This is unreleased footage of a collaboration between Welsh and Appalachian musicians for the After Coal documentary (aftercoal.com/). BBC Radio Wales presenter and folk musician Frank Hennessy works with Welsh fiddler Iolo Jones and Appalachian musician Trevor McKenzie and Rebecca Branson Jones to create a medley based on the Welsh hymn Calon Lan.
Frank told us Calon Lan had been brought across the Atlantic more than a century ago, where it evolved into Life’s Mountain Railway - a bluegrass gospel standard also known as Life’s Railway to Heaven. Eventually, the tune returned to Wales, and miners’ choirs changed the words, creating Miner’s Lifeguard (also known as A Miners’ Life), now a standard in the repertoire of Welsh male voice choirs. The musicians’ goal was to create a musical arrangement that that traced music across the Atlantic and back again.
This clip was recorded during a rehearsal in the BBC Radio Wales Studios on May 25, 2016.