Jenna Cumming

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This Gaelic traditional singer, born 1984 in Inverness, Scotland, was lauded for her wonderfully pure, sweet vocals. The daughter of Chrissie MacVicar, herself a celebrated Gaelic singer, Jenna Cumming…
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This Gaelic traditional singer, born 1984 in Inverness, Scotland, was lauded for her wonderfully pure, sweet vocals. The daughter of Chrissie MacVicar, herself a celebrated Gaelic singer, Jenna Cumming was a star on the traditional music scene long before she ever began her recording career. Encouraged in her singing by her mother from a very early age, while still a teenager she won no fewer than three gold medals for it at the Royal National Mòd, Scotland's foremost festival of Gaelic music and culture. After leaving school, she signed with the respected Gaelic folk label Macmeanmna -- home to, among others, Julie Fowlis' group Dòchas -- and in 2005 released her debut album, Kintulavig, named for the tiny village on the Isle of Harris where her mother was born. Although featuring two originals co-written by her mother, it comprised primarily traditional songs, most recorded with minimal accompaniment, the rest a cappella, as Cumming was used to performing them on the competition stage. It immediately received widespread critical acclaim for its tasteful arrangements and for the clarity of her voice, and just a year later, she was named Up-And-Coming Artist of the Year at the Scots Traditional Music Awards.

Cumming had originally gotten involved in music only as a hobby, and had by this time enrolled to train as a Gaelic teacher, but after the award, and the rapturous response to her album, she decided to pursue music more seriously and switched to a degree in Scottish Studies at Glasgow University. She graduated in 2007 and took a job at Fèisean nan Gàidheal, an organization supporting the development of community-based Gaelic arts tuition festivals throughout Scotland. An intensely private individual who almost never gave interviews, she devoted herself to her day job, but despite staying out of the recording studio, she continued to be involved in music, performing for several years running at the Celtic Connections festival and appearing on a number of television music programs.