The third North Atlantic Song Convention (NASC) took take place at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh, Scotland between 22-24 March 2024

The event brings together singers and traditional arts supporters from afar to discuss, learn and share our various song traditions. The convention hosts talks, workshops, panels, song circles, concerts, and more.  

This convention supports, encourages and develops three main audiences:
1. Grassroots community and non-professionals.
2. Academics, educationalists and archives.
3. Professional artists and industry. 

NASC is inclusive and very welcoming to everyone interested in learning about and partaking in our singing traditions.  Many of the events are informal and accessible, and all are encouraged to join in and partake in activities.  

NASC 2024 is supported and co-funded by TRACS, Trad Music Forum, Creative Scotland (National Lottery), Access Folk, and more.  


All events took place in the Scottish Storytelling Centre except for the North Atlantic Song Club on Friday night.  

A pdf of the programme is available here.  

Friday 22 March 2024

1230-1330 Registration

1330-1420 Keynote Talk by Professor Mairéad Nic Craith - Navigating the “Carrying Stream” with Danny Boy 
This talk explores the journey of song through the lens of a traditional Irish tune known as “Danny Boy” or the “(London)Derry Air”. Mairéad explores the creativity inherent in passing on song from one generation to the next and from one tradition to another. Playing different renditions of the song, Mairéad raises questions about folk-memory, cultural nationalism, appropriation and legitimacy. Throughout the presentation, Mairéad weaves in the story of her own personal engagement with the song. 

1430-1530 Panel - Futureproofing Archives and Collections
with Dr Ingrid Åkesson, Steve Byrne, Dr Thomas McKean
A thought-provoking panel discussion exploring the strategic measures to safeguard and advance the integrity and accessibility of our cultural treasures for the benefit of future generations.

1430-1545 Workshop - English Song
with Kit Knight

1600-1715 Discussion: Respecting Tradition - Encouraging Innovation
with Eilidh Cormack and Prof. Fay Hield
All folk singers feel passionate about preserving tradition but many also experiment with innovative arrangements and presentation of their music to wider audiences.  This discussion will cover the fine balance between authentic representation of tradition versus modern trends in an increasingly digital world.  

1600-1715 Workshop - Welsh Song
with Jordan Price Williams
An introduction to Welsh folk song. Learn pronunciation of the Welsh language, about the melodies peculiar to Wales and learn a song together. 

1930-2100 Concert
Jordan Price Williams; Kit Knight Folk; Linus Orri; Eilidh Cormack; Fay Hield

2100-2330 North Atlantic Song Club
at The Kilderkin Pub, 67 Canongate

Saturday 23 March 2024

0945-1000 Welcome/Registration

1000-11:15 Panel - A Career in Song?
with Tom Besford and Daina Zalane
Is it possible to have a full-time career as a folk singer?  What opportunities are open to singers and what partnerships and methods are required to help make a sustainable career in song?  

1000-1115 Workshop - Icelandic Song
with Linus Orri
In this introduction to Icelandic folk songs, you will learn of the different traditions of singing in Iceland as well as the opportunity to learn a song or two.   

1130-1245 Workshop - “Traditional” Songwriting
with David Francis
Folklorist Hamish Henderson's metaphor of the 'carrying stream' of tradition is understood as a constant source available to and necessary for artists of all kinds to 'remake and renew', where each new generation has the potential to create new meaning in dialogue with what has come before.  Explore traditional songwriting with Dave Francis. 

1130-1245 Panel - Educating and Inspiring the Next Generation
with Emma Björling and Dr Thomas McKean
How do we formally and informally educate those seeking to engage with traditional song?  What barriers do tradition bearers face and how can we ensure that the next generation continues to envigorate our traditions in an authentic and respectful manner?  

1330-1400 Presentation - Singing in Times of War
with Daina Zalāne and Zane Šmite
Creating a Latvian-Ukrainian community based on singing Ukrainian folksongs as a form of expressing solidarity. Singing folksongs as a means to create connections across long distances and to strengthen mutual moral and tangible support in times of crisis. #singwithUkraine

1400-1515 Workshop - Recording and Releasing Folk Song
with Brian Ó hEadhra

1400-1515 Knowledge Sharing Session
Share information on your project and events - Open to all

1530-1645 Workshop - Irish Song
with Bláithín Mhic Cana

1530-1645 Panel - Making Traditions Accessible
with Dr Esbjörn Wettermark and Josie Duncan
This thought-provoking panel will look at strategies for making folk song traditions more accessible and inclusive, fostering diversity and equality within the cultural landscape.  

1930-2100 Concert
Bláithín MacCann; Josie Duncan; David Francis; Daina Zalane & Zane Šmite 

2100-2330 North Atlantic Folk Song Club
at the Scottish Storytelling Centre

Sunday 24 March 2024

1030-1130 NASC Annual General Meeting and Future Planning.  All welcome. 

