Corrina Hewat: Between Life and Music (Interview)

Plus: Nova Scotia singer/songwriter Layne Greene for our EP review, Lady of the Woods: New Single from Jamie Smith’s Mabon album Windblown and Cormac O Caoimh

Corrina Hewat is our featured artist this week. She is a mom, a harp teacher, and a good friend to the harp community. She is promoting her project the Harp Village . “We have The Duplets, Maire Ni Chathasaigh and me and David the whole weekend, so it is a lovely mix of music and company!! The more people who come along, the better, so all publicity is great.”

Corrina Hewat has an eclectic sound. She walks between the world of traditional and avant-garde music. Listening to her album My Favorite Place  her project bands including  BACHUÉ give me a glimpse to her wide influences. Her music captures the Celtic sense of atmosphere and space while her refined style made her recordings at home with the urban world.

You have a huge catalog or recordings now. Do you have recordings you wish you could have improved? I am not saying they need improvement because your recordings sound polished but personally what do you think ?

All my recordings are purely ‘snapshots’ of where I was then. All the recordings are affected by where they were recorded, who was playing, how I was/we were at the time. I only ever set out to capture moments of time, and I believe that is what they all are. Every single one of them I would change and every single one of them I would keep the same as well. I don’t tend to listen to myself too much, and it only ever comes up on shuffle in the car mostly, so I can press ‘skip’ and move on. Or sometimes I listen and say ‘woah, what the heck was I thinking?!!’. Or ‘ooh that is a surprising bit’ or ‘wish I had done that instead’ or all sorts. Anyway, it’s all past stuff, so I don’t really have time to think about what I would have done better. I could have done it all better. And I will always think that.

So far, how is the experience working with BACHUÉ. Is there another BACHUÉ project in the making ?

I loved Bachue very much. It was a good fun thing and a happy thing. But it got swamped with all the other stuff that was going on, so it took a back seat for a while. I am going to do a duo gig with David Milligan in September at the Harp Village (28th – 30th September in Cromarty, The Black Isle in the Highlands of Scotland and that will be the first time in ages we actually have done a gig together in such an intimate format. I’m looking forward to it. We play well together!!

You also teach harp. Does teaching come first and being an artist second?

 Being an artist/musician comes first. Not that teaching comes second, but at the moment for me, I still want to write music, play and perform music, and if I can fit in teaching as well, then I do. I took on the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Principal Scottish Harp Tutor job last year, and I have the help and support of Heather Downie. If I didn’t have that secondary support, then I couldn’t have said yes to it. I believe I need to continue to work towards being an inspired, creative musician and writer and strive to better myself and my work. My students will then have a happy, sharing, generous, inspired teacher. I have very few private pupils, due to my time constraints and time away touring or teaching workshops/week-long schools.

How has motherhood shaped your music and what is different now compared to when you were starting being a recording artist?

Motherhood changed me completely. Life is a joy, not a struggle now. (I used to think it was all so hard. And had a heap of crap I was carrying on my shoulders which I needed to unburden myself of, to move on.) And I lived a very ‘messy’ lifestyle but now there is no need for all that. The joy is in me and around me. Music is a joy – although finding time for it is slightly complicated sometimes. But I love being a mother so much. It ‘completed’ things for me which I didn’t realise needed completing! And I still believe my life, the traveling, the ‘being all consumed by music when in the middle of writing it’, and all that goes with being a musician, is still worth it, as I am a more fulfilled person. And if I am happy then I am a better mum.

What are the things you want to introduce to the harp scene? What is your grand vision?

I wanted to introduce a more relaxed approach to harp, and a more relaxed and creative approach to arranging. I found when I started playing that there were very few arrangements out there I even liked! Boring chordal movements, same patterns over and over again, as if that was all the harp could do! So pretty much as soon as I started learning the harp, (around the age of 12 or 13) I started writing music on the harp, arranging traditional tunes, putting mad sets together, learning music off tapes (remember them??!). I had a great teacher to start me off – Christine Martin (who is the book publisher Taigh Na Teud) – she gave me the basics, introduced me to the Clarsach Society (who I eventually hired a harp from for many years), and introduced me to the work of Savourna Stevenson. That gave me the impetus to keep writing and playing and trying to make more of the instrument. I have had amazing teachers, although sporadic. Christine for a year, then yearly weekend courses until I went to the RSAMD (now called the RCS) where i had Sanchia Pielou for a year. Then Maire Ni Chathasaigh when I was doing the jazz degree course. These three teachers gave me so much input and I thank them for it. I was a ‘wayward’ child, and they steered me well. Sileas also gave me inspiration as they were doing fun things with the harp in trad music.

