Julie Fowlis is a multi-award-winning Gaelic singer who is deeply influenced by her early upbringing in the Outer Hebridean island of North Uist. With a career spanning five studio albums and numerous high-profile collaborations, her crystalline vocals have enchanted audiences around the world.

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Julie is one of the musicians featured in Sruth, a new four-part TG4 Series featuring some of the finest young traditional musicians from Ireland and Scotland who get the chance to play with some of traditional music’s more established figures, including Julie herself - watch Sruth here, via RTÉ Player.

We asked Julie for her choice cultural picks...

FILM

This is a film I am excited to watch this month. It's the first cinema documentary entirely in Scottish Gaelic, called Iorram (Boat Song) and is described as a lyrical portrait of the fishing community in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, past and present - the film is set to an original score by my friend and acclaimed folk musician Aidan O’Rourke (Lau).  Director Alastair Cole blends modern footage with sounds and stories from the archives to tell the story of islanders and their powerful relationship with the sea. 

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I also want to mention the incredible film Eastbound, premiered last month at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival, which documents Inverness lass Jenny Graham on her world record attempt to become the fastest woman to circumnavigate the globe, solo and unsupported, on a bicycle - over 18,000 miles.  It’s an amazing watch, and I was delighted that our music was used as the soundtrack.

MUSIC

I love the quartet Hawktail - they are an instrumental acoustic ensemble based in the US. Their music is both beautifully thought out and crafted but is also stunning in its spontaneity.  In The Kitchen and Unless are much played tracks in this house at the moment.  

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BOOK

I recently finished the audiobook Airhead by Emily Maitlis, which documents the reality of working on, and delivering, live news and interviews.  The fact that it is narrated by Emily herself makes it a really personal insight into the life of a leading journalist, with glimpses into how she juggles her work and family life.  I am so busy day to day, I love being able to listen to books whilst I am busy doing something else, like driving or cooking.  It’s such a brilliant way to escape and unwind. I am currently enjoying reading The Outrun by Amy Liptrot, and have the following books patiently waiting on my bedside table for me to read, which I got for Christmas: A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Wintering: A Season with Geese by Stephen Rutt, Surfacing by Kathleen Jamie and Underland by my friend and inspirational writer Robert Macfarlane

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Play:

I don’t actually watch much TV but I did love the series The Queen's Gambit on Netflix.  It was totally gripping, and Anya Taylor-Joy was an incredible lead.

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GIG

The last time I went to the theatre it was to see the world-renowned ballet dancer Carlos Acosta at Eden Court in Inverness in March 2020, to watch his show with Cuban company Acosta Danza.  It was a powerful and emotive show, and it was a treat to spend a little time chatting with him afterwards with our mutual friend and artist Julie Brook.

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ART

This brings me neatly along to shining the spotlight onto the work of Julie Brook, who is based in Skye.  She is a true force of nature and someone whose work is deeply connected with landscape.  She makes large-scale sculptural work outside using different materials using photography and film as part of the process of working.

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RADIO/PODCAST

I listen to the David McWilliams podcast every week, I find his podcasts hugely engaging and love the craic between himself and John Davis.  I also really enjoy the In The Studio series, by the BBC World Service, which features artists from different disciplines each week.  

TECH

One of my favourite apps which I use when out either on my bike or hiking/walking is called Peak Finder.  It identifies all the hills on the horizon and names them for you on a visual elevation model.  I am a total geek when it comes to place names, and this is a handy wee app. 

THE NEXT BIG THING...

One young band who I recently watched for the first time, and really enjoyed, are Westward the Light. They played a gorgeous set online for the Celtic Connections Festival.

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I'd also like to draw attention to one of the most beautiful young Gaelic voices today, Annia MacGillivray. She has the kind of voice which stops you in your tracks and which stays in your heart and mind long after. 

Watch Sruth on TG4 on Sundays at 9.30 pm - catch up here, via RTÉ Player.