1130-1300 Final Song Circle 

Guest singers and speakers

Mhic Cana

Bláithín Mhic Cana is a dedicated Irish language teacher in Ulster, Ireland, who carries on her family's tradition of Gaelic song transmission. Actively involved in Irish Gaelic community initiatives, she nurtures the language and culture, contributing to Irish language families' growth in south Armagh.

Ó hEadhra

Based in the Highlands and raised in Newfoundland and Ireland, Brian Ó hEadhra is a renowned Gaelic singer-songwriter and musician. With a career spanning over 30 years, he's a cultural advocate, co-founder/convenor of NASC, and Partnerships and Development Manager for Scotland's Gaelic language board. He is co-founder of the Inverness Acoustic Music Club. 


Daina Zālane, founder of Culture Management Centre Lauska, is a folk music enthusiast promoting authentic roots music and fostering international collaborations. As a programming director for Valmiermuiža Ethnomusic Festival, she contributes to the vibrant Latvian folk music scene and is a broad member of the European Folk Network. 


As Director of the Traditional Music Forum, David actively engages with and advocates for numerous folk music projects. He's a musician, songwriter, and a board member of NASC and the European Folk Network, contributing to the vibrant  Scottish and European folk music landscape.


Dr. Esbjörn Wettermark, a versatile musician and folk music researcher, contributes to cultural policy and music education. Engaged in Access Folk, he focuses on co-production and inclusivity in folk singing, bringing valuable perspectives to the community. Esbjörn is on the NASC board.


Dr. Ingrid Åkesson is an ethnomusicologist who delves into historical and contemporary aspects of traditional vocal music. Specialising in Swedish folk music, she has explored aspects of creativity, re-creativity, gender and heritage within Scandinavian song traditions.


Eilidh Cormack, a skilled Scottish Gaelic singer from Skye, collaborates with various musical projects. With a rich background in Gaelic language and song, she contributes to traditional and electronic music, bridging the gap between heritage and innovation.


Emma Björling, a leading Swedish folksong singer, brings her expertise to vocal groups and international collaborations. Co-convenor and co-founder of NASC, she's dedicated to preserving and promoting Swedish traditional music and song at home and abroad.

Price Williams

Jordan Price Williams, an acclaimed folk singer from Wales, revives Welsh traditional arts with chamber-folk trio VRï. Passionate about sharing narratives of marginalised communities, he reinterprets Welsh songs, contributing to the vibrant Welsh folk scene.


Josie Duncan, a diverse folk singer from the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, enchants with her crystal-clear voice in Gaelic, Scots, and English. Awarded BBC Radio 2's Young Folk Award, she explores traditional and contemporary folk, pushing the boundaries of the Scottish folk tradition.


Linus Orri, an Icelandic multi-instrumentalist and advocate for traditional singing styles, contributes significantly to Iceland's folk music scene. As folk festival director and choir conductor, he actively preserves and promotes traditional Icelandic songs.


Dr. Fay Hield, an acclaimed singer and professor, explores the English folk tradition with a distinctive voice. Leading the 'Access Folk' project, she works to increase participation in folk singing, blending tradition with contemporary arrangements.

Nic Craith

Dr. Mairéad Nic Craith, a professor of public folklore with the University of the Highlands and Islands, has a vast international background working with UNESCO and the UN. Specialising in critical heritage studies, she brings expertise to the intersection of folklore, identity, and cultural diversity.


Steve Byrne, a Scottish folklorist, singer, and accompanist, is a key figure in Scotland's traditional music scene. As Director of TRACS, he advocates for Scotland's traditional arts, preserving and celebrating its cultural heritage.


Tom Besford, Chief Executive at English Folk Expo and board member of NASC, leads initiatives promoting folk music, song, and dance. With extensive experience in cultural strategy and management, he plays a crucial role in expanding the reach of traditional arts nationally and internationally.


Dr. Thomas McKean, a folklorist specialising in Scots and Gaelic song, focuses on traditional practices and community resilience. As a dedicated educator, he imparts knowledge on custom and belief, shaping the discourse around Scotland's cultural heritage.


Zane Šmite is a trained teacher of traditional singing and a consultant for projects related to traditional song. She has collaborated with many Latvian musicians in recordings of academic and traditional music both as an arranger and a studio musician.


Originally from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Kit Knight is a leading light in the northern English folk singing scene.  Kit's clear voice and strong delivery has wowed audiences in folk clubs and venues with their choice of rich English and Irish material.  

Travel & Accommodation

The Scottish Storytelling Centre is based at 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1SR and is just a five-minute walk from Waverley train station and central bus/tram stops.  The bus station is a ten-minute walk away.   

There are many hotels, hostels and self-catering options in the centre of Edinburgh.  Use your normal travel app to find accommodation or use Google Travel.  

Early booking is advised to avail of the best prices for accommodation and travel.