Excitement is running high in Burra at the news that American singers The Whites are to appear at this year’s Thomas Fraser Memorial Festival in November.
This award-winning family band consists of Buck White with daughters Cheryl and Sharon who is married to bluegrass star Ricky Skaggs.
The Whites play bluegrass, country, folk, gospel and Texas swing and many will be familiar with their output, making them arguably the highest-profile act to appear on the stage at Hamnavoe. The announcement comes after weeks of speculation and the Nashville-based group are the first to be confirmed in the line-up for the festival which runs from Thursday 8th to Saturday 10th November.
Among the accolades The Whites have received are two Grammy awards, the first in 2001 for their participation in the soundtrack of the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? The second, for Salt of the Earth, a collaboration with Ricky Skaggs, was awarded in 2008 and that same year The Whites were inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame.
Festival chairman Karl Simpson said: “We have worked really hard to get The Whites across because they are just perfect for the Festival. Shetland country music fans are in for a real treat and can look forward to another memorable weekend in Burra.
“It will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see this fantastic group on stage; with ongoing commitments in the USA and in particular a regular slot on the Grand Ole Opry, their appearances in Europe are very rare.”
A festival spokesman said: “Details of tickets will be announced in the autumn. Due to the high costs involved in bringing acts across from the States, we are looking at putting on one or two small, special country shows in Burra to raise funds. So keep an eye out for these events as they will be unique in their own right.”
The Thomas Fraser Festival started life in 2002 as a single celebratory concert to launch the first Thomas Fraser CD Long Gone Lonesome Blues. It is hoped that the 2012 festival will feature another CD launch.
Mr Simpson said: “I am currently working through the tracks for the sixth CD and my aim is to have the album ready for November. Recently four cassette tapes, which belonged to the late Tammie Burgess of the Ness, were discovered and I am delighted to delay the process a bit until I can study what is on these new tapes.
“Tammie was a big fan of Thomas’s music and I’m chuffed that he will be able to contribute in this way. I’d like to thank Tammie’s widow Pearl and Peter Hutchison for finding the tapes.”