I did meet a lot of people who've worked in the music industry for years and don't know anything about Celtic music, so I was their introduction to it. In a second showcase I got because of my NEMO showcase, I asked the audience if they wanted to hear a song in English or in Irish Gaelic, and they picked Irish Gaelic. Then after I got off the stage a whole lot of them told me they had never seen someone who writes in Irish Gaelic, and some didn't even know it is a living language. Many of them had never seen a harp before either. So I was also glad to sort of raise awareness of the kind of music I really love.
NEMO is designed for independent musicians, though, and by having a showcase there I got a lot of exposure throughout the music industry, and got a lot of support for advancing my career as an independent musician. I did have a great time; there were a bunch of other musicians there who were fun to meet and talk to and share experiences, and some of them were also showcase musicians so I got to hear their music, which was excellent.

Question 2: You perform at a lot of Pagan Festivals and "New Age" events. Do you see a stronger bond with true traditional music with adherents of these events than among those who consider themselves "traditional" in a more conventional sense?

Well, I guess it depends on which aspects of tradition you're looking at. I do have a personal interest in pre-Christian Irish and Celtic traditions, both in spirituality and in other aspects, such as language and poetry. At Pagan Festivals I'm more likely to find other people who are interested in those particular traditions, though I've also found that I seem to draw those people anywhere I go, just by doing what I do, and because I think it is getting pretty popular in general.
On the other hand I'm much more likely to find people who know traditional Irish music better at an Irish Festival or Celtic Festival, or through organizations like Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. I also went straight to the living tradition in a sense and spent some time in Connemara this past August. Most of the people I met there are Catholic, but that's where I met people who've been speaking Gaelic all their life, sean nos singers who grew up in that tradition, and amazing musicians and dancers who just grew up surrounded by these traditions. I have a great deal of respect for people who intertwine their spirituality into other aspects of their life, like singing, as long as the result is an expression of love and devotion, and not one of alienation.

Question 3: What musical background do you come from in Celtic music? Did you grow up with Celtic music.

I didn't grow up with it, and in fact didn't really get into Celtic music until college. My parents weren't into any Celtic music at all. My mother loves musical theater and my father played popular music on the radio, but that was it. Neither of them sing or play any instruments. I do have one memory of my grandmother, my mother's mother, singing something to me when I was very, very young, to calm me down, and what little I remember of it sounds like sean nos. She never actually taught me any Irish songs, though she was very involved in other Irish heritage events near her home in Dorchester, MA, and it was through her that I picked up a sense of pride in our heritage. I still didn't have much access to Irish music as a child, though.
I used to sing constantly; anything I heard I would just sing it over and over. I would sing songs from the radio or a tv show, or sometimes I would make stuff up to sing. I always wanted to be a singer, and I sang for my church from when I was 15 to when I was 19. I was never given lessons in anything musical except some voice lessons I got myself for a few months in high school. My father really didn't support my love of music much, and wouldn't let me pursue it seriously.
It was actually through hearing Enya, first on the radio and then when a friend had one of her CD's, that I first heard the Irish language. The language just woke something up in me. I wanted more, and that got me into anyone else I could find who sings in Irish Gaelic, and that spilled over into Scottish Gaelic, and that's really how I got into Celtic music in the first place. I was in college by then. I also got into medieval music in college, and discovered the medieval Irish harp. I fell in love with that too, and got my own harp and eventually found ways to learn to play it. I've learned a lot from CD's, but I have also pursued Gaelic lessons, Gaelic singing classes, and harp lessons from other singers and musicians all over the U.S. and Ireland. There's a lot more you can learn from a good teacher than you can on your own.

Question 4: We saw Maire Concannon listed among the credits on your latest CD. Did you learn Irish Gaelic from her? What of your source for Manx and Highland Scots language and traditions?

