Iona

Folk

Celtic,British Folk,Atmospheric Rock

http://www.iona.uk.com/

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Iona is a British-based band whose lyrics focus on the roots of Christianity in the British Isles, and whose musical style is a blend of Celtic pop, rock and new age, often compared to that of Clannad, Enya, Kate Bush, Yes, and Peter Gabriel.

David Fitzgerald (sax, exotic wind instruments) who had been touring with Adrian Snell, Graham Kendrick, Bryn Haworth and other British musicians, is the founding member of Iona. In 1988, during a time of extreme physical and spiritual burnout, he traveled to Lindisfarne, a small island off the northeastern coast of England, related to Iona in its role in spreading the Gospel to England.

The island of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland has an important place in the history of Christianity in Great Britain. The conversion of pagan England was brought about by two distinct missions; one from Rome that landed in Kent in 597 - St Augustine, and the other brought from Ireland to Iona and later to Northumbria by St Columba.

On that trip to Lindisfarne, David Fitzgerald is "overwhelmed by the sense of history and atmosphere on that Holy Island". He wrote in his diary "I sense an incredible feeling of unity with the previous inhabitants. I am challenged by the lives of these early saints and our 1980's materialistic interpretation of Christianity. We certainly seem to have lost a lot of inner peace and serenity that this place echoes. I feel personally too locked into the cares of this earthly life; a life that centres itself on money, work, career, status and other material things - almost a slave to them." David was affected deeply by his experience and looking more deeply at the source of inspiration of Lindisfarne, traced it back to Iona.  Columba sailed to Iona from Ireland in AD563 and set up a monastery which became a missionary base from which Christianity spread throughout Scotland and northern Britain.

Thus the idea of Iona the band was formed as David shared his experiences with Dave Bainbridge, and the two suddenly had a focus for music for the band they had been thinking of getting together.

David Fitzgerald sent Joanne Hogg a postcard from Iona asking her if she would join the band. Joanne was the lead vocalist on Child of Darkness on Adrian Snell's Alpha and Omega rock opera. The same night Joanne received the postcard she had a dream about being on the island and the next morning she wrote the song 'Iona'. She accepted David's invitation and Iona, the band, was born.

By the time Iona released their first self-titled album in 1990, drummer Terl Bryant, bassist Nick Beggs (formerly the bassist of Kajagoogoo), Fiona Davidson on Celtic harp, Peter Whitfield on strings, Troy Donockley on Uillean pipes and percussionist Frank Van Essen had joined the band. The first album Iona concentrated mostly on the history of the island of Iona, from which the band got its name.

Iona returned in 1992 with The Book of Kells, a concept album with several tracks based on pages from the book of the same name. Terl Bryant took over on drums and percussion for this album after the departure of Frank Van EssenBeyond These Shores, the band's third album, was released in 1993 and included guest musician Robert Fripp. The album was loosely based on the legendary voyage of St. Brendan to the Americas before Christopher Columbus, but the band did not intend for it to be viewed strictly as a "concept album."

Journey into the Morn followed in 1995, a more accessible and rock-oriented album loosely based on the hymn "Be Thou My Vision," which was performed in Gaelic at the beginning of the album and again near the end. Máire Brennan, lead singer of Celtic/New Age band Clannad, was brought in to help Joanne with the Gaelic pronunciation, and she sang backup vocals.

Two live albums followed in the late 1990s: the double-disc Heaven's Bright Sun and Woven Cord, which was performed with the All Souls Orchestra. Terl Bryant departed the band between these two albums, and Frank Van Essen returned to fill the vacant spot, playing drums as well as violin, which could be heard on the band's 2000 album, Open Sky.

After being released from their U.S. contract with ForeFront Records and their UK contract with Alliance Records, Iona formed Open Sky Records to release material independently. The first new release on this label was the 2002 box set The River Flows, which featured their then-out-of-print first three albums (all remastered and several first album tracks even re-recorded), as well as a fourth disc of unreleased tracks and rarities called Dunes. The first three albums have since been re-released individually, with new cover art.

Iona have been in semi-hiatus for the better part of the current decade. However, 2006 saw the April release of a 2-disc live DVD Iona: Live in London, featuring a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround mix by LA's John Kellogg, and a November release of a new studio CD entitled The Circling Hour.

In June 2009 Troy Donockley announced that he was leaving Iona. A message on his website stated: "I have had a wonderful time with my friends in Iona and am very, very proud of the albums we made together. But, as in all life, things change. After extended periods of no activity we have found ourselves with a very different musical and philosophical direction. We have parted as great friends should, with a sad-happiness and I wish the band all the very best wishes for the future". Troy is currently a member of anti-Christian band The Bad Shepherds, which is obviously at odds with Iona's Christian foundation. He has been replaced by piper and woodwind player Martin Nolan.

Iona will be undertaking their first US tour for many years June. Prior to a series of  Dutch shows in October 2009,  demoed some of the powerful new songs that have been written so far for the next Iona album. Writing and recording  continued throughout January to May at various locations in England, Ireland and Holland and will continue after the USA trip.  At the moment the band are hoping for the album to be out around September.

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Discography

Album Title Year Label
Iona1990Open Sky Records
The Book of Kells1992Open Sky Records
Beyond These Shores1993Open Sky Records
Journey into the Morn1995Authentic Media
Iona Live: Heaven's Bright Sun1997Authentic Media
Woven Cord1999Authentic Media
Open Sky2000Authentic Media
The River Flows: Anthology, Vol. 12002Open Sky Records
Songs for Luca2003Open Sky Records
The Circling Hour2006Open Sky Records

Category:

Location:

United Kingdom

Record Label:

Open Sky Records

Christian Label:

Yes

Years Active:

90's

00's





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