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Music / Heather Dale

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A Canadian recording artist and touring musician, Heather Dale writes songs for "modern dreamers": witty, fun-loving, imaginative people who aren’t afraid to be different. Heather’s original songs tap into legends, mythology, history and fantasy.

Heather Dale is a full-time touring musician, whose original songs explore legends, mythology, history and fantasy, fusing the Celtic folk tradition with a healthy mix of world music and rock influences. Her most famous songs are based on Arthurian Legend, with Mordred's Lullaby in particular becoming very famous. In 2015 a musical based on these works, Queens of Avalon, was funded and created via Indiegogo.

Heather's website can be found here.

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  • Light of the North (1996; cassette only — out of print; songs celebrating an idealized Medieval culture)
  • White Rose (1997; cassette only — out of print; songs celebrating an idealized Medieval culture)
  • The Kingsword (1997; cassette only — out of print; the first recording of some of Dale's King Arthur songs)
  • Bow To The Crown (1998; cassette only — out of print; songs celebrating an idealized Medieval culture)
  • Dances by the Marian Ensemble (1998; instrumental versions of Medieval dance music, re-released on CD in 2003)
  • The Trial of Lancelot (2000; Dale's first studio album, featuring 9 of her King Arthur songs)
  • Call The Names (2001; a compilation of 20 of Dale's songs, originally appearing on her cassette tapes)
  • The Call The Names Book (songbook) (2001)
  • This Endris Night (2002; Dale's arrangements of early Christmas carols; she plays all the instruments herself)
  • May Queen (2003; a follow-up to Dale's "The Trial of Lancelot" CD, with ten more of her original King Arthur songs)
  • The Road to Santiago (released in April 2005; ten original songs and two cover songs, all inspired by legends & folktales)
  • The Hidden Path: Live & Rarities (released in November 2006; fourteen tracks of live recordings, alternate recordings and traditional songs)
  • The Legends of Arthur (story/songbook; 120-page re-telling of the King Arthur legend, with sheet music for Dale's Arthurian songs) (2006)
  • The Gabriel Hounds (released in May 2008; fourteen original songs, all inspired by legends & folktales)
  • Heather Dale: Live in Köln (2008; live CD of a German concert)
  • Heather Dale: Live in Montreal (2008; live CD of a Canadian concert)
  • The Green Knight (released in July 2009; fourteen original songs inspired by the idealized Middle Ages and the Renaissance)
  • Avalon (released in December 2010; new versions of Dale's Arthurian Legend songs, 18 on one CD)
  • Heather Dale: Live in Connecticut (released in October 2011; live CD of an American concert)
  • Fairytale (released in December 2011; music about growing up, dealing with the real world, and still keeping a healthy dose of fantasy in your life)
  • Perpetual Gift (released in September 2012; a free CD experiment released by Dale, with 14 original songs performed live with her full band, plus an intro/outro explaining that fans are encouraged to copy & share the songs widely.)
  • My Celtic Heart (released in November 2013; sixteen of her favorite traditional Celtic ballads from her childhood.)
  • Imagineer (released in August 2014)
  • Spark (released November 2016; another Christmas Album.)
  • Heather Dale: Live in Dallas (released in September 2018)
  • Sphere (released in October 2019)

