The Celtic Connections festival is presenting two events with the Bogha-Frois: LGBT+ Voices in Folk project. The first is a conversation event in which some of the participants in the project give an insight into what Bogha-Frois is. There is also an evening concert on the final day of Celtic Connections which gives audiences the opportunity to hear the results of the workshops and sessions that have taken place.

“Bogha-frois” is the Gaelic word for “rainbow” and gives its name to a collaborative project in which a variety of LGBT+ folk musicians, songwriters and poets got together to make new music and speak about their experiences. Pedro Cameron (fiddler with The Dirty Beggars and now soloist under the name Man of the Minch) felt that he was an isolated figure in the folk scene. He reached out to find other LGBT+ people in the folk music community and was amazed at the response. Initially devising the idea as a band, the project evolved to be a workshop at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh (with mentors Rachel Sermanni, Josie Duncan, Laura Wilkie, Grant MacFarlane and Marit Fält) and now a concert at Celtic Connections.

The concert itself is a bold celebration of the music that was devised at the workshop with a diverse range of musicians and multi-instrumentalists taking to the stage to perform. The event has a collective and community-like feel with the collaborative nature of the project being evident on the stage. The songs also look to tackle the shame that LGBT people are sometimes made to feel and the topic of unwelcoming spaces is brought up during a short film that is screened at the concert. This film documents the workshops and gives an insight into the creative process. Bogha-Frois subverts clichés around folk music and also gives empowerment to voices that are constantly overlooked. These two factors are evident in the music that is performed tonight.

Trad and folk feature heavily this evening. However one of the highlights of the event is Michigan-born dancer Nic Gareiss. After a brief introduction, he pours a handful of sand on the stage and performs a solo dance. He uses his feet a percussion instrument and through his voice and movement questions the traditional dance format of pairing male and female dancers together.

The concert draws to a close with a musical interpretation of a poem by Ana Hine. It is a defiant piece about protest and human rights. This song leads the way to a triumphant closer led by songwriter and pianist Finn Anderson. It features the phrase “Is this what it feels like to be free?” and is the perfect way to conclude a special night.