I did learn Irish Gaelic from Máire, and I also sent her all of the songs I wrote in Irish on "Through Misty Air," to make sure they sounded right to a native speaker, before I recorded them. She is really an ideal teacher for the Irish language: she is a native speaker of the language and still uses it everyday so her command of the language is excellent, but she also actually is a teacher; that's what she does for a living and she's very good at it. So she can make the language easier and more fun to pick up, and still give helpful answers to any questions you have, from basics to really complicated stuff.
I learned Scottish Gaelic from several sources. Thomas Leigh really got me the furthest with the language, and it's from his wife, Maggie, that I learned a lot of songs in Scottish Gaelic, and one (The Selchie) in Scots. I actually see them advertising their Callanish School in Celtic Beat all the time. I learned from them when they still lived in Dorchester, but they moved to Cape Cod and meanwhile I moved further north, so now we're several hours apart and don't see each other very often. I've met with Thomas to go over both "Buain na Rainich," the Scottish song on "Wake the Dragon", and another one I'm working on for my next album. I also considered taking actual lessons in Manx Gaelic from Thomas, since he's one of the only people I know who can teach that, but I couldn't afford private lessons and there wasn't enough demand for a class. I got one once out of what supposed to be a Scottish Gaelic class, when my classmates were all absent one night, but then we went back to Scottish Gaelic. I mostly only learn Manx songs from CD's. Manx is much trickier to read because it's alphabet is completely different from the other two Gaelic languages, so I don't assume I can pronounce it correctly by reading it, without hearing it.

Question 5: "Failte Arun" is a welcome back song-the same tune as "Shule Aroon" which is a song of resistance and war. A bit of background and history on these two contrasting pieces?

"Fáilte a Rún" is one of my favorite songs that I've written. "Siúil a Rún" is a very pretty song, but very sad. One day while I was already feeling sad, abandoned, and a little hopeless, I put on a CD of some Irish music to listen to. That day when "Siúil a Rún" came on, I got mad. I started thinking about my own problems in the context of the many historical problems for Irish people throughout time, and I thought, "What if, for once, a happy Irish song seemed to more accurately reflect the lives of Irish people? And what if, for once, someone cared enough to come back, instead of just abandoning the woman in one of these songs?!" I thought I would put that idea away for a while because "I was busy", but it kept bugging me. Then I got a musical riff stuck in my head so I got on my harp to catch it, and then words started hitting me for "Fáilte a Rún." It took me four days to finish it, but when it was done, I was really happy with it. It matches "Siúil a Rún" very closely, but turns the whole thing around to make it a happy song with a lot of hope for the future. I like looking at life that way better than just seeing all the misery we've already come from.


Question 6: Between Highland Scots, Irish, and Manx music and language-what are some important distinctions?

Well, first of all Scots is not a Gaelic language at all -- it's a Germanic language that borrows a little from Gaelic as well as from other Germanic languages. That's why it looks and sounds a lot like English except where it doesn't. Irish and Scottish Gaelic are close enough that you can tell they are related, but they are now two different languages, like Spanish and Portuguese. Manx sounds closely related to the other two Gaelic languages when it is spoken or sung, but on paper it looks completely different. That's only because of its alphabet, which is based on English phonetics rather than Gaelic phonetics. Otherwise it is closely related, and all three modern Gaelics go back to a common ancestor language, academically called Old Irish.
For musical styles, especially singing, I know a lot more about Irish and Scottish Gaelic singing. For Manx I have only found lullabies so far. All three Gaelic languages still have exquisitely beautiful lullabies. Irish sean nos singing has noticeable similarities to singing Scottish Gaelic slow airs, but there is a lot of regional variation within each country as well as between the two. I first learned mouth music, puirt-a-beul, from Scottish and Cape Breton singers, but have since found that there is a similar style in Irish as well, though again with some variation. It feels sort of like looking at a family portrait: you can tell they're all related, but they each have distinguishing features so you can usually tell which is which, especially if you know them.

Question 7: Tell us a bit about Mor Gwyddelig(Irish Sea)? Here there is also Welsh in the repertoire. Do you and Myra Hope Bobbitt join up again for performances by Mor Gwyddelig?

