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Video Premiere: Daisy Chute - 'Cradle Song'

By Jof Owen

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While her musical roots are born out of her Scottish-American heritage, Daisy Chute’s music captures the myriad of influences that she's soaked up over the years. She trained in both jazz and classical at Edinburgh’s St Mary’s Music School, The Purcell School of Music and King’s College, London, which lead to her performing as the first vocalist for the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland.

Daisy went on to release a critically-acclaimed album of jazz standards at just age 15, before she released three albums as a lead singer in the platinum-selling classical group All Angels.

To celebrate Burns Night in January, she released an EP of collaborations with composer Michael Csányi-Willis, reimagining the poems of three female Scottish poets and setting them to music, along with fiddle player Elisabeth Flett.

”Burns Night is a tradition I hold dear, especially as a displaced Scot in London”, she explained. “But every year we gather and recite the same poetry and songs, and I've often wondered about all the Scottish poetry that gets left unread, especially from the female perspective. I wanted to unearth some lesser-known poetry so ‘Cradle Songs’ are settings of the poems I discovered and connected with on my hunt.”

The poems cover various themes: mourning, in the case of Mary Queen of Scots' ‘Melancholy Air’; unrequited love in Marion Angus' ‘Mary's Song’, and motherhood in 'Cradle Song', a poem by Carolina Oliphant, a poet and songwriter whose ambiguity in literary history has ranged from being described as Scotland’s greatest woman poet to being lumped in with minor writers.

Born in 1766, Oliphant was inspired by Robert Burns and his tours of Scotland, travelling around absorbing its history and traditions – including its songs – and she began rescuing traditional songs, rewriting their words or writing completely new words to go with old tunes.

Over two centuries on and Daisy Chute is picking up that same tradition, rescuing poems and resetting them to music, adding shadowy strings to her lushly orchestrated folk and bringing the poetry of Carolina Oliphant to a new audience. Combining her musical backgrounds in Celtic folk, American roots, classical and jazz and reimagining ‘Cradle Song’ as a haunting lullaby and a paean to the enduring strength and pain of motherhood.

“Now hush-a-ba, lammie, now hush-a my dear / Now hush-a-ba, lammie; ain minnie is here / The wild wind is ravin', and mammie's heart's sair / The wild wind is ravin', and ye dinna care”, she sings, as a quiet storm of strings flurries around her.

The video for Cradle Song is premiering exclusively on Holler below.

Daisy Chute’s UK tour continues at The Greys in Brighton on March 14th, Kings Place in London on March 17th and The Listening Room in Oxford on March 18th.