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- WOMEX 2013
Catrin O'Neill grew up by the sea in Southern Snowdonia, surrounded by a wealth of traditional Welsh music and culture. Her Grandmother or Nain, was one of the first to introduce her to the magic of folk songs, often sung in the kitchen beside the warm Aga with a cup of tea in hand.
"I took my guitar and had five years of travel," she says. "I produced children's cabaret shows in the depths of China and was a chorus line dancer in the Bollywood film industry in India, among other things." Now settled back in Wales, she is fast becoming a rising star of the Welsh folk scene, with her first album 'Nain's Kitchen/Cegin Nain' being released in spring 2010. Since returning, her musical explorations have continued but somewhat closer to home. The influence of her Irish ancestry and love of Breton dance and its music can clearly be heard in her performances. However it is in the Welsh music that her true passion lies.
"Welsh folk music has been overlooked for so long" says Catrin, "Even well known Celtic musicians not really being aware of its existence. Many people think that our folk music consists of Hymns or male voice choirs, so far from the reality. The true folk music of Wales can be compared to the carefree passion of Irish, or the beauty of Breton music, but with it bringing harmonies and a poetic tradition to rival that of anywhere in the world. I think it would be very mean of us not to share it!"
It is her humour and ability to tell a story, transporting the audience to places past and present, that really set her aside from other folk singers. She often plays solo but also as a duo or as part of a four piece incorporating harp, two fiddles, bouzouki, pipes and whistle.