Scottish singer Eddi Reader revisits her roots at folk festival

Thu Aug 7, 2014 7:15am EDT
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By Claire Milhench

CAMBRIDGE England (Reuters) - "This is my Aunty Molly's coat," Scottish singer-songwriter Eddi Reader, resplendent in a vintage gold-colored jacket, told the crowd at the Cambridge Folk Festival. "She was 97 when she died. I like having her on stage with me."

Reader, who played two sets at the folk festival's 50th anniversary last weekend, charmed festival-goers as much with her wit as her diverse repertoire.

Jazz standards, medieval Gaelic songs and new tracks from her latest album "Vagabond" were on the set list, as was Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic", which she performed as a tribute to one of her favorite artists. Morrison closed out the festival on Sunday.

Reader said she found the coat while clearing house after her aunt's death, along with some books and papers written by her great-uncle James Reader, who fought to help the Irish win independence and then became a founder of the abortive Scottish Republican Army.

She is now a passionate advocate for Scottish independence, having reconnected with her heritage when she returned home in 2001 after the death of her father.

"I felt a bit embarrassed that I didn't know more about my own culture, and I questioned why that was," she told Reuters backstage at the festival. 

Growing up in Glasgow and Irvine, Reader performed in folk clubs in her teens before moving away for 28 years.

Her homecoming culminated in a critically acclaimed album of songs written by Robert Burns, released in 2003.   Continued...