Release date of Caithness violinist Karen Steven’s tune – Angel Boy – written in memory of two-year-old great-nephew Iain Mackay
The new Angel Boy composition written by Caithness musician Karen Steven in memory of her great-nephew is set to be available for download from this Sunday.
Two-year-old Iain Mackay died following a car crash on the A99 in Occumster in August last year. The talented violinist was devastated when she heard the tragic news of her great-nephew, who died at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow three days after the two-car crash.
After donating 20% of the proceeds from her previous CD – The Stroma Swelkie – to Glasgow Children’s Hospital (GCHC) charity, she decided to write a song to raise money for the same charity .
Karen, who is from Caithness and works in the oil and gas services industry in Aberdeen, explained: “I really wanted it to be an inclusive project and get support from professional and amateur musicians. I reached out to friends and former students as well as some musicians less known to me, but whose playing I admire.
“It was important for me to give an opportunity to players who might not normally have the courage to embark on this kind of project themselves.
“It was a really great experience and now my composition, Angel Boy, is ready to be released on online platforms to raise awareness and funds for GCHC.”
Her great-nephew died just 16 days before her third birthday. “Iain was a very precious great-nephew to me and so Iain’s thoughts are also at the heart of this composition,” Karen said.
The split-screen audio and video recording was produced with a total of 38 musicians and dancers from Scotland, Canada, Sweden and the United States. Of the 30 Scottish musicians, 15 come from Caithness.
Karen first played local musician Addie Harper’s tune in December 2021, then she turned to her good friend, musician and sound engineer, Alastair MacDonald, who is originally from Wick but now lives in Ontario, Australia. Canada. He agreed to handle mixing and arranging the audio for the melody.
“At the end of the day, I think there were about 60 different tracks on our recording alone,” she pointed out. “Some musicians play more than one instrument on the recording, while others play melody as well as harmony.”
Once the sound was mixed, fiddler Gordon Gunn, also from Wick, took the time to master the recording before the project was handed over to Addie for video editing.
Karen said: “I can’t thank Addie, Alastair and Gordon enough for their invaluable expertise, drive and friendship in bringing it all together, for a charity that has a very special place in my heart now and in memory of the very precious to our family, little Iain Mackay.
“I would also like to thank all of the amazing musicians and dancers who took the time and cared to teach Angel Boy and support the project. It was clear to see so many people were touched by the story.
“It really doesn’t take much to think about how any of us might feel under these circumstances. I was touched to see the passion and compassion in the band’s play, which you will see for yourself -even when you watch the video.”
Other local musicians involved in the recording are: Andrea Cormack, violin, John O’Groats; Alexa Paterson, banjo, Bower; Caitlin Forbes, violin, Latheron; Darren Coghill (Neon Waltz), drums, John O’Groats; Donald McNeill, electric bass, Thurso; Emily Morrison, violin, wick; Grant Lyall, snare, wick; Lexie Swanson, violin, Bower and Richard Smith, ukulele, Wick.
Karen is also indebted to Robert Cameron, Manson Grant and Brandon McPhee for conducting an interview which, along with the Angel Boy video, will be featured on the Brandon McPhee Hour show which airs live Thursday, March 31.
In addition to the video available for download on Bandcamp – https://karensteven.bandcamp.com/ – from Sunday March 27, the fundraising campaign will also be launched. The video will be posted simultaneously on a variety of social media platforms with a link to a JustGiving page.
A digital download of the track is being sold for £1 with a donation option – all proceeds go to GCHC.
Everyone involved in the project offered their services free of charge.