Myra Hope and I met at a bardic competition held by the Society for Creative Anachronism. We both competed that year, and we were both impressed by the other one's entry. We also both played Celtic harps, but were influenced by medieval music as well. My entry that year involved singing in Gaelic, and after hearing that Myra Hope approached me to tell me that she had worked out a new tune for the Welsh classic, "Ar Hyd y Nos," but she needed a soprano who could sing in Welsh. She asked me if I could do it. I hadn't sung in Welsh before, but I told her if she would go over it with me I would be happy to. When she taught me "Ar Hyd y Nos" I loved it, and have had a lot more interest in Welsh language and music ever since.
Then we got to be friends and started putting more music together. I had written "In Fading Light" as a poem but couldn't figure out music to it, so I gave it to her and she put the music to it. Then she wrote "Wake the Dragon," another Welsh language song that I love. Eventually we started performing, and recording for a CD. She came up with our name, Môr Gwyddelig, since it's the Welsh name for the Irish Sea, the water between Ireland (my heritage) and Wales (her heritage).
When we were almost done recording for that album, Myra Hope said she needed to quit music for a little while, and she hasn't approached me to seriously start up again. That was when I went solo, about two years ago. A lot has changed in both of our lives since then, and I don't think it's very likely that we will become a band again, though it is possible.

Question 8: Your music-particularly with the metal strung harp, is haunting. We sense an oriental influence here. What musical influences from oriental sources do you credit?

On "Through Misty Air" I would say most of my influences on my harp are Irish, or medieval. However, one of those Irish influences is sean nos singing, which is traditionally unaccompanied, and even now when any of the singers I learned from sing with instruments, they are very clear that the singing is foremost in importance and instruments should merely support the singing, not guide it or take it over. That's been a very strong influence for me.
I have read both historical and recent writers compare Irish singing to singing in India. I have also worked at two different yoga centers and another singing style I love is Kirtan, which is a type of devotional chant from India, so that influence is probably there in my music too. I can see the similarities I read about between the chanting style in Kirtan and some sean nos songs. I also can be influenced by almost anything I hear, but I can't think of any other Eastern music I listen to regularly, other than maybe some of the crossover or fusion bands in Celtic music that blend with Eastern music, like some of Susan McKeown's accompaniment.
Another important thing that might remind you of oriental music when you hear my harp is its tuning. Most Western modern music uses a scale called even tempered tuning, in which the half step between each note is the same length for every note. I tune my harp in what is called Pythagorean tuning, which is used a lot in medieval music and is more accurate for the medieval harp, plus it sounds significantly better then even tempered tuning on a wire-strung harp. It does result in a different scale, and with notes that sound somewhere in between where you would expect them to be in modern music of the West. Oriental music, on the other hand, uses a similar scale to what I use, and you get those in-between notes there as well. Pythagorean tuning is European, and is named for Pythagorus, the Greek mathematician who first wrote it out precisely, based on the hexatonic scale of ancient Greek music.

Question 9: Speaking of the metal strung harp: Is that your preference nowadays? It certainly seems to be your medium. What, to you, are the advantages of the metal strung harp?

Oh, I could go on about this all day. My friends have joked with me that my harp is not my primary instrument -- my voice is. They do have a point, but the wire-strung harp is definitely my preference among other instruments. For the first few years after I got my harp I had a very hard time learning how to play it, because almost no one knows. That's the disadvantage of the wire-harp, or clairseach (clarsach in Scottish). I approached some teachers of nylon-strung Celtic harp, and they all told me they couldn't teach me wire technique, since it's really completely different, and as with any instrument if you do it wrong you can eventually cripple yourself with things like repetitive strain injuries. Eventually I got Ann Heyman's _A Gaelic Harper's First Tunes_. It helped, but after searching the U.S. and Ireland I still had a lot of trouble finding a teacher I could get lessons from. Eventually about a year and a half ago I approached the Irish Music Center at Boston College, and a few weeks later they had found Charlotte Hallett, another wire-harper in Haverhill, MA. I started lessons with her and now I'm very excited about learning to really play this instrument the way it was meant to be played.
The wire-strung harp has a lot of merits. It's an extremely beautiful instrument, both in appearance and in sound. The sound of wire harp strings is very distinct, and I prefer it to the sound of nylon harp strings. It can ring like bells and has a very long sustain. It also feels better in my hands, since the strings are closer together than on a nylon-strung harp so my little tiny hands can still reach octaves fairly easily. This is because it's played with the fingernails, so you don't need room to get your actual finger between each string. I have strong fingernails, and I love playing an instrument where I'm not supposed to cut them off in order to play, though I do have to keep them reasonably short so I don't trip over them if I play a dance tune. I also still really want to recreate the sound of medieval Irish harp music, and medieval Irish and Scottish harps had metal strings and sounded more like wire-strung harps than like nylon-strung harps.

