Chatting with Karen Matheson

20130118-140902.jpgDescribed by Sean Connery as having ‘a throat surely touched by the hand of God’ and Billboard magazine have named her ‘the finest Gaelic singer alive today’, so it was a great honour to be invitied to have a quick chat with Karen Matheson ahead of her Burns Night concerts in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry.

The acclaimed Scottish folk singer and lead singer for Capercaillie is coming back to Belfast where she will join the Ulster Orchestra for a Burns Night concert to remember.

I caught up with Karen to have a quick chat about her career and her plans for 2013.

How does it feel to get such high praise from Sean Connery and Billboard Magazine?

Karen laughed and reckons you have to take these things with a pinch of salt, but for Sean Connery to comment on you, well, it’s very flattering.

Do you feel a bit guilty leaving Scotland on Burns night to play in the Ulster Hall?

Haha, Burns night lasts for about a month in Scotland and I’ve already been to a few events celebrating it. In fact, last night we performed at the opening night of the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow for their 20th Anniversary. I was talking to Cara Dillon and we were saying how exciting it is to play with an orchestra, especially one as good as the Ulster Orchestra. So my Belfast Burns Night in the Ulster Hall will be a special and memorable night.

What are your plans for this year, have you any new music coming out?

Yes actually, 2013 is the 30th Anniversary of Capercaillie and we are working on a new album, due to be released this summer to celebrate.

Is there anything on your ‘to do’ list either professionally or personally that you’d like to do? 20130118-140911.jpg

It’s so easy for a singer to take their voice for granted, so I just want to continue to be able to sing and do what I love doing. Professionally though I have already done so much, including playing at the Hanging Gardens of Babylon on a tour of the Middle East, and playing gigs in the middle of nowhere in Brazil to people who have never heard of Scotland never mind Gaelic music. The last 30 years have given me so many amazing experiences.

Is it true you sang in the Eurovision Song Contest?

Haha, yes I did, and what an amazing experience, even though we came 2nd from last place or something. More bizarrely, we were representing France at the contest in Oslo. We weren’t surprised about having so few votes though, we had been pre warned that due to some political issues, that no one would be voting for France..haha, it’s all political isn’t it, but it was another amazing experience.

Do you use Twitter or Facebook to connect with your fans?

Actually no I don’t, I’m not very social media or computer oriented, but maybe that’s something I should put on my ‘to do’ list this year!

Karen was such a pleasure to talk to and she’s excited to be coming back to Belfast to play with our amazing orchestra, but remember you heard it here first, a new album from Capercaillie, and maybe, just maybe, a twitter or Facebook account!

Make sure you get your tickets for the special Burns night concerts in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry when the orchestra will perform the Songs of Robert Burns to mark the birthday (his 254th) of Scotland’s National Poet. The evenings are presented by Belfast-born Alan Mckee, one half of comedy duo Grimes and McKee, and conducted by David Brophy.

Tickets for Friday 25th January’s concert in Belfast are available from the Ulster Orchestra on 028 9023 9955 or at

Tickets for Saturday 26th January’s concert in Derry/Londonderry are available from the Millennium Forum on 028 7126 4455 or at

Post Author: Belfast Times