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Heather Dale: Celtic Singer/Songwriter

Updated on January 14, 2015

Meet My Favorite Indie Recording Artist

Heather Dale, alias Mistress Marian of Heatherdale to those in the Society for Creative Anachronism, is my all-time favorite singer and bard. She performs lyrical ballads drawing on medieval music and myth, particularly Arthurian and Celtic.

Some have compared her to Loreena McKinnett, but of course she has her own style, with an infectious joy in some of her songs that urges you to sing along.

She's an enchanting performer. Anyone who's ever seen Heather Dale in concert will not forget that smile.

Most of all, Heather is a kind and generous soul. She has encouraged, tutored and inspired independent musicians and amateur bards for many years.

This page is a heartfelt salute and thank you from a longtime fan. You've gotta hear this lady sing. (And you can, because she has a fair amount of free music tucked away on her website and YouTube channel.)

Heather Dale Being Herself (A Warm-Up)

"Mordred's Lullaby" By Heather Dale

What lullaby would Morgan le Fay sing? Here's Heather's haunting answer (fan-made video). It's a fan favorite.

Mistress Marian of Heatherdale, photo by Helena Lyristes
Mistress Marian of Heatherdale, photo by Helena Lyristes

About Heather Dale

Bard, Dreamer, Free Spirit

I first met Heather Dale about fifteen years ago, when she already stood out as an exceptional performer and bard in our international medieval reenactment organization, the Society for Creative Anachronism. The SCA bards from eastern Canada ("Ealdormere") are some of the best, and she was one of their leading lights.

Since then I've watched from afar as her magical voice and imagination have begun to captivate mainstream audiences as well. Her albums are on sale on Amazon and iTunes. She's toured in North America and Europe. My jaw dropped when I first ran across a YouTube video with a very familiar song ("Mordred's Lullaby") as its soundtrack, but I shouldn't have been surprised. (Please see Heather Dale's FAQ for her policy on fanvids; let's return her generosity by respecting her wishes.)

in addition to writing and performing her own songs, she's also a talented musician: those instruments you hear (bodhran, penny whistle, dulcimer, harp, and more) are played by Heather and her steadfast partner, Ben Deschamps.

Heather Dale is deeply committed to independent music. She maintains her own label, Amphisbaena Music, which has supported and published albums by several other singers, storytellers, bards and indie musicians.

She will always be Mistress Marian to me, that luminous smile shining in the torchlight, pulling us all into a rousing chorus of "Come and Be Welcome" and spreading so much joy as she encouraged us to sing and pursue our dreams. The picture above right doesn't do her justice, but it's one of the few times I brought a camera and stopped singing along just long enough to snap a photo (Pennsic 34, Aug '05).

Here's a better photo...

Heather Dale from Heatherdale.com

Heather Dale from Heatherdale.com
Heather Dale from Heatherdale.com

One of the popular activities in the Society for Creative Anachronism is donning armor, making medieval weapons out of padded wood, and trying to capture something of the feel of medieval warfare and swordfighting (with hopefully nothing worse than bruises).

I was only ever a waterbearer, but Marian sometimes put down her harp and picked up a sword. This is a song about a woman that inspired her.

"One of Us"  — The First Song I Ever Heard Her Sing

"Joan" by Heather Dale

One of the joys of the SCA is bringing back stories about medieval heroes and legends. Here's Marian's, ahem, Heather's original song about Joan of Arc.

The Pear Tree - A Slightly Naughty Song

This is ten times more entertaining with the sweet lady acting out all the parts with comic body language and smiling like a perfect angel; the combination is rather incongruous.

It's still fun even if you only have the recording, though.

Poll Time: Have You Heard of Heather Dale?

Had you heard of Heather Dale before reading this page?

See results

Heather Dale Ted Talk for Aspiring Artists

Heather Dale Christmas Album: "This Endris Night" - Lovely Music for the Season

Here is Heather's Christmas album.

Beautiful, traditional carols reach back to another era, one with Yule logs and Good King Wenceslaus and soaring hymns in European cathedrals. I think you'll be delighted by this collection. (My personal favorite: "Coventry Carol.")

Most of Heather's music is available on Amazon, but I think she gets a greater portion of the sale if you buy it from her own site. Support indie musicians! (On the other hand, she also has a fair number of free-to-download songs available.)

