This Scottish band emerged on the Gaelic folk scene at the start of the new millennium, offering an exciting contemporary interpretation of traditional Scottish and Irish music. Dòchas began life in 1997 as a ceilidh dance band, with the initial line-up comprising Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama students Rachel Walker (b. 1976, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England; vocals), Carol-Anne MacKay (b. Scotland; bagpipes, whistles, accordion) and Sharon Hassan (b. Scotland). The line-up was quickly expanded to accommodate Kathleen Boyle (b. Scotland; piano, accordion) and Eilidh MacLeod (b. Isle of Skye, Scotland; clarsach, piano). Dòchas built up an exciting reputation on the traditional circuit, playing at numerous indoor and outdoor venues throughout Europe. In 2000, Julie Fowlis (b. North Uist, Scotland; vocals, pipes, whistles) and RSAMD graduate Jenna Reid (b. Shetland, Scotland; fiddle, vocals) were brought in to replace the outgoing Walker and Hassan. Fowlis’ voice added a new dimension to the band’s sound, and with the signing of a recording contract they entered the studio to work on their debut album. The self-titled set featured an exciting mix of ballads and up-tempo reels and polkas, with Fowlis and Reid contributing the bulk of the vocals. The positive critical and commercial response to the album led to the band being voted Best Newcomer at the Scottish Traditional Music Awards in 2004.
One of the guest musicians on Dòchas, bodhrán player Martin O’Neill, was drafted into the line-up on the band’s 2005 follow-up, An Dàrna Umhail (The Second Glance). This highly impressive album proved to be another enjoyable romp through contemporary and traditional material, with the Fowlis/Reid duet ‘I Ho Ro’s Na Hug Oroa Eile’/‘Ae Fond Kiss’ a particular highlight.