My grand vision?? I want to inspire folk with my music. Inspire them emotionally, move them. Write music which people can live with and enjoy. Move them like I have been moved by others music.

Please visit the Harp Village project here:

Sample recordings:

A live clip of the Unusual Suspects at The Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, 29 January 2011 as part of the Celtic Connections Festival. Featuring the tunes “Sandy Broon’s” & “Bogle’s Majority”.
Corrina Hewat (harp/vocal)
Ewan Robertson (guitar/vocal)
Eilidh Shaw (fiddle)
Anna Massie (fiddle)
Catriona Macdonald (fiddle)
Patsy Reid (fiddle)
Mairearad Green (accordion/ pipes)
Calum MacCrimmon (pipes/ whistle)
Donal Brown (pipes/flute)
Rick Taylor (trombone)
Nigel Hitchcock (saxophone)
Ryan Quigley (trumpet)
Colin Steele (trumpet)
Dave Milligan (piano)
Tom Lyne (bass)
Alyn Cosker (drums)
Donald Hay (percussion)

Here’s a clip of Scottish harp player Corrina Hewat playing a jig she wrote for Martyn Bennett. This is from Corrina’s online Scottish harp (clarsach) course at Check it out at


Lady of the Woods: New Single from Jamie Smith’s Mabon.

Album art for 'Windblown"

Ok I have heard the entire song and I like it! It is catchy, well crafted and the vocal harmonies are amazing. First time I heard a vocal track from the band that is known to perform great instrumental tunes. If you haven’t yet have  a listen here and also download the track for FREE: 

If you are a band I’d suggest you get a photographer this band has. The pictures do an amazing way to promote the music!


Nova Scotia singer/songwriter Layne Greene with Live!EP

Tea buddies: Layne Greene-Vocals/Guitar
Alexander MacNeil-Guitar
Artwork by The Celtic Music Fan.

Carving the modern Nova Scotia with the stories of people and places.

Genre: Folk

Released  August 30, 2012

Layne Greene-Vocals/Guitar
Alex MacNeil-Guitar
Shawn Bisson-Mixing/Engineer
Andy Cunningham- Photography/crew

Knox Presbyterian Church located in Blue Mountain, Nova Scotia

Recording a crisp clear album impromptu takes a lot of skill to achieve. But singer/songwriter Layne Greene has been mixing and arranging music for years. So the live EP was conceived out of the desire to come up with songs that he recorded and arranged in the past but wanted a different take on them. This  Business Administration major from St. Francis Xavier University(now in his sophomore year) juggles between making music and seeing himself producing them in the future. He even jokes that :” If worse comes to worse, I can work a crappy, well

paying, desk job”. Well I am sure it won’t come to that because he makes excellent songs that are well crafted.

One of the songs here called Working Man is dedicated to his grandfather who is a carpenter and builder of musical instruments. There are other songs that are biographical in nature. His lyrics show an introspective and philosophical nature. Although he admits that he isn’t much of a lyrics guy. He is more prone to think of songs like cathedrals with their intricate structures and designs.

Alexander MacNeil is a jazz musician who is also working with Layne on another recording. He adds his distinctive guitar style to this project. He  also did the backing vocals in Iron Town. He has his own jazz Trio and Quartet. You can tell that these two made a great tandem in this EP.

One of the things that I really appreciate about this EP is the atmospheric beauty of all the tracks.  I asked Layne if they used studio reverb and he said no. Everything in this project- especially the acoustic density -is through the interior of the  Knox Presbyterian Church located in Blue Mountain, Nova Scotia, Canada. Engineering/mixing credit goes to  Shawn Bisson who flawlessly captured the soul of the venue with such exquisite attention to detail.


Music VLOG: Cormac O Caoimh – Just Love here

I recent;y got acquainted with this wonderful artist who just released his album A New Season for Love. I am impressed with his vocal quality. I love it and his music is really worth your ears after  a long day’s work.


More album reviews coming up in a few days!


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