Or go to her YouTube channel. She's put up quite a lot of her songs there, such as...

The Holly and the Ivy

Ben Deschamps and Heather Dale - 2009 Pegasus Award for Best Performers

Ben Deschamps and Heather Dale Congratulations, you two!
Ben Deschamps and Heather Dale Congratulations, you two!

© 2010 Ellen Brundige

My Guestbook - Sing out!

Submit a Comment

  • CuAllaidh profile image

    Jeff Johnston 

    3 years ago from Alberta Canada

    Love her music... as a previous resident of Ealdormere and current resident of Avacal I am quite familiar with her works :D Great article!

  • sierradawn lm profile image

    sierradawn lm 

    5 years ago

    @anonymous: I am so honored & blessed in this moment of sitting here, listening to you sing "Mordred's Lullaby" while being able to reach out through the ethernet & tell you THANK YOU for this lullaby--- which reaches out to every level of existence!

  • sierradawn lm profile image

    sierradawn lm 

    5 years ago

    "Mordred's Lullaby" guided me to this Lens.

  • damoiselle profile image

    damoiselle 

    6 years ago

    LOVE her stuff.

  • FlynntheCat1 profile image

    FlynntheCat1 

    7 years ago

    @mythphile: I nearly did it myself, but I recognised in time that I was just avoiding my essay!

    Well, of the songs so far, my favourites from the 'Power' sampler are Mordred's Lullaby, Joan, Maiden & the Selkie, Hero & The Greyhound ^_^ Haven't had a chance to listen to the others yet. Of course, what I like when I'm travelling around tends to be livelier than what I'll listen to at home ^_^

    Argh. I had to download each folder 2-3 times before it stopped being corrupted...

  • mythphile profile imageAUTHOR

    Ellen Brundige 

    7 years ago from California

    @FlynntheCat1: That's a good idea. ALas, it would be one of those OCD jobs which is I bet why Ben hasn't done it: there really needs to be a spreadsheet showing which albums each song appears in!

    But one thing may help. If you click on each "Sampler" it lists the 10 songs in that sampler. I didn't do a side-by-side comparison, but it looks like the Samplers really are that, just a few representative songs plucked from all the albums, which they overlap. The samplers are not all of the songs present on all the albums. One might call the samplers "best of" collections, save that they each focus on one theme.

    I don't know if you like more instrumental, more vocal, more modern or more "SCA" (medieval folk) style. My favorite albums are The Road to Santiago with some lively clear -- and mischievous ! -- songs, Green Knight, which has a lively rendition of Hunting of the Wren and a number of medievalish ballads, and Trial of Lancelot which has Mordred's Lullabye and a whole mess of Arthurian stuff. These all tend to be the sort of songs you'd hear outdoors among singers and bards or minstrels at a Ren Faire with a few folks on penny whistles and dulcimers and bodhrans, rather than more ...how do I say it? modern productions with more sophisticated instruments and a bit of sound mixing.

  • FlynntheCat1 profile image

    FlynntheCat1 

    7 years ago

    Hey GreekGeek :D Something that would be really helpful is some sort of guide to the songs - I came back to buy more of the samplers but I'm lost as to whether those are ALL the songs or if I need to buy the albums instead.

  • profile image

    anonymous 

    7 years ago

    I'm so honoured that you put this together! Thanks *so* much... all the best... cheers, Heather. :)

  • DogToys LM profile image

    DogToys LM 

    7 years ago

    Beautiful lens!

  • SusannaDuffy profile image

    Susanna Duffy 

    7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

    I love Heather Dale and often wonder why she's not internationally recognised

  • profile image

    doubleside lm 

    7 years ago

    I've never heard about her. Thanks for introducing her.

  • aesta1 profile image

    Mary Norton 

    7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Thanks for featuring her. I love medieval music but I don't pursue it avidly. Heather sounds just my type.

  • mythphile profile imageAUTHOR

    Ellen Brundige 

    7 years ago from California

    @MagpieNest: Jousting? Where?!

    *runs to go look*

  • MagpieNest profile image

    MagpieNest 

    7 years ago

    Ooh thankyou, I think you might have found me a Christmas present. I have a thing for medieval music. Lensrolled to medieval jousting.

  • ajgodinho profile image

    Anthony Godinho 

    7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Beautifully designed lens on Heather Dale. I had not heard her music before, did check your YouTube video though. Blessings! :)

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