Question 10: Your latest CD is a beauty. What sort of reception has it gotten so far?

Thank you. Overall it has gotten a pretty good reception, and I've gotten many compliments on it from people who have heard it. I would like to see it do better in sales, but for a brand new independent release it has done reasonably well so far. It sells pretty well whenever I have them at a live performance, but it has barely moved otherwise. I'm pretty sure that's a marketing problem; I've been overwhelmed with other things in my life, and haven't kept up with things like radio campaigns or advertising. They also came out in July, in the middle of festival season. I sold a lot of them at the festivals where I had them, but I lost a lot of festivals in the first half of the season because they weren't ready yet. I expect they will do better once I get moving on proper marketing.

Question 11: What is next on Caera's agenda?

Well, I am working on my next album. It's going to be all lullabies. Several of my friends are pregnant, and really want this CD soon, but it probably won't be ready until late summer 2005. I'd also like to do a CD of early historical music, and another one of mostly original music. And of course I'm always learning more about Gaelic singing, the wire-strung harp, Gaelic poetry, and Irish and Celtic history, and I will continue to pursue more educational opportunities to enhance my music and my teaching.

Thank you, Caera.

Thanks again, for all the support you've both given me and my music at Celtic Beat.
- Celtic Beat


Where are you from, originally and what brought you to Boston?

I was born in Boston and have lived all over the Boston area, but have never really lived elsewhere. One thing music is doing for me is getting me to see the rest of the world, both by giving me opportunities to see places I had wanted to see before but couldn't, and by giving me reasons to go to places I had never heard of before.

What style of music would you say you do?

Celtic music. I sing in Celtic languages and play a Celtic harp, and I play some traditional music. I also write my own songs (in Irish Gaelic as well as English), and some of them are obviously influenced by folk music and other genres, but the Celtic influence is always there in my music too.

What do you enjoy best - songwriting or performing and why?

Hmmm, I never thought about that. I probably enjoy performing more, just because I'm somewhat of an extrovert and I like sharing the love with other people. :) I do love songwriting; it can do a lot for me in my own healing and growth, but it also makes me face things in myself that can be uncomfortable. It's good, but not always fun.

Who are your musical influences?

I have a whole lot of influences. Almost any song I hear will influence my writing or composing in some way or another. My major influences include Enya, Máire Brennan and Clannad, Loreena McKennitt, Ani diFranco, Rachael Sage, Stevie Nicks, Capercaillie, the Indigo Girls, Iarla Ó Lionaird, and Turlough O'Carolan, for example.

Describe your favorite song you have written and why is it so special to you?

I would pick Fáilte a Rún as my favorite song I've written (for now). It's very closely based on a traditional Irish song, Siúil a Rún, which is yet another sad and pretty much hopeless traditional Irish song (there are quite a few of those). Siúil a Rún is a very pretty song, but very sad, and I was listening to it one day while I was already feeling sad and a little hopeless _before_ I had put on some Irish music to listen to. I started thinking about my own problems in the context of the many historical problems for Irish people throughout time, and I thought, "What if, for once, a happy Irish song seemed to more accurately reflect the lives of Irish people?" I thought I would put that idea away for a while because "I was busy", but it kept bugging me. Then I got a musical riff stuck in my head so I got on my harp to catch it, and then words started hitting me for Fáilte a Rún. I got really obsessed with that song as it was being written, a process full of interruptions that took four days, but when it was done, I was really happy with it. It matches Siúil a Rún very closely, but turns the whole thing around to make it a happy song with a lot of hope for the future. I like looking at life that way better than just seeing all the misery we've already come from.

What are your goals for the next 5 years musically speaking?

Well, I definitely want to make more albums. I have my next three albums planned out already. :) I'd also like to be making significantly more money, and to play my music in more areas I haven't been to yet, including on other continents (so far I've played on North America and in Ireland but not the rest of Europe). I also want to gain more skills and more confidence on my clairseach, or brass-strung harp. It's a beautiful instrument, but there's so much to learn as far as technique is concerned that I fully expect to keep learning for the rest of my life. I would also like to see my record label get successful enough and big enough that it could really offer other musicians a lot of support for their careers too.

