Nfld. & Labrador·FIRST LISTEN

The otherworldly music of harpist Kira Sheppard

Harpist Kira Sheppard transfixes and transports indie pop audiences with her retro heavenly sounds.

Have a First listen to The Hollow Earth by Kira Sheppard

Kira Sheppard's album, the Hollow Earth, puts the harp in an indie pop/rock setting. (Courtesy Kira Sheppard )

"I really like sounds that are meditative and otherworldly," says harpist and singer/songwriter Kira Sheppard.

Sheppard performs mostly for enthusiastic indie pop and rock audiences.  

"I think it [the harp] has a quality to it that's really healing, and I think people are really drawn to it in these times."

Ways of 'being with the instrument'

Sheppard started played the harp at the age of eight, and studied classical harp with the influential St. John's music teacher Carla Furlong for a decade.  

Then, as a young adult, Sheppard said she "Explored other ways of writing and being with the instrument."

About 10 years ago, she started songwriting with it, and amassed a collection of songs that eventually ended up on her album, The Hollow Earth.

Harp, autoharp and handbells

Sheppard said the songs on The Hollow Earth are inspired by moments in her life.

"The lyrics are grounded in reality, they're moments from life,  but I love the idea of taking those [words] and bringing them to another place," said Sheppard.

On The Hollow Earth, Sheppard is backed up by a full band, and a couple of other rarely heard instruments, the autoharp and handbells.

"We wanted to make it a little bit retro, a little bit ethereal, and have people transported to another place."

Sheppard acknowledged that hardly anyone else uses the harp like she does, in a pop music context — but to her, that's the point of it.

"In a way, it's such an instrument from antiquity," said Sheppard.

"It has such a romantic sound." 

Kira Sheppard tells Heather about her new album, The Hollow Earth, and why the harp is perfectly suited for alternative pop music. 17:30

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About the Author

Heather Barrett is the host and producer of Weekend AM on CBC Radio One in Newfoundland and Labrador.