PIPER Jimi McRae, originally from Galashiels, is soon to start recording tracks for a new album in his home town, writes Mark Entwistle.
Jimi, who has garnered awards and rave reviews for his music, is due at the town’s Sound Station studio, where his last album, Global Gathering, was recorded.
Jimi recently composed a piece of music, inspired by the Borders, to be released later this year.
The former Galashiels Academy pupil, who has been piping since he was 10, is coming to the end of a tour round Scotland’s Highlands and islands, including Inverness, Skye and the Outer Hebrides.
A particular highlight was a gig in the Clan MacRae ancestral lands of Kintail, where good weather let Jimi fulfill an old ambition to climb the mountains Sgurr na Sgein, the Saddle and Foachaig.
Jimi has posted a video of his trip on his new website (www.jimithepiper.co.uk) and he told TheSouthern: “It was filmed with a hand-held Cannon during a visit to Kintail to pipe at a commemoration service for a much loved McRae who had recently passed away. Clan McRae was based in this part of the Highlands in ancient times.
“I was also piping at Eilean Donan Castle for German TV.”
Jimi came to prominence as a piper, when, after losing his job in the financial recession of the early 1990s, he decided to try his hand at busking.
He released his debut album Pipedreams, featuring a mix of original compositions and traditional tunes, and a range of pipes including Highland, lowland and electronic, in 1999. Earthdance followed in 2001, and was accompanied by tours of the west coast of America, Germany, France and Scotland.
Over the next few years, Jimi and his band became a popular feature on the UK music festival circuit and headlined the ceilidth tent at Scotland’s biggest music festival T-in-the-Park for three years in a row.
In early 2005 the band performed at a week-long festival celebrating the Chinese new year in Beijing. This was soon followed by the release of the album Kick Out the Ghosts.
The band split up in 2006, but Jimi immediately started work on an album documenting the rich piping tradition of Clan MacRae.
It came about after clan society members in Scotland and the US approached Jimi with the idea of a CD, after his hugely popular appearances at the Clan MacRae international gatherings in 2000 and 2005. The CD, Global Gathering – Ceol Cloinn Mhic Rath (music of the Clan MacRae), was released in 2009.
Around this time, Jimi resumed a musical partnership with old friend, Nigerian born percussionist Sam Okoo, and the duo soon released an album, Scottish Pipes & African Drums.
In early 2010, Jimi and Sam were in Beijing to perform at Chinese New Year celebrations. Trips to Holland, Greece and Sweden followed and last year the pair were invited to perform three times at official functions hosted by the Scottish Parliament.