Sophie Stephenson is a traditional musician and step dancer from Fort Augustus, in the Scottish Highlands. Introduced to step dance by Harvey Beaton at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on the Isle of Skye, Sophie continued to build on her repertoire of steps, learning from dancers including Donal Brown, Frank McConnell, Deirdre Graham, Jane MacNeil and Margie Beaton.
Website - http://www.sophabulous.co.uk/
Stemming from an upbringing in Highland culture, Sophie has a passion for traditional music and dance which she has pursued through academic study. Research into performance contexts and the traditions of the Taigh Cèilidh in Scotland and Canada formed part of her honours degree in Scottish Literature and Scottish Ethnology, with the School of Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh. In 2013 Sophie was awarded the Lisa Ullmann Dance Scholarship which allowed her to follow her interest in emigrant traditions across to the Canadian Maritimes. She travelled to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia to meet with dancers and explore Cape Breton and Acadian dance traditions within their community context.
Sophie is particularly interested in the rhythmical relationships between language, music, song and dance. She is the founding member of trad group Huradal in which dance is an integral part of performance both as a percussive response to the music and also a rhythmical impetus behind the musical arrangements. Sophie has also developed TradBeats, a project which brings together the core elements of voice and movement through rhythm, with Gaelic mouth music, beatboxing, step dance and body percussion.
Sophie is dedicated to promoting and passing on the tradition of step dance and set up Sophabulous Steps to teach step dance whilst living on Isle of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland where she studied traditional music at Colaiste Bheinn na Faoghla. Since then Sophie has collaborated on a number of projects which have led her to teach and perform throughout Scotland and internationally at camps and festivals including Celtic Connections (Glasgow); Ceòlas(South Uist); Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (Isle of Skye), Belladrum Festival (Inverness); Blas Festival (Scotland); Best of the West Festival (Inveraray); TradFest (Edinburgh); The Fringe (Edinburgh); Womad (England); Champlain Valley Percussive Dance (Burlington, Vermont); Rollobay Fiddle Festival (Prince Edward Island, Canada); P.E.I Fiddle Camp (Charlottetown, Canada); Re-Jigged Festival (Nova Scotia, Canada) and UKM Arctic Art Impulse (Troms, Norway).
Sophie is currently involved in various creative projects including THREADS, TradBeats and Huradal and is also a regular tutor with Fèisean nan Gàidheal.
Sophie keeps her creative ventures diverse and interesting, recently teaming up with talented duo: Tiree fiddler Jamie MacDonald and Austrian piper Christian Gamauf. The musical partnership of the Scottish Pipes and Fiddle is one that is quintessentially and historically Hebridean. Jamie and Christian have taken this format and incorporated infuences from places such as Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia and Asturius in the north of Spain, putting their own stamp on the music.
Jamie and Christian met while living and studying on the Isles of Uist and began playing together at local concerts and events. After travelling to Asturius on a musical and cultural exchange project, along with performances at Ceol on the Croft, Celtic Connections and Celtic Colours Festivals, the duo started working on their Debut Album, The Pipe Slang.
The album features the traditional music of the Hebrides and includes songs from Tiree as well as self-penned material and tunes from further afield. Guesting on the lead vocals is Jamie’s twin sister Anna MacDonald who alongside, Jack McRobbie on Guitar, Cape Bretoner Adam Young on Piano, Anna-Wendy Stevenson on Viola and Step Dancer Sophie Stephenson, join the duo making for a driving and authentic album.
Since its release The Pipe Slang has received widespread critical acclaim and was longlisted for Album of the year at the Scots Trad Awards 2018.
Website - http://pipeslang.com/