Tell us about your recordings and what's in store next.

So far I have two albums done, "Wake the Dragon" and "Through Misty Air". "Wake the Dragon" was done with a bandmate, who could write and sing in Welsh and who played a nylon-strung Celtic folk harp. We have songs in Welsh, Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic, and even a medieval French song on that album. I really love the songs on "Wake the Dragon" and how that album sounds, but the band has broken up somewhat badly. I've gone solo as a result. "Through Misty Air" was my first solo recording, and was really done under a lot more pressure than I hope to ever have to work under again. I love the songs on this one too, but it has a much more bare, and I guess a more personal approach to it. I feel like people who listen to "Through Misty Air" really get to know a lot about me, which is sometimes scary. I guess all songwriters go through that. I wrote a couple of songs on "Wake the Dragon", but I wrote almost all of the songs on "Through Misty Air".


My plans for the future include an album of lullabies, which I have started working on, an album of early music (medieval and probably some early traditional music), and another album of almost completely original music. I've also thought about trying to collaborate again, or possibly just add guest musicians to give a more full sound, though sometimes I really like the stark solo stuff too, so we'll see what that brings.

Where can we buy your music?

I almost always have CD's on me and in my car, so if anyone physically finds me they can get CD's from me directly. :) They are also available so far through http://cdbaby.com/group/songsalive/from/warriorgirl and www.worldtalentquest.com, and will likely be available through other internet sites soon. Legal downloads are also available through www.worldtalentquest.com and some of the major sites for downloads, like iTunes. Of course I always have CD's at gigs too. There are several smaller merchants who tend to work at festivals I have played at who also carry some of my CD's, like Ha'penny Imports in Dublin, Ohio, or Special Creations in Salem, MA. I may put a list together at my website to help people find them.

What are your views about where the music industry is heading in your community, or on a global level?

I really like what the internet has done for independent music, and for widening people's options for music they want to hear. I'm also glad that right now recording and manufacturing music is relatively cheap and easy compared to how it used to be, so that people who are really determined can get out there and make their own music and try to be successful with it, instead of never even getting a chance because of prohibitive costs and not enough alternative outlets to play to. Of course, the downside of all this is that things have gotten easier for everyone, so there's a whole lot more competition than there ever has been, and getting people's attention has gotten more tricky. I'm trying to be optimistic and think that viable opportunities will continue to be available to the people who really work at it, and who really have something to offer in their music.


Anything pertinent you'd like to say about Songsalive!

You guys are awesome, thanks! - Songsalive.org


The beauty in listening to the two cd's by Elite member Caera, is in the simplicity of arrangements with vocal harmonies to enhance music from medieval times until today - a language all it's own - and fortunately, well-defined lyric sheets to translate the music's words into reality. Caera mentions influences including "Moya Brennan, (Maire Brennan - the proper spelling of her name, though she now uses a phonetic spelling for English speakers, like her sister, Enya (Eithne)." Also, Loreena McKennitt, a major Celtic harper and Sileas, a Celtic harp duo from Scotland whose work Caera truly loves. As Caera says "I love good songwriting in other genres, especially folk or folk-like music, and Suzanne Vega is defnitely one of my favorites."

The first cd is Caera's initial solo project, "Through Misty Air", with 12 songs inspired by tradition as well as the artist's own life experiences. Caera's primary instrument is a "clairsleach", a medieval-style, brass-strung Irish harp, "based on Irish harps from about the 1500's." The title track, "Through Misty Air" features Mayer Lippman on recorder. Caera performs the track "Ceile" on a bray harp borrowed from Babz Schilke. All tracks were recorded by Rob Ignazio at Porter Square Studios except "A Promise Unbroken", which was recorded by Neil Marsh at Lepus MediaNet. Rob also handled the mastering duties. It's a beautiful cd, from start to finish with cover art gracefully drawn freehand to express the variety of worlds that Caera dwells in.

