The Gaelic language is being introduced to a huge new audience thanks to the inclusion of Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis on the soundtrack of new animated film ‘Brave’, set in the Scottish Highlands.
The film’s soundtrack features two songs sung by Julie – both are in English, but the film - already a box office hit across the US - is being heavily promoted in the US using another, Gaelic track - Tha mo ghaol air àird a' chuain.
“It’s an incredible platform for the language” states Julie. “The TV trailer for the film was broadcast at the Oscars to a global viewing audience of over 40 million people.”
Julie is well known to be a campaigner for the language, speaking it at home with her husband and two young daughters.
She has entered into a creative partnership with another Gaelic speaker, Inverness -based couturier Sandra Murray, which will they hope help to keep the soundtrack, and the romance of the Gaelic language, front of mind with its new audience. Sandra has created a striking capsule wardrobe inspired by the landscape of the Highland and Islands for Julie to wear to the film’s global premieres – in Los Angeles last week, Edinburgh (30 June) and Inverness (1 July).
Julie stated “Like the many Gaelic singers who travel abroad to work and perform, I am aware of the ambassadorial role that comes with representing the Gaelic language on foreign soil. Our involvement in 'Brave' was substantial, and we were thrilled to be invited to work on such a huge project - six years in the making - which was inspired and informed by Scottish, and in particular, Highland culture. I wanted to ensure that my appearance at the premieres lived up to and followed that inspiration! Sandra’s creations are extraordinarily beautiful and have enough dramatic presence to hold their own on the red carpet. Creatively we gelled straight away, and that really helped.”
Sandra spoke eloquently in a recent BBC Alba interview about her Gaelic speaking island heritage and the creative inspiration which sprang from it. She stated of their collaboration -“I’ve loved working with Julie on this collection. I think it captures the spirit of the Highland landscape - a Gaelic spirit, perhaps. I hope that it will help to demonstrate the wealth of creativity and talent we have here in Scotland, and among the Gaelic-speaking community.”
Now the collection will be recorded in a special photoshoot with world class fashion photographer John Swannell at Loch Ness in July, to further highlight their work. In addition Sandra and Julie plan to offer masterclasses in the coming months for people interested in fashion design, and perhaps to hear Julie’s experiences in working on the film.
The project has been supported by Commun na Gaidhlig (CnaG), as part of their Gaelic services contract with Highlands and Islands Enterprise. CnaG chief executive Donald MacNeill stated: “We understood at once how important this cooperation between Julie and Sandra could be for the profile of Gaelic, and we were happy to do what we could to support it. Quite apart from anything else, it’s obvious that films like ‘Brave’ are tremendously attractive to young people, and I’m sure many young Gaelic speakers will be proud to hear their language linked to the film. Sandra and Julie are also going to consider focusing one of their Gaelic masterclasses on young people who could be interested in these creative industries.”