Heather Dale's music contains examples of

  • Creation Story: "Sedna" is the Inuit story of the creation of sea life, rendered in song.
  • Dark Action Girl: Joan, from the song of the same name, is this and The Fundamentalist. "I kill without consequence, Heed no man's law/I sift out the righteous like grain from the straw."
  • Dead Person Conversation: "Lily Maid" is Elaine of Astolat talking about her love for Lancelot from beyond the grave.
  • Defiant to the End:
    • The unnamed narrator of "Hero" (Word of God is that it's about Robin Hood after being captured by the Sheriff of Nottingham), who declares "Though I'd prefer a happy end, no man can cheat the grave."
    • Captain Bryce from "The Greyhound" tells his men to "curse the reaper, bend your back and cheat your sorry grave" as the titular ship is going under the waves.
  • Daddy's Girl: The daughter of the Duke in "The Old Duke" is his only child and heir, and he is clearly very fond of her, valuing her as much as a son in a society that thinks he is a fool for it.
  • Dem Bones: Double Subverted in "Skeleton Woman". The narrator is chased by a skeleton he fished out of the ice, who was previously established as having desires. By morning, it turns out that the skeleton was just bones tangled in his fishing rod. He then cries in pity for the skeleton, and his tears animate it.
  • Exact Words:
    • You have to be extremely careful when making requests of the fairies, as the human mother in "Changeling Child" discovers — she bargained for a child and got precisely that. She never specified that she wanted a child who would grow up.
    • A Lighter and Softer variant is in "Black Fox", where the fox hunters declares that if the devil arrived, they'd run after him. They get their wishes, and flee back to town unhurt but terrified.
  • Face Death with Dignity: "Into Town" is about an old farmer who, feeling death approaching, asks his son to take him into town so he won't upset his grandchildren.
    I've lived a life without a lot of fuss
    I see no need to change it now
  • The Fair Folk:
  • Fantastic Aesop: The message of "Changeling Child" and "Fair Folk" — don't make deals with The Fair Folk.
  • Feghoot: "Pierre and Marianne" in a nutshell. Pierre goes of to Paris to marry Marianne, gives a cloak to a beggar in exchange for a magic acorn which he tucks into his underwear, is given an ass in exchange for a his tired horse and meets another beggar who mistakes him for the king because of how he rides. Pierre's final words are "My dear, I bring you my good ass/I'm told I ride it well/I've got a gift in my underwear/ We'll share at the wedding bell."
  • Flawless Token: Defied in One of Us. The female knight the singer sees in her youth isn't any better than her male peers, but just the fact that she stands with them as an equal inspires the singer to become a warrior herself.
  • The Fool:
    • Pierre in "Pierre and Marianne". Also a Cloudcuckoolander.
    • Don Ambruglio in "Up Into the Pear Tree".
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: Heather has one for Medieval English and Welsh culture and folklore, as evidenced by the large number of albums about Arthurian mythology.
  • Gayngst-Induced Suicide: The cover of "I Never Will Marry" is a love between two women, one of whom killed herself, and the protagonist will never marry a man as she pines for her.
  • The Good King: "I Follow My King" is about one such King and why the singer follows him.
  • The High Queen: Along with The Good King, the leaders the listener is encouraged to acknowledge in "Bow to the Crown". Guinevere describes herself as this in "Queens of Avalon".
  • Inhumanly Beautiful Race: The Fair Folk in the song of the same name are described as "tall and proud and wondrous, fair."
  • Interspecies Romance: "The Maiden and the Selkie" describes one between a human woman and a selkie man, complicated by the fact that she cannot breathe underwater and he cannot live on land for more than a day.
  • Karmic Jackpot: The protagonist in "Fisherman's Boy" makes a habit of only taking as much fish as he needs, throwing the extra ones he catches back in. When he falls overboard in a storm, he's washed up alive on the shore the next morning, the sea having thrown him back out.
  • Lady of War: The main character in "One of Us", who becomes an accomplished fighter in the SCA.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: "Changeling Child" concerns a couple who wanted a child for twelve years, but the wife can't have one. Driven to desperation, she bargains with the fairies to give her one, which turns out badly.
  • Literal Genie: Either out of ignorance or malice, the fairies in "Changeling Child" gave an infertile woman a changeling baby... who never ages, as a babe was what she asked for.
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
