Heather Dale at Ohio Valley Filk Fest 2009
|Birth name||Heather Dale|
|Born||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|Genres||Celtic, folk, world, new-age|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, songwriter, producer, independent record label owner|
|Instruments||Voice, piano, bodhrán, tin & low whistles, recorders, mountain dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, harp, bowed psaltery, percussion|
|Labels||Amphisbaena (Amphis) Music|
Heather Dale is a Canadian Celtic music recording artist and touring musician. She records and performs primarily her own original songs, which draw their inspiration from the folklore, mythology and history of various Celtic and non-Celtic cultures, along with some elements of modern fantasy literature. Her musical style is a mix of traditional and modern, influenced by Celtic folk, folk rock, new-age, and world music. She has been compared to Loreena McKennitt, Sarah McLachlan, and Judy Collins.
Life and career
Born and based in Toronto, she began her career by performing at Society for Creative Anachronism historical re-creation events; she has been a medieval-era re-creator since 1993 and is known by the name 'Mistress Marian of Heatherdale' within the group. She was elevated to the Order of the Laurel, the Society's highest award for achievement in the arts, in 2001. Her CD Call The Names is a compilation album of her oldest songs (originally released on cassette between 1995 and 1998), all of which present an idealized view of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, within the SCA context. Heather released another historical album in November 2002: This Endris Night, with twelve reworkings of pre-1700 CE Christmas carols.
Building on her popularity in the SCA community, Heather soon started doing concerts at folk clubs and other live music venues in the Toronto area, traveling occasionally to perform for audiences further afield. She released two major albums in this time period:
- The Trial of Lancelot (released in January 2000; nine original songs inspired by Britain's King Arthur legends)
- May Queen (released in April 2003; ten original songs inspired by the King Arthur legends)
These albums demonstrated Heather's longtime interest in the epic King Arthur story, and garnered mention in the scholarly New Arthurian Encyclopedia. Particularly notable is Heather's ability to create empathy with the characters in her songs; listeners are shown vulnerable, first-person portrayals of such legendary figures are Sir Lancelot, Sir Tristan, Queen Guinevere, King Arthur, Merlin the Magician and Morgan Le Fay. Heather also released a 120-page story/songbook called The Legends of Arthur in November 2006; it has sheet music arrangements for all of her Arthurian songs. The book also includes Heather's re-telling of the whole King Arthur story, in the form of 27 traditionally-inspired stories that were originally released as part of Heather's fan newsletter.
In late 2004, Heather began a new phase of her career and shifted her focus toward a solid touring schedule (100+ shows per year). Along with fellow multi-instrumentalist Ben Deschamps, she regularly books and performs extensive tours across Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and continental Europe (Germany, Hungary and Spain). In addition to vocals, Heather and Ben play as many as a dozen instruments in their duo shows, including piano, double bass, guitar, bodhran drum, mountain dulcimer, alto recorder, violin, and an array of Irish flutes & tin whistles.
Dale is an outspoken advocate of independent musicians within the Canadian music industry, and has never signed with a major record label. She undertakes all her touring and recording work through the indie record label she founded in 1998: Amphisbaena Music (often shortened to Amphis Music). Many of her fans discover her music through online radio and download sites like iTunes; her song Mordred's Lullaby has achieved popularity with anime fans on YouTube, and her version of the song This Endris Night has been featured on the several hundred Medieval-memed YTMND sites. In addition to her fans in folk & Celtic music circles worldwide, she has a strong fan following in the historical re-enactment and science fiction/fantasy fan communities. Her recording The Hidden Path was nominated for a 2007 Prix Aurora Award. She and Ben Deschamps won the 2009 Pegasus Award for Best Performer(s). In 2005 Heather received a double Pegasus nomination for her songwriting, and she won the 2010 Pegasus for Best Writer/Composer.
- Light of the North (1996; cassette only — out of print; Songs celebrating an idealized Medieval culture)
- White Rose (1997; cassette only — out of print; Songs celebrating an idealized Medieval culture)
- The Kingsword (1997; cassette only — out of print; The first recording of some of Dale's King Arthur songs)
- Bow To The Crown (1998; cassette only — out of print; Songs celebrating an idealized Medieval culture)
- Dances by the Marian Ensemble (1998; Instrumental versions of Medieval dance music, re-released on CD in 2003)
- The Trial of Lancelot (2000; Dale's first studio album, featuring 9 of her King Arthur songs)
- Call The Names (2001; A compilation of 20 of Dale's songs, originally appearing on her cassette tapes)
- The Call The Names Book (songbook) (2001)
- This Endris Night (2002; Dale's arrangements of early Christmas carols; she plays all the instruments herself)
- May Queen (2003; A follow-up to Dale's The Trial of Lancelot CD, with ten more of her original King Arthur songs)
- The Road to Santiago (released in April 2005; Ten original songs and two cover songs, all inspired by legends & folktales)
- The Hidden Path: Live & Rarities (released in November 2006; Fourteen tracks of live recordings, alternate recordings and traditional songs)
- The Legends of Arthur (story/songbook; 120-page re-telling of the King Arthur legend, with sheet music for Dale's Arthurian songs) (2006)
- The Gabriel Hounds (released in May 2008; Fourteen original songs, all inspired by legends & folktales)
- Heather Dale: Live in Köln (2008; Live CD of a German concert)
- Heather Dale: Live in Montreal (2008; Live CD of a Canadian concert)
- The Green Knight (released in July 2009; Fourteen original songs inspired by the idealized Middle Ages and the Renaissance)
- Avalon (released in December 2010; New versions of Dale's Arthurian Legend songs, all on one CD)
- Heather Dale: Live in Connecticut (released in October 2011; Live CD of an American concert)
- Fairytale (released in December 2011; Music about growing up, dealing with the real world, and still keeping a healthy dose of fantasy in your life)
- Perpetual Gift (released in September 2012; A free CD experiment released by Dale, with 14 original songs performed live with her full band, plus an intro/outro explaining that fans are encouraged to copy & share the songs widely.)
- My Celtic Heart (released in October 2013; Celtic traditional songs)
- Imagineer (released in November 2015; 2 cover songs and 2 medieval-themed songs, in addition to several original space exploration and imagination themed songs for children)
- Robert J. Wiersema - Vancouver Sun, Jun6/2004 Archived March 10, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- Catholine Butler - Celtic Connection magazine, June 2003, Issue 117 (Link is site homepage; no archives found.)
- SCA - Ealdormere Order of Precedence
- "The Kingdom of Ealdormere". Marian of Heatherdale - O.L. [=Order of the Laurel]. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
Date of Elevation: Pennsic Great Court (Aug 16, 2001) Art or Science: Research into the King Arthur Legends. Other specialties: Bardic Arts.
- Norris J. Lacy, The New Arthurian Encyclopedia
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