"Through Misty Air" is an ethereal album, with all tracks written and composed by Caera except "Failte a Run", "Einini", and "Carolan's Welcome", which are based on traditional Irish tunes. The song, "If I'd Only Known" is a heartbreaker, with Caera's voice mesmerizing you with the story of first love found, and lost. Her musical journey with each song guides you past rivers of life while Caera's soprano vocals lead you through each melody as lightly as butterflies on a meadow's wildflowers. The liner notes are good reading, letting you know a bit of personal insights to the artist's creativity and passion for her music. Two tracks on this solo venture, "A Promise Unbroken" and "Lullaby for Eileen", also appear on Caera's second cd she sent us for review.

The second cd is a collaboration with harpist Myra Hope Bobbitt under the name, Mor Gwyddelig, which the liner notes explain is "the Welsh-language translation for "Irish Sea", the body of water stretching from the Hebrides to Tintagle, and from Wales to Ireland." To know this sets the mood for the music the artists perform on this first cd released together as a group.

From the beginning harmonious vocal sounds set the tone of Mor Gwyddelig, the cd titled "Wake the Dragon". Caera, performing on a brass-strung harp, with Myra Hope Bobbitt on nylon string harp, and both sharing vocals, express their feelings of being transported to another place and time in each song. Close your eyes and see the villages, lose yourself in the forest of magic, hear the languages, the poetry, the mysticism of places steeped in folklore and pageantry. The harps are beautifully woven together to compliment the other. Lyrics by both artists reveal that time does little to alter what is important to all mankind - relationships, loyalty, honor, faith, hope and love.

Myra mentions "when Caera introduced herself to me at Harper's Retreat in 1999, I had just finished massacreing a tune in front of 150 of my peers - Caera was completely complimentary, friendly and unfazed by my performance. For that kindness, and for her lovely sporano voice, I asked Caera to sing with me...." Thus began a musical friendship that begat a wonderful cd, featuring "historical, traditional, and original music in Welsh, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, English and even Middle French (circa 1555.)"

The listener sets sail across an ocean of music, which you want to hear several times to really get the images that the music and vocals solicit from your speakers. Title track "Wake the Dragon" begins with luscious harmonies and makes you want to dance and feel joyous. "Sing to praise the Mother, Dance to wake the Dragon, write poetry to transform the self into verse...." This is a cd with lyrics and music to inspire, and refresh.

Track 6, Lullaby for Eileen, is Caera's "first song I composed on the harp". It's a sweet sound that emanates from the harps; dreamy, and comforting to hear. Other tracks on this cd are produced with a simplicity that honors the tradition of the music that captures these two artists in the purest form. Another track to highlight, "In Fading Light", was a true collaboration with Caera writing the lyrics and Myra Hope balancing with the music. The harps are subtle, like soft feathers dancing on the air - I love the vocals - gentle, romantic and soothing to a tired warrior after a long day's battle - whether in the forests of Avalon or on the streets of a metropolitan city somewhere here in the new world as we know it.

Take a moment, relaxing in your backyard, driving down a country road or walking with your headphones, you'll enjoy these cd's that take you far from the world of MTV and into a space that explores another world, another time, so delightful, magical and spiritual.

toni k.

- songsalive.org


Music should possess the capability of taking you to other places. Caera’s music does just that! Her combination of brass-string harp, modeled after those used in the Middle Ages, and soothing vocal qualities moves you out of the mundane world and into the Celtic realm.
Caera has two recordings presently available. Through Misty Air is a solo work with a primary focus on original material, and Wake the Dragon a collaborative effort with bandmate Myra Hope Bobbitt focusing primarily on traditional songs. What differentiates Caera in her efforts is her use of multiple languages. Collectively on these two works you will find Welsh, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Middle French, and English.
Through Misty Air provides twelve songs that weave in and out of English and Gaelic, often within the same song. Caera provides translations as well as a few thoughts on the motivation for each song. My personal favorites include Carolan’s Welcome, an excellent rendition of Turlough O’Carolan’s air #171, and Symbols, a tale of one’s discovery of their personal power.
Wake the Dragon is a collaborative work between Caera and Myra Hope Bobbitt. Songs are in English, Welsh, Gaelic, and French and involve tales of warriors, priestesses, love found, and life in the forest realm. The interplay between Myra’s nylon-strung harp, Caera’s brass-strung harp and their respective vocal qualities makes this CD well worth listening to. Personal favorites include the haunting In Fading Light and the Scottish Buain a Rainich (Fairy Love Song) with intertwined vocal tapestry.
I strongly recommend both of these works not only for their artistic quality but for their ability to move you beyond the mundane realm. They are perfect for relaxing after work or for preparing the mind for ritual. We are indeed fortunate to have a bard such as Caera to remind us of the great stories of old.
by Ailim, Henge Happenings, Lughnasadh 2005 - Henge Happenings