    • "The Poachers" has a cheery, upbeat tune for a song about poaching. This is downplayed for most of the text, which from the point of view of the singers is about feeding themselves by flouting tyrannical laws, but particularly glaring in the chorus, with a cheery tune describing the number of fingers poachers have cut off in punishment for taking particular animals.
    • "Pied Piper" also qualifies, with a happy tune about children and a wandering piper conning a town and insisting that their parents wouldn't miss them.
  • Merlin and Nimue: "Hawthorn Tree" is a song about the original; in the last verse, a knight reports that Vivien had turned Merlin into a tree.
  • The Middle Ages: A main source of inspiration for Heather's songs, including the "Current Middle Ages", aka the Society for Creative Anachronism.
  • Minimalist Cast: The musical Queens of Avalon has S. J. Tucker and Heather as Guinevere and Morgana, with others being talked about but never seen.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: "These are the actual medieval lyrics, I didn't make this up" for a lyric in Martin Said To His Man during public performances.
  • Omniglot: Heather sings in English, French, Gaelic, Latin, German, and even Wendat.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Call the Names (both the song and the album) praise Heather's Society for Creative Anachronism kingdom of Ealdormere. A downplayed example as Ealdormere is not a country outside of the SCA.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: What the narrator of "As I Am" is hoping for.
    "Don't take me out of duty, don't take me out of pride
    Just take me if the man you see is one you'd stand beside
    I'm offering an open heart, I'm asking for your hand
    And I only ask you take me, you take me as I am..."
  • Politically Correct History: Zigzagged in "Trail of Tears". on the one hand, the narrator rejects racism, despite being a 19th century Southerner. On the other hand, the song is about the eviction of Native Americans due to the same racist beliefs.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: The protagonists of "Black Fox" are fox hunters who end up confronted by the devil
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Triumphant Return is Penelope chewing out Odysseus for leaving her alone to raise their son, rule over Ithaca and fend off her suitors for twenty years while he gallivanted across the Aegean and expecting to be welcomed back with open arms.
  • Roguish Poacher: "The Poachers" is about a band of these in the time of William the Conqueror. They aren't evil men, but Robin Hood-esque types just trying to get by under the overlordship of a new and more tyrannical lord than King Harold.
  • Ruder and Cruder:
    • "Pierre and Marianne" is a piece of Feghoot with an amazing ending line.
    • Subverted in "The Poachers". Despite referring to William the Conqueror as "the Bastard" this was a title that he held in real life.
  • Selkies and Wereseals: The Maiden and the Selkie is about a human girl (whose great-grandmother is implied to have been a selkie herself) and a "Seal-Lord" selkie who wants her for his bride.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: Culhwch and Olwen refers to Modron as Mabon's father. Modron is his mother, with his father being uncertain, though people think that his father's name was Mellt (blending him with another Mabon mentioned in Arthurian mythology.)
  • Satan Is Good: A downplayed example in "Black Fox." While the devil isn't exactly good, he's only a harmless prankster.
  • Speak of the Devil: In Black Fox, a fox hunter frustrated with the lack of quarry remarks that he would chase the Devil himself if he were there, with predictable results.
  • Tyke-Bomb: "Mordred's Lullaby" is about Morgan turning Mordred into one.
  • The Magic Goes Away: "White Rose" is about the elves leaving the earth.
  • Villain Song: "Mordred's Lullaby" and "Crashing Down" are straight examples, with "Joan" being an Anti-Hero song and "Trail of Tears" being an antivillain version.
  • Vulgar Humor: Pierre and Marianne which ends on an Innocent Innuendo by Pierre:
    "My dear, I bring you my good ass
    I'm told I ride it well
    I've got a gift in my underwear
    We'll share at the wedding bell."
  • Wandering Minstrel: Troubador is about one of these. It is implied that the titular harpist has died. They also make an appearance in "Come And Be Welcome":
    "Come from the forest and sit 'round the fire
    Come from the fields and enter our hall
    Come drink from the guest-cup, come join in our circle
    Come and be welcome ye bards one and all."
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: "Changeling Child" tells about a childless woman who goes to the faeries to ask for a baby. After a long night's bargaining, she comes home with one, to great joy from her and her husband — only for them to find that their "son" will never grow beyond babyhood. Even in death, the mother still tends the changeling.