Singer songwriter Anna Shannon is to appear at a special Moonbeams folk music event at Harpham village hall at the weekend Anna is an acclaimed singer-songwriter from North Yorkshire.
On Saturday 12 April, she is scheduled to play at Harpham Village Hall as part of a “Moonbeams” event organised by Lowthorpe’s Leila Cooper. Here, in an exclusive interview with “Pulse” author Steve Rudd, Anna shares her passion for all things musical
Hi Anna, how are things, and how has 2014 treated you so far?
Things are pretty good, thanks. 2014 is set to be an exciting year. I have written more songs and am busy with lots of projects.
How many years have you been writing and performing, and what was it that first got you hooked on music?
I was brought up on Classical music, my uncle being a woodwind teacher. He taught me flute, oboe, clarinet, trumpet and French horn. I got into Folk in my twenties and started writing approximately twenty years ago. I only started writing and performing seriously in 2006.
Talking of 2006, how did it feel to be announced as BBC Radio’s “Yorkshire Songwriter of the Year” in the same year?
I was delighted. I sent some tracks in to the competition not thinking I would win at all. We had the radio on and I was so shocked to hear I had won. I ran across our field with some wine, shouting to my neighbours that I had won!
Do you enjoy playing any particular instrument more than any others?
I love my oboe when I am having a good day, but it takes so much energy. I am really enjoying learning the accordion, and I’ve just bought a gorgeous bowed psaltery (a stringed instrument of the zither family). “Chapel Guitars” (based at Ebberston) have also let me have a superb soprano guitar. I love whistles when I am feeling very Irish, and the sax when I’m boisterous!
In what ways has your background in Classical music benefited your passion for Folk?
It’s handy to be able to read music, as I can then sight-read and pick up tunes quickly. Also, writing music down when I get an idea makes sure I don’t forget tunes that are brewing. A lot of my instruments have transferred from Classical to Folk which is handy. My favourite thing is arranging parts for the songs, and this is when the Classical background comes to the fore.
In terms of composing, recording and releasing music, you’re fiendishly prolific. Of all the albums you’ve produced over the past ten years, which are your favourites, and why?
Hard one. I’ve released ten albums, and they are all very different. I tend not to listen to them because I am always busy with new stuff. My next album is always going to be my best! I have just been signed to “Wild Goose Records” which is great, and I’m recording my new album with them in May. It’s entitled “A Celebration of Old England”. So that is my favourite at the moment! I’m really enjoying arranging the instrumental parts. There will be everything on it from bowed psaltery and chanter (part of a bagpipe), to bazouki and English recorders. I have sixteen tracks prepared, but will decide which thirteen or fourteen to keep. I can’t wait to get in there and start. I always feel nervous about recording the guitars, but love all the instrumentation.
What is it about performing sea shanties which so appeals to you?
My sea songs aren’t actually working shanties; they are songs of a maritime nature. I have ballads and stories, but I enjoy singing the rougher songs that should really be sung by men! Coming from Scarborough, Roy and I know a lot of the old salts from the old town. It’s here I can get a lot of tales for my songs. I like to write true stories of the sea.
Come Saturday 12th April, you’re scheduled to perform at Harpham Village Hall as part of one of Leila Cooper’s “Moonbeams” events. How did you first come across Leila, and what is it about “Moonbeams” events that you enjoy the most?
I first met Leila when she came to see one of my Scarborough gigs. As soon as I saw her, I knew I had met a very special person. She is wonderful. Leila has been so supportive over the years. Her enthusiasm rubs off on everyone around her. The “Moonbeams” events are what music is all about: they are friendly, fun, welcoming and exciting. The “Moonbeams Festival” is always fantastic. Last year, my whole family camped and watched me sing. It was very, very special.
Finally, what’s the best way for folk to keep up-to-date with Anna Shannon-related news?
Look at my www.annashannon.co.uk website for gigs. I’m also fond of “Facebook” and put all my music news, along with daily happenings of life in the caravan and the field and forest, on there.