Solo Work & Projects | Brian Ó hEadhra & Fionnag NicChoinnich | Mckerron Brechin Ó hEadhra | Early Years | Anam | Cruinn
Based in Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland, Brian Ó hEadhra is an acclaimed singer-songwriter/musician performing solo/session artist and with acts Brian Ó hEadhra | Fionnag NicChoinnich, and McKerron Brechin Ó hEadhra. Brian performs traditional and contemporary music and song predominantly in Gaelic and English and has toured the globe as a professional musician and has been recorded on over twenty albums over a thirty-year career. Nominated for Gaelic Singer of the Year at the 2020 Trad Music Awards (Scotland), fRoots magazine described him as "...the most vocally talented, versatile and engaging male vocalist in Gaeldom."
Solo Work and Projects
Brian has released two solo albums and has been involved in various cultural projects and recordings over his career. In 2003 his record label Anam Communications released the album An Turas by Christine Primrose and Brian Ó hEadhra. This album features songs in Irish and Scottish Gaelic sung with no or minimum accompaniment. Brian started learning Gaelic song through classes by Christine at the Gaelic college - Sabhal Mòr Ostaig where he was learning Gaelic in 2000.
In 2005 Brian released his first solo album of English language self-penned songs, called Life. This album is an eclectic mix of folk, Americana and ballads, with subjects dealing with love, mortality, politics and society. In 2011 Brechin All Records released Brian's second solo album called An t-Allt. This work consists of songs written by Brian in Scottish Gaelic and English as well as a mixture of traditional and contemporary songs from Scotland and Ireland.
You can hear Brian singing in Scots and English on the five-album collection of the Complete Songs of Robert Tannahill. Robert Tannahill (3 June 1774 – 17 May 1810) was a Scottish poet from Paisley. Known as the 'Weaver Poet', he wrote poetry in English and lyrics in Scots in the wake of Robert Burns. Tannahill wrote many songs for the Irish immigrants who came to Scotland for work at this time.
In 2017 Brian took part in the live show, album and TV programme Struileag. Struileag was a show about the people of the Gaelic diaspora. It takes us on a journey into the diaspora in a vivid fusion of visual spectacle, drama and music.
Brian set up and continues to run the successful online Seinn Air Loidhne - Gaelic Song Classes. Sessions run at different times throughout the year and students from across the globe attend these hugely enjoyable and informative classes. Brian also teaches at various fèisean, festivals and events over the year in subjects including Gaelic singing, folk song, folk guitar, bodhran, song-writing, harmony singing, group work, and Gaelic language.
Brian continues to enjoy performing and recording with various musicians and singers at home and abroad. Check out concert listings on the home page of this website.
Brian Ó hEadhra & Fionnag NicChoinnich
Brian Ó hEadhra & Fionnag NicChoinnich perform songs from the Gaelic, Scots and Irish traditions as well as newly composed material drawing inspiration from music and cultures primarily from the North Atlantic fringe.
Fionnag received the Gaelic Singer of the Year award at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Awards 2020 whilst Brian was nominated for the same award in 2019.
The duo has recorded three albums; TÌR - Highland Life & Lore, TUATH - Songs of the Northlands, and Càirdeas. TÌR was nominated for Album of the Year at the 2018 International Folk Awards. All albums have received high critical and public acclaim with TÌR being described as “…destined to become a classic of contemporary folk music... an inspired, beautiful album” by Folk Radio and TUATH as a "masterpiece" by Irish Music Magazine. Càirdeas was nominated for Album of the Year at the 2021 Trad Music Awards and described by Irish Music Magazine as "one of the most appealing acoustic albums of the year... this is a work of deep cultural importance... the album is a model for every artist who has something to say and sing about.".
"Brian Ó hEadhra and Fionnag NicChoinnich are two extraordinary artists... Both are outstanding singers and songwriters and some of the best voices in the world of Gaelic language." World Music Central
McKerron Brechin Ó hEadhra
Fiery tunes and beautiful songs from the Gaelic and Scots traditions by three of Scotland’s finest musicians. The Scottish trad trio of Charlie McKerron (fiddle), Sandy Brechin (piano accordion) and Brian Ó hEadhra (guitar & vocals) are three accomplished musicians who draw on a wealth of tunes and songs from the Gaelic and Scots traditions. Their latest album 'Le Chèile' was released in 2022.
They each are acclaimed composers in their own right. The trio have performed in Scotland and abroad and has wowed audiences with their choice of material and engaging stage performances. Each artist is also known through their work with other acclaimed acts; Charlie performs with Capercaille and Session A9; Sandy with Bùrach and the Sandy Brechin Band; Brian with Cruinn and Brian Ó hEadhra & Fionnag NicChoinnich.
