Born and raised in Orkney, Jessica immersed herself in traditional music from a young age. She began playing piano when she was 8 years old, followed by the clarsach at 11. Jessica immediately fell in love with the instruments sound and it became her main instrument. She was initially taught clarsach by Mark Shiner, an Orcadian harp maker and was soon attending courses at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival. At 12 she became a member of fiddle group Hadhirgaan led by acclaimed fiddler Douglas Montgomery (Saltfishforty, The Chair). Douglas was and still is one of Jessica’s biggest musical inspirations. Through Hadhirgaan, Jessica was given many opportunities to perform over the years including a tour of Canada in 2005 and performances at Celtic Connections and The Scots Trad Music Awards.
In 2008 Jessica began her studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland on the Scottish Music Course under the tuition of Wendy Stewart and Hannah Phillips. During her time studying she developed her talent composing and arranging music for the clarsach. In 2011 Jessica was given the opportunity to write music for several short films including award winning The Taxidermist and a show reel to celebrate the Dewar Awards’ 10th Anniversary.
In 2010 Jessica was awarded the Clan Currie Award for Clarsach, and in 2012 won the Orkney Folk Festival Open Stage as a soloist. The following year she returned with her harp duo Mira to perform at the festival. Mira are an electric/acoustic harp duo that have performed across Scotland, including at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival. Mira released their debut EP in 2013 to critical acclaim. The 5 track EP features original compositions and arrangements that blend a fresh new sound with traditional tunes.
Jessica was one of the finalists of the BBC Young Traditional Musician on Year 2016. The final took place on the last day of Celtic Connections and went out live on BBC Radio Scotland.
Jessica is an in-demand soloist providing music for weddings and corporate events; recent engagements include playing for Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister, and the HRH Prince Charles. Jessica was involved in several performances during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014. These included a concert at the athletes village and a reception for the Heads of State where guests included the Prime Minister David Cameron and HRH Prince Edward.
Teaching is another aspect of music that Jessica particularly enjoys, and she is currently clarsach tutor at The Junior Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and The Glasgow Academy, as well as previously teaching at various different Feisean.