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Mary Ann Kennedy (Scottish singer)

Mary Ann Kennedy (Màiri Anna NicUalraig),[1] is a Scottish musician, singer, choral director, composer, radio and television presenter, and music producer.

Mary Ann Kennedy
Kennedy in 2007
Kennedy in 2007
EducationRoyal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Royal Northern College of Music
Occupationsinger, musician, composer, broadcaster
Musical career
GenresGaelic song and music
InstrumentsVocals, harp, piano



Mary Ann Kennedy was born and brought up in Glasgow in a Gaelic-speaking household. Her mother, Dr Kenna Campbell MBE, is a prominent Gaelic tradition-bearer and teacher, and is one of the Campbell musical dynasty from Greepe on the Isle of Skye, a renowned family of singers and pipers.[2] Her father, Alasdair Kennedy (d. 2004) was from the Isle of Tiree.[3][4]

She trained as a classical musician from the age of six, starting out on piano and later taking up the clàrsach (small Scottish harp) and concert harp.[3] She spent all her early years with the Russian-trained Australian pianist, Elisabeth Jacobs, and with the Irish concert harpist Sanchia Pielou, founding member of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra [5][6] She went on to study as a pianist at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, and undertook postgraduate research and training at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester with Welsh concert harpist Eira Lynn Jones. She completed her Master's degree there in 1995, and was the first harpist in the College's history to be awarded its highest performance diploma.[7] Her thesis was a study of Gaelic puirt a beul, or 'mouth music', a speciality of her mother's family.

From 1993 she lived and worked in Inverness as a news presenter and musician, latterly running the national Gaelic news service.[3] She presented the long-running series Mary Ann Kennedy's Global Gathering (previously Celtic Connections) for BBC Radio Scotland until 2012,[8] and currently presents World on 3 on BBC Radio 3.[9] Since 1994, she has co-presented Sruth na Maoile, a bilingual Irish-Scottish Gaelic music series with Seán Ó hÉanaigh[10] for BBC Radio nan Gàidheal and RTÉ Ráidió na Gaeltachta[11] - the only radio co-production between the two stations in those 23 years.

Kennedy has received several awards, including a Saltire Society Award for her Highland Festival commission, Lasair Dhè, and "Radio Presenter of the Year 2007" from the Celtic Media Festival.


Kennedy was a member of the highly-acclaimed Gaelic band ‘Cliar’, winners of ‘all-time’ Best Album at the inaugural Scots Trad Music Awards. Her recent work has concentrated on a major book and album project, ‘Fonn’, showcasing the music and history of her mother’s family, the Campbell singing dynasty and an album celebrating Glasgow’s immigrant Gaelic song heritage, to be released in 2016. An album of Kennedy's original Gaelic songs and settings of 20th and 21st Century poets is scheduled for early 2017.


Kennedy has produced records by, among others, James Graham, Donnie Murdo MacLeod, Ceòlraidh Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu,[12] Ailie Robertson, Catriona Watt, Atomic Piseag, Shona Mooney, Bannal, Cliar, and Jenna Cumming. She runs the residential recording and creative facility, Watercolour Music Studios, with her husband Nick Turner from their base near Fort William in the West Highlands.[13]


  1. ^ BBC Alba: Highlights from the Royal National Mod
  2. ^ "Dr Kenna Campbell MBE – Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2017-12-05.
  3. ^ a b c "Mary Ann Kennedy". BBC. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
  4. ^ "Alasdair Kennedy Engineer who built a sense of Gaelic community". HeraldScotland. Retrieved 2017-12-05.
  5. ^ MacLeod, Campbell, Kennedy, Macdonald ed. (2012). Fonn - The Campbells of Greepe: Music and a Sense of Place in a Gaelic Family Song Tradition. Stornoway, Scotland: Acair Books. pp. 79, 80. ISBN 978-0-86152-353-5.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  6. ^ "Sanchia Pielou - Obituary, Glasgow Herald". October 1993.
  7. ^ "RNCM - School of Strings, Harp Department".
  8. ^ Higgins, Kate (February 2012). "Bella Caledonia - Global Gathering".
  9. ^ "BBC Radio 3 - World on 3". March 2016.
  10. ^ "Seán Ó hÉanaigh - biography". Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich. Archived from the original on 4 April 2016.
  11. ^ "BBC Radio nan Gaidheal - Sruth na Maoile". August 2015.
  12. ^ "Glasgow Gaelic Musical Association". Glasgow Gaelic Musical Association. GGMA. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  13. ^ "NMC Recordings: Mary Ann Kennedy biography (PRSF New Music Biennial)". August 2014.

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