GAELIC singer-songwriter Gillebrìde MacMillan is set to release a new album ahead of his concert at Celtic Connections.

MacMillan, from South Uist, Outer Hebrides, has been singing since he was a child and won gold medals at the Royal National Mòd in 2001 and 2004.

The vocalist is a celebrated name within the traditional music industry and served as the Gaelic consultant on the latest season of the hit TV show Outlander.

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Ahead of the release of the new body of work, Sèimh: The State of Calm, he told The National: “It is so important to have new Gaelic songs and this album is part of the resurgence of new Gaelic songwriting.”

The album includes a stellar line-up of traditional musicians including Karen Matheson and Margaret Stewart and tackles a wide range of topics from politics to mental health.

One of the songs serves as a tribute to Eilidh MacLeod, the 14-year-old from the Isle of Barra who died in the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing.

“It’s quite a personal song and I was very grateful to her parents as I wanted to make sure they were okay with it”, MacMillan explained.

“She died so young but her memory will stay on.”

MacMillan believes the Gaelic language is thriving but that it’s important we continue to ensure the language is able to hear itself in music and on screen.

He’s involved in both not just by working in the music industry but by ensuring the cast of Outlander’s Gaelic is spot on.

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MacMillan added: “I think in the 1960s, Gaelic was really thriving but then in the 70s and 80s, it was kept alive by Runrig and various other people.

“We had 1000 years of tradition almost come to an end but in the last number of years I think it has started to flourish with people like Mary Ann Kennedy and Rachel Walker.”

He credits social media as playing a huge role in making it easier for people to access Gaelic sounds.

“People can now get an audience for their songs. You’re going directly into people’s homes. It’s a different kind of community because it’s all online but you are going into the home through either a phone or a laptop”, he said.

The National: MacMillan is also an adviser on hit TV show OutlanderMacMillan is also an adviser on hit TV show Outlander (Image: Robin Mitchell)

He continued: “Part of the issue in the decline is that people always felt their Gaelic or their songs weren’t as good as what was composed 150 years ago but they are still worthy and worthwhile.

“When you have creativity in the language that shows the vibrancy and that it is doing well.

“Obviously it’s still a minority language and we have issues in traditional communities with declines in the number of speakers and so on but there are still opportunities to encourage people to tell their own stories.”

MacMillan also hosts a show on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal where he showcases new Gaelic writing called Òran Annad.

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The programme has been able to highlight 200 new Gaelic songs which have been composed in the last 10 years.

Among the singer’s fans is Outlander’s star Sam Heughan, who MacMillan previously said was “fantastic” at learning Gaelic.

Heughan wrote the foreword for the new album and explained how MacMillan taught him and Graham McTavish a song from the seventeenth century about the Battle of Inverlochy.

Heughan said: “It’s important to remember that Gaelic is a living and vibrant language and part of all Scotland – and the wider world.

“It’s a language I’m fascinated by and think holds great insight into our history and background of the character of this great country.

“In the best traditions of singer-songwriters he (MacMillan) regales us with personal, political and contemporary stories – with the Gaelic lyrics, melodies and instrumentation weaving together to envelope you in the sounds of modern Gaelic Scotland.”

MacMillan will be performing live at Celtic Connections on February 1. His new album is available for pre-order now and will be released on all platforms on February 3.