When we search out tradition sometimes we bring something very new and unique from it. When I heard this CD I knew I had rapport with it. So it is with the new CD of Caera Aislingeach.
In one aspect, indeed referencing Caera’s reference to Pythagorus (who, it is said, the Druids admired) I have a rapport here, because of the geometry of Celtic Art. And in some of the pieces here she has geometric and hypnotic persona in her singing and playing. As in “A Promise Unbroken.” Which reminds me of the eternal pattern of a Celtic spiral. Also haunting here are the treatment of “Sidhe Beag Sidhe Mor,” and the moving “Ceile.”
Musically there I sense a psychological link to oriental work. This is another CD that reminds me of Japanese woodcuts as much as anything out of the Celtic realms.
In a rather less esoteric vein, “Failte a Run” is a grat counter to that song of desperation and war “Siuil a Run.” Once in a while something upbeat is needed for Celtic song.
Caera Aislingeach is doing just fine with her chosen instruments. She uses the past right, with her own Voice.

written by Art Ketchen of Celtic Beat magazine, January 2005
- Celtic Beat


In celebration of Irish heritage
by Elizabeth Sembower

Caera recalls always being drawn to her heritage.
“I knew there was something out there,” she said.
Born in Boston, and raised in surrounding towns, the eldest of six children, she did not hear her family’s native tongue spoken at home.
“My mother experienced a time and place where it was often difficult to be Irish,” said Caera. “But it was important to her mother that we knew we were Irish and wanted us to learn the language. She instilled that pride in me. There is a lot a language can tell you about where you came from.”
The Chelmsford resident is now in her mid-20’s, fluent in three Gaelic languages, Irish, Scottish, and Manx; a singer-songwriter; and an accomplished musician on the clairseach – the Irish harp with nearly a 1,000-year-old tradition.
Audiences can see and hear Caera perform a rich repertoire of songs from a myriad of time periods and places in a concert on Friday, Oct. 15, at Yoga with Robin in Tewksbury.
Her chosen art, undergoing a renaissance since the 1970’s and 80’s, is fiercely popular with a small segment of devotes, which Caera terms “a niche.” But traditional Irish music has gone relatively unnoticed among general audiences – something Caera is determined to change.
She was inspired at an early age by the magical and moody sounds of Enya and the group Clannad from the heart of Ireland. She decided, however, to pursue an education in Cultural Anthropology at Regis College and UMass Boston, where she received her degree.
A life threatening illness caused her to stop and take stock of the direction her life was taking.
“I always loved singing, but didn’t feel my voice was quite right for most music written for sopranos,” she said. “I tried the guitar and classic harp, but my hands seemed too small.”
The she met her harp.
“I fell completely in love,” she said.
The clairseach, so steeped in Irish culture that it is the stuff of legend as well as immortalized on the nation’s coins, is a small triangular shaped instrument with wire, usually brass, strings. Played by the fingernails, it produces a bright metallic sound that some liken to bells. The ancient vocals that it accompanies call for a throaty sound.
“I could see that I was bred through generations to play this type of music,” said Caera. “The songs felt good in my throat. They seemed to be written for my kind of voice.”
Her small hands also fit the instrument, and she began to study in earnest the mythical music of her ancestors.
This also included learning the languages. An auditory learner, she listened to CD’s and started on her own to master the three forms of Gaelic language as well as Spanish.
Caera was surprised to discover that despite a strong Irish presence, Boston offered few opportunities for learning the Irish language or its musical history. She finally found solace in the huge and active Boston branch of the Society for Creative Anachronism, an international group dedicated to researching and re-creating pre-17th century European history.
The society of like minded enthusiasts encouraged her to regain her heritage, and three trips to Ireland embellished this.
“I love Ireland,” she said, “and hope to move there one day.” She also plans to search for lost relatives.
In the meantime, she pleases local audiences, which she finds steadily growing in appreciation of Celtic music.
Earlier this month, she was selected to showcase her performance at several venues in the New England Music Organization (NEMO) Festival, presenters of the Boston Music Awards.
“I noticed they were lacking in Celtic musicians,” she said, “so I tried out.”
They welcomed her with open arms.
Last August, Caera won awards in three categories at the 24th Annual Columbus Feis in Ohio, celebrating the culture and heritage of Ireland and the Irish people. She has recorded two CD’s – “Wake the Dragon” with a group, and “Through Misty Air,” her first solo effort whose release she celebrates at the Oct. 15 concert.
Caera’s intimate and interactive performances reflect her interest in the sean-nos singing tradition of Ireland, allowing a wide variety of emotional expression through vocal control, and the puirt-a-beul or mouth music of Scotland.
She introduces each of her selections, written in both English and Irish Gaelic, and cherishes comments from her audience, including “Now I know the angels sing in Gaelic.”