"A sparkling array of instrumentals match drive with delicacy, soul with swing and fire with finesse, potently interspersed with the timeless eloquence of Gaelic song.” – Sue Wilson, Music Critic
Raised in Newfoundland, Canada and then Dublin, Ireland in a very musical family, Brian was always making music. His first memories of singing are with his three siblings and parents at house parties and small concerts for old folks in St John's, Newfoundland. He was always in school choirs and he taught himself guitar, tin-whistle and bodhran from a young age. Whilst in secondary school in Dublin, Brian took piano lessons and also learned the euphonium which he played in the Rathfarnham Concert Band. He also started playing bass and electric guitar in his early teens and played in various rock and blues bands in his locality. Classical guitar was his instrument of choice for his final school music exams.
Along with his brothers, Brian performed in a local musical youth theatre company and he also joined the Dublin Youth Theatre. He auditioned for the 1991 Alan Parker film The Commitments and very nearly was offered a leading role in the RTE soap Fair City. The acting life wasn't particularly enticing for Brian and he continued down the musical route.
Always drawn to singing, particularly folk songs, Brian started writing and recording his own songs in his teens and entered various song competitions for works he wrote in Irish Gaelic. Keen to stay engaged with the language, Brian started playing traditional music with friends involved with Àras Chrònàin in Clondalkin, Dublin, and would often travel to play informally at various trad sessions and festivals around the country.
On weekends and holidays from school, Brian worked in the keyboard and guitar departments of Ireland's largest music shop at the time; McCullough Piggot's in Dublin. There, he saw an advert by the Irish Actors Theatre company who were seeking a musician to go on tour with them to mainland Europe. He auditioned for the part and by the autumn after finishing secondary school in 1989, Brian was singing in front of large audiences in theatres, schools and cultural centres across Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and France. This experience provided Brian with stage skills and touring etiquette which set him up for a career in music and the arts.
Whilst studying for an honours BA degree in Irish Folklore and English Literature at University College Dublin, Brian was Auditor of the Irish Traditional Music Society and set up many sessions, ceili's, music classes and trips away for students of the university. He briefly joined the traditional band from Armagh - Upstairs in a Tent, lead by flute & whistle player Brian Finnigan whom he met at a session in Matt Malloy's pub in Westport, Mayo. The band toured in England, Ireland and France and the two Brian's went on to tour in Sweden and Norway together.
In 1992 Brian founded the band Anam with three other musicians studying various subjects at University College Dublin. They were Myles Farrell (bouzouki), Tom Doorley (flute & whistle), and Steven Kelly (fiddle & whistle). The young band's first concert was in front of 3000 people as support to The Chieftans at the Lorient International Celtic Festival in Brittany. Anam went on to tour, record and evolve over ten years with members including Steve Larkin (fiddle), John Connelly (button accordion), Seumas MacConanaidh (flute & whistle), Aimee Leonard (vocals & bodhran), Treasa Harkin (button accordion), Neil Davey (mandolin, bouzouki), Fionnag NicChoinnich (vocals & bodhran), Anna Wendy Stevenson (fiddle), Carol Anne Mackay (pipes & whistle), Gordon Gunn (fiddle), Nuala Kennedy (flute & whistle).
Anam became one of the most successful young Celtic bands of the 1990's and signed a multi-album contract with JVC Victor Records based in Tokyo, Japan. The band recorded five albums in total, two independently and three with JVC Victor. They toured the world over, playing festivals, theatres, clubs, and TV & radio in territories including North America, Scandinavia, mainland Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Taiwan.
The Highland based quartet Cruinn brings together four of Scotland's premier Gaelic singers - James Graham, Fionnag NicChoinnich, Brian Ó hEadhra and Rachel Walker. Each of these artists are highly regarded in their own right and together, as Cruinn, they perform traditional and contemporary Gaelic songs with beautiful harmonies and arrangements. Cruinn's first album entitled 'Cruinn' was released in January 2013 to strong critical acclaim. It was nominated for Album of the Year at the 2013 Scots Trad Music Awards. The band released their second album 'Stòras' in 2014. "...stunning Gaelic song supergroup with both sublimely complimentary vocals and spine-tingling contemporary reinventions of ancient material, together with beautifully crafted originals." The Scotsman
Skills | Education | Bòrd na Gàidhlig | Anam Communications | Educator | Consultant | Current Positions
Brian has worked in arts management and Gaelic language & cultural development for over thirty years and currently works three days a week as Partnership and Development Manager for Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Scotland's Gaelic language board. This work sees Brian advising and championing Gaelic speakers, artists and organisations at local, national and international levels.
He has also founded a number of other organisations of which he is still a leading member; Anam Communications (record & publishing company), Inverness Acoustic Music Club, and North Atlantic Song Convention (NASC). Always keen to support other arts & cultural initiatives, Brian is a voluntary board member of Findhorn Bay Arts (Morayshire arts body) and the Trad Music Forum (Scotland).
Influential leadership; Short to long-term Strategic thinking; Process improvement; Operational excellence; Staff management; Business development; Verbal and written communication; Customer-oriented; Motivation and teamwork; Web design and Social Media creation.
