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Karen Matheson

Known for her dulcet tone and fluid vocal range, Karen Matheson is a Scottish folk singer who earned her reputation as the frontwoman for popular Celtic group Capercaillie. Her ability to shift nimbly between English and Gaelic helped her stand out in the folk scene and by the late 1990s, she had also launched a successful solo career with her debut album, The Dreaming Sea. Guest spots with Canadian folk-rock band Spirit of the West and an appearance in the film Rob Roy helped expand her audience for subsequent releases like 2005's Downriver and 2015's Urram. Both as a solo artist and with Capercaillie, Matheson has maintained a liberal approach to traditional music, frequently infusing it with modern electronic and rock instrumentation. In 2021, she released her long-awaited fifth solo album, Still Time. Growing up in the small Scottish village of Taynuilt in Argyll, Matheson began singing at a young age, carrying on the Gaelic tradition learned from her mother and grandmother. Playing at local village halls in Western Scotland throughout her youth, she formed Capercaillie with several high school friends in the mid-'80s. After a couple of more traditionally arranged Celtic albums, the group gained a reputation for adding progressive worldbeat elements to their sound, a concept Matheson similarly applied to her solo output beginning with 1996's The Dreaming Sea. Her soothing lilt and easy manner with Gaelic lyrics helped make her one of Scotland's leading traditional singers and she spent the bulk of the 2000s nurturing her burgeoning solo career with albums like Time to Fall (2002) and Downriver (2005) and singing with Capercaillie. By the middle of the decade her star had risen high enough to be awarded OBE honors. Working with husband and fellow Capercaillie member Donald Shaw on both endeavors, Matheson sang on two more Capercaillie LPs before returning to solo work in 2015 with Urram, an album devoted to her family's ties to the Hebridean islands. After a six-year gap, she released 2021's poignant Still Time.
© Timothy Monger & Bradley Torreano /TiVo
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