Rebecca Pidgeon, the acclaimed Scottish actress, has also displayed her gift as a singer/songwriter on her several well-received albums. Taking elements from folk, pop, jazz, and Celtic traditions, Pidgeon crafts lilting, intimate poetry. Her witty and subtle personal voice is the catalyst for Four Marys, a warm and honest collection of irresistible Scottish folk songs.
While a teenager in Scotland, music came as naturally to Pidgeon as breathing. She sang along with the radio and her parents' Beatles and Joni Mitchell records as a light escape from her demanding acting studies. In Edinburgh, a friend asked her to sing on his demo tape. "I didn't know I was a singer at all," she recalls. "At first I felt ridiculous, because I hadn't trained to be a singer, hadn't even planned it. I didn't feel like a genuine singer, and the first songs I wrote didn't feel like real songs. It was only when people started saying to me, 'That's a wonderful song' that I finally began believing I was a singer and a songwriter."
Pidgeon has traveled a great distance since those early recording sessions when she and her friend didn't "know how to tune the guitars properly." She made two acclaimed British albums with the folk-pop band Ruby Blue, shared the stage with Lyle Lovett and Van Morrison, and played a series of New York gigs with Anthony Coote while she was starring in the New York stage production of Oleanna.
By the age of 23, the actress had found work in theater, film, and on BBC television, starring with the likes of Anthony Hopkins, David Warner, Ian Holm, and Dame Peggy Ashcroft. She had just played a lead in a star-strewn BBC production of Uncle Vanya when she moved to America in 1990 and married playwright David Mamet. "Coming to America was a huge change. I didn't have a plan in my head, and I had to start all over again with both my acting and my music," she says.
Pidgeon's emigration to America was, in fact, a homecoming. She was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1965, while her British physicist father was employed at M.I.T.. At the age of five, she moved with her parents to Edinburgh, Scotland, where she stayed until enrolling in London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art at 18, where she studied drama, music, and voice.
After returning to America, Pidgeon happened to hear a Kenny Rankin album that was released on Chesky Records, the New York-based audiophile record label. "It was recorded without overdubbing, and the sound was so beautiful and natural that I knew it was what I wanted. I wished to get away from the over-produced approach I'd known in England." So began Pidgeon's relationship with Chesky Records.
Her first Chesky release, The Raven (JD115), featured Pidgeon's stunning version of "Spanish Harlem." The Raven went on to become an audiophile classic, thanks to Pidgeon's crystalline voice and Chesky's high-fidelity recording techniques. Her second album, The New York Girls' Club (JD145), brought her unique singing and songwriting to more music lovers. "Songwriting became a very important form of self-expression for me, a rich part of my life," Pidgeon explains.
While growing up in Scotland, Pidgeon's father knew many Scottish songs in addition to American and British music. "It's a very small country and the music is all over. You hear it walking down Prices Street - there's always a bagpiper. It's soul music, an essential expression of the folk of Scotland. I like that it's not prissy or nice, but very dramatic and incredibly serious. To me, there's nothing like a good Scottish folk song."
Pidgeon shows listeners why on her latest Chesky release, Four Marys (JD165), now available on sumptuous DVD (CHDVD175). Intimately performed and recorded, Four Marys showcases Rebecca's unique interpretations of timeless Celtic folk songs. As much a testament to her musical roots as it is to her tremendous vocal presence, this recording leads both music lovers and audiophiles down an engaging new path.
She now resides in Boston and Vermont with her husband and their daughter. Between album projects, Pidgeon has starred in the Mamet plays Oleanna, Speed the Plow, The Old Neighborhood, and the motion pictures The Spanish Prisoner and The Winslow Boy.
"Rebecca Pidgeon is a singer whose clear, crystalline voice is an instrument of impeccable beauty." - CD Review
"Alternating the glassy clarity of early Joni Mitchell or Judy Collins with the wry swing of Rickie Lee Jones, Pidgeon delivers delicate art songs and Celtic derived folk, her arrangements achieving a cool jazz-meets-chamber-music elegance." - Rolling Stone
"A totally refreshing new voice. The first day I listened to The Raven, I put everything else aside and spent the entire day listening to her record over and over again." - Vin Scelsa, WXRK (KRock Radio, New York)
"...She uses her acting experience to bring revealing touches of setting and character to story songs...the playing, especially the guitars, is relaxed and slinky at the same time..." - Dirty Linen, May 1997
"Rebecca Pidgeon's New York Girl's Club also brought a smile to my lips, so realistic was the sound of her voice, so clearly outlined against the steady pitter-patter of percussion, the ring of piano and the metallic sting of the sax." - Hi-Fi News & Record Review, March 1997
"...beautifully performed and recorded...instead of feeling as if she had just entered the room, I felt as if I had been taken to where she was. Closing my eyes made it easy to forget I was anywhere else." - Stereophile, January 1997