• BA Hons: English Literature, Irish Folklore. University College Dublin. 2.1. 1994
• Certificate of Higher Education: Gaelic Language. Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Skye. 2000
• Studied Broadcasting and Journalistic Skills. Senior College Ballyfermot (D.V.E.C.), Dublin. 1990
• Qualified Ulpan Gaelic Tutor
• Qualified TEFL Tutor (Teaching English as a Foreign Language)
Bòrd na Gàidhlig
Owned and run by Brian Ó hEadhra, Anam Communications publishes quality Celtic/Gaelic music and books that have garnered high praise from critics and the public alike over many years. For over thirty years, Brian has been involved in recording and producing music as a solo artist and with artists and groups such as Cruinn; Anam; McKerron Brechin Ó hEadhra; Christine Primrose & Brian Ó hEadhra; Brian Ó hEadhra | Fionnag NicChoinnich. Anam Communications has also digitally released the Learn Through Song collection of albums for children by Joyce and Aidan O'Hara.
Established during the Covid lockdown of 2020, Brian hosts the highly popular weekly online Scottish Gaelic song class "Seinn Air Loidhne" which is attended by song enthusiasts from across the globe. He also hosts other online classes such as Bruidhinn Air Loidhne - Online Gaelic Conversation Class, as well as 1-1 tuition in Gaelic, singing, guitar, bodhran, and song-writing.
Brian provides advice and support to individuals and bodies working in the arts and cultural sector in Scotland with a strong focus on sustainability, equalities, language and heritage.
• Findhorn Bay Arts - Board Director
• Traditional Music Forum (Scotland) - Board Member
• North Atlantic Song Convention (NASC) - Board Member
• Inverness Acoustic Music Club - Board Member
Dreuchdan a tha Seachad
Dreuchdan a tha Seachad
Scottish Arts Council / Creative Scotland | Festival & Event Management | Language Tuition & Simultainious Translation | CnaG | Taigh Dhonnchaidh | Past Positions | Early Work
Scottish Arts Council | Creative Scotland
In 2010, Brian was appointed as Scotland's first Gaelic Arts & Culture Officer. This strategic position was requested by Minister for Culture at the time - Michael Russell MSP. The role was shared between Bòrd na Gàidhlig and the Scottish Arts Council, which was soon re-established as Creative Scotland. Brian was pivotal in championing Gaelic arts and culture at local, national and international levels. He was key in advising and assessing various funding programmes and projects within Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Creative Scotland as well as external bodies including Visit Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, and Scottish Government - Cultural Division. In 2019 the position went directly to Bòrd na Gàidhlig.
Festival & Event Management
• Blas Festival - Brian was on the founding committee of the Highland-wide Blas Festival, celebrating Gaelic arts and culture. He was the Artistic Director of the festival between 2004 and 2010.
• Geiteberg Folk Festival - Brian co-founded this festival with friends Kjetil Haugbro and Guri Holt. This small festival celebrating Celtic and Nordic folk music was held on Kjetil and Guri's farm near Tomter, SE of Oslo, Norway between 2013 and 2018.
• Nòs Ùr - Brian founded and managed the Celtic & Scots languages song competition Nòs Ùr in Eden Court, Inverness in 2008 and 2009. Finalists of this competition went on to perform at the finals of the Liet International European minority languages song competition; of which Brian was on the international advisory board.
• Fèis nan Òran - Brian was the director of this small festival in 2001 (Ness, Isle of Lewis) and 2002 (Sleat, Isle of Skye). Fèis nan Òran celebrated and showcased Scottish Gaelic and Irish Gaelic traditional songs and singing.
Language Tuition and Simultaneous Translation Services
Brian set up and ran the Highland Language Institute between 2004 and 2009. He taught Scottish Gaelic and English language classes to private and public bodies (including Highlands & Islands Enterprise, National Trust for Scotland, and Educational Workers Association) in and around the Inverness region. He became an Ulpan Gaelic tutor and taught evening classes for the Highland Council in Inverness and Nairn. Brian also provided simultaneous translation services (Scottish Gaelic to English) to various bodies, including Highland Council, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, and MG ALBA.
Comunn Na Gàidhlig
In 2002 Brian joined Comunn na Gàidhlig in Inverness as a Youth Officer. He helped establish and run various youth groups (Sratagan) and events in the Highland region. Brian then became a Development Officer for CnaG and managed various strategic projects and funds.
In 2000 Brian took on the role as the first manager of Taigh Dhonnchaidh Gaelic Arts & Culture Centre in Ness, Isle of Lewis. He set up and raised funding for Fèis Taigh Dhonnchaidh and ran the festival Ceòl Nis. Brian co-ordinated many other events and projects at this time including concerts, a pop-up cafe, Gaelic language summer school and art classes.
• HI~Arts - Board Member
• Comann nam Pàrant (Inbhir Nis) – Chairman
• Fòram Gàidhlig Inbhir Nis (Inverness Gaelic Forum) – Founder & Chairman
• Traditional Music Society (University College Dublin) - Auditor (Chairman)
• Irish Actors Theatre Company - Musician/Singer (Touring mainland Europe). 1989-90.
• McCullough Piggott's and Perfect Pitch, Dublin - Music Store Sales Assistant. 1987-1993.