Few published collections of Gaelic song place the songs or their singers and communities in context. Brigh an Orain - A Story in Every Song corrects this, showing how the inherited art of a fourth-generation Canadian Gael fits within biographical, social, and historical contexts. It is the first major study of its kind to be undertaken for a Scottish Gaelic singer. The forty-eight songs and nine folktales in the collection are transcribed from field recordings and presented as the singer performed them, with an English translation provided. All the songs are accompanied by musical transcriptions. The book also includes a brief autobiography in Lauchie MacLellan's entertaining narrative style. John Shaw has added extensive notes and references, as well as photos and maps. In an era of growing appreciation of Celtic cultures, Brigh an Orain - A Story in Every Song makes an important Gaelic tradition available to the general reader. The materials also serve as a unique, adaptable resource for those with more specialized research or teaching interests in ethnology/folklore, Canadian studies, Gaelic language, ethnomusicology, Celtic studies, anthropology, and social history.
John Shaw is the editor and translator of Tales Until Dawn: The World of a Cape Breton Gaelic Story-Teller and Brigh an Orain: A Story in Every Song. He is senior lecturer in ethnology at the University of Edinburgh.