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or female musicians this involves changes in working practices, most obviously impacting on time spent away from home. Sarah Coxson is (as Reid says) “A brilliant agent” and a single mum who built up her business from the back room at home. Sarah is used to “working with mothers who are musi- cians. Part of my role is trying to make it happen for them to carry on touring, planning around holidays and including childminding in the package.”


Delyth Jenkins says, “I never had any


difficulty as a female musician; my only difficulty was raising a family and getting out there. My career was on hold when the children were small. If you have a gig and they’re ill it’s very hard. My husband and I separated, but he did look after them sometimes. As a single parent it’s dif- ficult for women to balance that. For mothers who are self-employed musicians, it’s even more difficult. My greatest cre- ative achievement is my two daughters, but I’m proud I managed to hang on to my musical career.” Jenkins is currently work- ing in a duo with her daughter Angharad, herself now celebrating ten years in top Welsh band Calan, and their duo album Llinyn Arian is about to be released.


Whilst every mother I spoke to for this feature says that they are only able to con- tinue with their career thanks to enormous support from their colleagues, partners, friends and wider family, women’s equal right to work involves a shift in assumptions rooted in wider society/the hierarchy. Demand for equal pay that can be seen sim- ply in terms of basic human rights, whispers alarm into the ears of men afraid of women’s changing roles and how their own roles must change in relation to them.


Equal pay raises issues of recognition. Recognition matters not just for personal gratification but because it’s an important aspect in getting work, particularly (again) if you’re a self-employed folk musician. It’s also a factor in how much you can earn.


Top: Angharad & Delyth Jenkins Middle: HEISK. Below: Rachael McShane


This is impacted by women’s own ‘agreeableness’. Because we don’t speak up about what we do, Harbour argues, it’s assumed we haven’t done it. Her work is a case in point. Anyone who has seen or heard Spiro will know that their music is instrumental, composed, exquisitely detailed and transcendent. The music is often inspired by traditional tunes, which might be suggested by one of the band. As might other musical elements. But she is the main composer. She says people are always surprised. “I’m the only woman in the band, and if they consider it at all, they never think I could be the main composer.”


Part of the recognition issue, MacMas- ter says, is that “We’ve bought into narra- tives that eat into our own confidence. I find myself doing it all the time, under- mining myself as a way of fitting in.” Mac- Coll concurs. “It’s such a Scottish thing to play yourself down, it’s drummed into young women that to be confident and to assert yourself is not a positive thing. Echo- ing down the generations, this will only have an effect on women and not inspire women to make music.”


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