Carolyn Hillyer

Carolyn Hillyer is a composer of strong beautiful songs and raw inspiring chants, and a powerful performer in concert. She sings of ancient spirit and hidden memory, of ancestral roots and the deep experience of women in the weaving of courageous life paths. She has released eleven albums of work to date, both solo projects and creative collaborations with Nigel Shaw. Her songs are renowned for their unique perspective and compelling voice.

As well as playing many drums in her performances and recordings, Carolyn is a drum-maker, creating traditional frame drums from skins and other materials sourced both on Dartmoor and during her journeys to the Arctic. She makes many of the instruments that she uses in concert including red deer, horse, reindeer, elk, salmon, horned, paddle, death and other ceremonial drums.

Carolyn is an artist, a painter of life-size images of archetypal and mythological women, the mystery cycles of womanhood and the sacred landscape in human form. Her paintings are exhibited within installations that celebrate the deep magic and integrity of the ancestral land - as an artist she is continually fed by the raw energy of the wild hills in which she lives. Her most recent exhibition THE NORTHERN SISTERHOOD OF DRUMS drew closely on her journeys during several winters into the frozen Arctic landscape, combining a life-size council of ancestral grandmothers with ceremonial drums and other shamanic totems gathered around a sacred winter house or traditional northern lavo. Carolyn also writes powerful mythic stories that explain and expand on the symbolism in her paintings and songs: some of her writings have been published as collections and source books both within the UK and Europe.

For over thirteen years Carolyn has been leading an ever-evolving programme of workshop journeys based around the themes of her work. They range from large inclusive celebrations of ancestry and pagan spirit, to longer intensive weekends for women at her farm on Dartmoor that establish an environment in which women can be supported and inspired in the exploration of their own sacred landscape and spiritual creativity.

Her albums such as WEATHERED EDGE and HOUSE OF THE WEAVERS have become classics, with many of her songs sung by others in chanting groups and dancing circles.

CAVE OF ELDERS represents a departure from the rich and complex lyrics of her other work, being an improvised series of wordless songs, whereas the most recent DRUM SONGS FROM THE HEATHEN HILLS concentrates on the powerful union of voice and drum.

Her work with the bands RIVEN and GLOBAL, as well as her creative collaboration with Nigel in the ANCESTOR and EXILE projects demonstrates a wilder unleashed approach to both voice and lyrics.

 

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