Shelagh McDonald

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As much myth as musician, singer/songwriter Shelagh McDonald seemed poised to emerge as a major voice in British folk music when she abruptly vanished mere months after the release of her breakthrough…
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As much myth as musician, singer/songwriter Shelagh McDonald seemed poised to emerge as a major voice in British folk music when she abruptly vanished mere months after the release of her breakthrough LP. Born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland, McDonald arrived in London sometime in the late '60s. While performing at the Troubadour, she befriended fellow singer/songwriter Keith Christmas, who would prove instrumental in landing her a record deal with the B&C label. Album followed in 1970 to decent reviews but mediocre sales, but 1971's Stargazer was a far different story. With McDonald dubbed "the new Sandy Denny" by the U.K. music press, the record was a critical smash and sold respectably.

But after recording a handful of tracks for a proposed third LP, McDonald suddenly disappeared, leaving no clues to her rationale or her whereabouts. While many friends and fans speculated she returned to Scotland, unhappy with her life and career in London, others believed she fled to either the U.S. or Canada in an attempt to recover from a failed relationship or to cure a drug problem. In truth, it was a life-altering LSD trip that sent her into seclusion and also ruined her voice. After a time spent putting her life back together, she married a Scottish bookstore owner and drifted away from society again, only this time happily.

With the CD re-release of Album and Stargazer, her music was embraced by a new generation of fans, and in 2005 Castle/Sanctuary released Let No Man Steal Your Thyme, a compilation of McDonald's complete recorded output, including outtakes and demos. 2005 also was the year McDonald finally resurfaced. After reading a story about herself in The Scottish Daily Mail, she submitted to an interview that cleared up much of the mystery behind her disappearance.