written by Elizabeth Sembower, staff writer, for the Chelmsford Independent, Thursday, October 7th, 2004
- Chelmsford Independent


Discography

Caniadau -- Mor Gwyddelig EP, 2002
Go Raibh Maith Agat -- Caera EP, 2003
Wake the Dragon -- Mor Gwyddelig album, 2004
Through Misty Air -- Caera album, 2004
Traditional Irish Gaelic Children's Songs -- Caera book and CD set, 2006
Suantraighe: A Collection of Celtic Lullabies -- Caera album, 2006
Eist le mo Sceal (Listen to my Story) -- Caera album, 2006

Photos

Bio

From haunting Celtic lullabies, through songs of intense grief and pain, to strains of healing and hope, Caera’s music always contains an authenticity that can be hard to find in today’s music, or even in today’s world in general. Beautiful, powerful soprano vocals blend with the bell-like tones of her brass-strung Gaelic harp to create music that carries people through emotional, physical, and spiritual realms.

Caera performs a variety of songs from a variety of time periods and places. She performs songs and chants from the Middle Ages, mostly from northern and western Europe. She also has an ever-growing repertoire of traditional songs from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and the Isle of Man. Many of these songs are in the native languages of these countries. She has a particularly strong interest in the sean nos singing tradition of Ireland, and in the puirt a beul (mouth music) singing tradition in Scotland. She has studied these styles in the Boston area and in Ireland. In addition, Caera writes her own original songs, in English as well as in Irish Gaelic.

While Caera is very passionate about the music, languages, history, and spirituality of her Celtic ancestors, she is also very concerned with the real struggles of real people in today’s world. She may write and sing about timeless goddesses and fairies or modern women and children with the same passion and intensity. Her music is imbued with Celtic mysticism but it also stays real.

Throughout her career as a performing musician, Caera’s singing has been compared to that of Máire ‘Moya’ Brennan (of Clannad), Nóirín ní Riain, Karen Mattheson (of Capercaillie), Karan Casey, Loreena McKennitt, and several other notable singers in Celtic music. She has also collected such comments from her audiences as “Now I know the angels sing in Gaelic,” and “I would walk on broken glass to hear you sing.”

Caera has released five full-length albums, and has performed and sold CD’s throughout the U.S., Canada, and parts of Europe. She has won at least 9 gold medals for Gaelic singing, poetry, and harp performance at various Feisean (Gaelic competitions). Several publications, including “The Boston Globe” and Canada’s “Celtic Heritage” magazine, have run feature articles about Caera and her music. And her biggest accomplishment to date is to have been on two official ballots for the 2008 Grammy Awards.

Whether through spiritual dreamworlds or through the day to day struggles of the world we all share, this music can augment your journeys with sweetness and strength.

For more information or booking, please call (206)495-8193, or email caerasinger[at]gmail[dot]com (type it correctly to prove you’re not a spambot). Caera’s electronic press kit is available online at www.sonicbids.com/caera . Her own web site is http://caeramusic.wordpress.com , and her music can also be found at www.myspace.com/IrishHarper and www.facebook.com/IrishHarper .