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Rachael McShane

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Rachael McShane is best known as the cellist, singer, fiddle player (and only girl!) in 11-piece folk big-band Bellowhead. She is now embarking on a solo career, working alongside musicians whose backgrounds are rooted more in jazz, soul and funk than in folk. Rachael’s band, featuring James Peacock – piano, Jonathan Proud – bass and Adam Sinclair – drums, combine their eclectic influences to create interesting and exciting arrangements of traditional songs.

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Her debut album ‘No Man’s Fool’ is rich with tales of many men, ranging from kind-hearted, well-meaning gentlemen to thieves, mysterious strangers and somewhat sinister characters. However it is the shrewd and audacious women who shine through in these traditional songs.

Rachael’s album ‘No Man’s Fool’ is out on 3rd August 2009 on Navigator Records.

Originally from Penistone in South Yorkshire, Rachael began performing at an early age, playing her first gig aged 8 at Holmfirth Folk Festival. Rachael was one of the first year group to graduate with a degree in folk and traditional music from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 2005. During her time at Newcastle University, Rachael formed 5-piece band CrossCurrent with fellow students and they recorded their debut album ‘Momentum’ in 2005. CrossCurrent parted ways in October 2007 as all members were becoming increasingly busy with other projects. Rachael also became a member of big-band Bellowhead whilst she was a student and has since toured internationally with them, as well as making TV appearances performing on Later with Jools Holland (alongside Thom Yorke and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers) and at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms 2008.

Rachael occasionally lends her talents to fantastic singer-songwriter Beccy Owen, traditional singer Emily Portman and leading English concertina player Alistair Anderson, all based in and around Newcastle. In addition to its highly regarded folk scene, Newcastle has a vibrant and eclectic music scene, which inspired Rachael to work with musicians from outside the sphere of folk music for her solo project.

In March 2009 Rachael was one of 8 artists chosen to celebrate the bi-centennial of the birth of Charles Darwin as part of the Darwin Song Project, a songwriting retreat in rural Shropshire. Rachael worked alongside Chris Wood, Karine Polwart, Mark Erelli, Jez Lowe, Stu Hanna, Krista Detor and Emily Smith and the songs were performed at the brand new Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury. Spiral Earth went along to the house and recorded interviews with the musicians, Rachael's can be seen on the right of this page.


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