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Connie Dover - Great Composer and Singer of Traditional Celtic and American Folk

Alun's musical interests are many and varied, with the emphasis on traditional folk, world music, and melodies which stand the test of time

Introduction

This page is written to promote the talents of Connie Dover, one of the world's very finest performers of traditional songs, and the composer of some of the most beautiful music of recent decades. Born in the state of Arkansas and raised in the state of Missouri, Connie brings a sweetly sentimental voice of great clarity to her renditions of the choicest Celtic music from Scotland and Ireland's past, as well as the songs from America's own pioneering days. She also writes music of the very rarest quality - refreshing, enchanting and ethereal. But she is an artist who will not often be heard on radio stations, as this kind of music is not today deemed 'commercial'. Yet hers is a talent which I believe far outstrips that of many celebrated performers. Connie Dover is a musician who deserves to reach a wide audience.

On this page I include a brief biography of Ms Dover, and information on each of her five CDs to date. For each CD, I will also include a video featuring one track, to illustrate the kind of music she performs and writes. My selections are all among my favourite pieces, though the choice has been governed in part by the desire to choose tracks with different themes, including some of Connie's own compositions.

N.B: Please note, all my articles are best read on desktops and laptops

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A Brief Biography

True to the diverse origins of her music, Connie Dover can trace her ancestral roots to England, Scotland and Ireland, as well as to Mexico and to the native Cherokee people of America. Developing an interest in traditional music at an early age, she soon began to collect - and then perform - the ancient ballads of the Celtic nations and the New World.

As a professional musician, Connie sang lead vocals with a Kansas based Celtic band called Scartaglen between 1982 and 1994, the year when the group finally disbanded. By this time, however, Connie had already established an independent solo career and founded the Taylor Park Music Company in Missouri to publish her work. Under the Taylor Park label, five CDs of her music have been released.

Although Connie Dover still releases her music under the Taylor Park label, she has also contributed songs to folk and world music compilations on such labels as Sony, Virgin, EMI and Narada. And she has performed at folk festivals, and on television programmes and film soundtracks, garnering music and poetry awards and commendations along the way. One crowning achievement was the day in 2007 she won an Emmy for her work on a television documentary 'Bad Blood: The Border War that Triggered the Civil War'.

Away from the recording studio, Connie has enjoyed the great outdoors and the simple pleasures so often exemplified by her songs. One such activity described on her official website has been the many times she's worked as a ranch cook in the wilderness of Wyoming, camping out with the ranch hands and singing songs round the fire - just as the subjects of so many of her American folk songs may have done one hundred and more years ago.

Photograph by Gehrig Fry

Photograph by Gehrig Fry

Quotations

The Scotsman Newspaper: 'Just occasionally, a voice arrives on the folk scene that is so pure, so beautiful, so magical, that it tells you:this is how to sing a song. Such a voice has Connie Dover.'

The Boston Globe: The finest folk ballad singer America has produced since Joan Baez.'

Kansas City Magazine: 'Heavenly songs bridge the Celtic tradition and the American West. Connie Dover's shimmering soprano is as pure and clear as the Western sky.'

Jon Chnadler, Old West Journal: 'Connie Dover possesses that most rare of instruments, a voice so evocative, so perfect . . . Hers is a universal voice, following the thread of history, so steeped in tradition it conjures images of Scotland, of Ireland, of Appalachia, of the Old American West . . . a consummate singer.'

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The Five Taylor Park CDs

The first four solo CDs Connie Dover recorded on the Taylor Park label reflect her love of traditional music from the folk history of Britain and Ireland, and her interest in how this music then influenced new world folk from the days of the pioneers and the migration of the settlers westward across America. As such all of these solo CDs feature a selection of great ballads which span the centuries from England, Scotland and Ireland, as well as songs from America's past, and a liberal sprinkling of Connie's own enchanting compositions.

'Solo CDs' may, of course, not be the ideal phrase, because on any album much creative and technical work goes on in the background and behind the scenes, and on each of these CDs, Connie shares the stage with a number of accomplished musicians on a range of instruments both ancient and modern, including harps and dulcimers, fiddles and uilleann (Irish) pipes. One musician in particular should be mentioned, and that is Scottish folk artist Phil Cunningham, who not only plays a variety of instruments including accordion, keyboard and guitar, but also produced the first four albums.

The fifth CD was recorded in Missouri with the musicians of the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra under the direction of conductor Bruce Sorrell, and features not Celtic and American folk, but Christmas music. Nine carols and sacred songs are performed, some of which are well known and some of which are less familiar. In many respects, this is not so very different from the previous albums - carols owe at least as much to the folk tradition as they do to classical and religious influences, and instruments such as the hurdy gurdy, tin whistle and bagpipes combine on this album with the more typical sounds of the modern orchestra.

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The Five Songs and Videos

To introduce Connie Dover's music, I have created five video slideshows. In these videos, I have selected one track from each of Connie's first five albums.

I hope the videos provide an enjoyable experience - this is the first time I have ever put together a 'musical slide show' of this kind, so I hope and trust that the videos play well. I have been limited by the availability of public domain images to include, but in time I hope to be able to refine and improve them.

All music is better when played with a good sound system, but music with a clarity such as this, especially so. Certainly I would say these pieces of music are much better when played on a good system with decent speakers, than when played on a computer with built-in speakers. But I hope that the videos reveal sufficient of the quality of Connie Dover's music, to encourage visitors to this page to explore further and discover more of her work.

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