“She was nothing short of mesmerizing.”
Such praise - from an American tour stop with The Chieftains - is a common reaction to Alyth McCormack. Audiences on four continents have thrilled to what a reviewer in Glasgow called “a voice of great beauty and purity”, a voice that can make the playful and the heart-wrenching come alive with equal skill and grace.
Though she has earned acclaim for the matchless way she delivers the Scottish Gaelic songs on which she was raised, she is also known for her incredible diversity. Celebrated for her work with The Chieftains (she has been their featured singer for the last 13 years) Alyth has shared the stage with folk greats like Martin Carthy & Norma Waterson, jazz musicians like Edward Simon, rock great Ry Cooder and country icon Trace Adkins. She also dueted with the legendary Kris Kristofferson and others ranging from Brazilian ensembles to Bulgarian voice choirs. She has toured extensively with her own band too.
“No matter what the format”, said New York’s TimeOut, “her voice is spine-tingling.”
McCormack has appeared in many of the world’s most storied halls, from the Kennedy Center and the Chicago Symphony Center to the National Concert Halls of Dublin and Glasgow.
She is also well known for her dramatic abilities. Most notably, in the award winning Arthur, the story of a King, female lead in the musical On Eagle’s Wing directed by Tony Award winning director Ian McIllhenny, and the opera production St Kilda, Isle of Birdmen which opened the Edinburgh International Festival in 2007.
Most recently, she has participated as a vocalist for the Global Art Project for Peace composed and arranged by Mehran Alirezaei.
Decades into her career, McCormack continues to seek new means of expression.
“Being a singer, I have always wanted to write my own songs,” she says, “but I didn’t have the confidence. I had lots of song ideas but didn’t know how to begin. I remember reading that Gaelic poet and songwriter Màiri Mhòr nan Òran didn’t start writing songs till she was in her 50’s and I used to say, ‘There’s hope for me yet!’ A few years ago in Nashville, I met writer Rob Simbeck, and he believed in me. Here I am at 51, ready to tell my own story.”
Those songs will find a home with one of the beloved voices of her generation, and she will find great pleasure in singing them. The bottom line is reflected in what she calls “my favourite line from any review”...
“Alyth McCormack loves singing, and lets you know that without telling you. You can hear it in her voice.” The List.