Born and raised on the Isle of Skye, Steaphanaidh grew up in a large family immersed in Gaelic music and culture. Her parents are both freelance artists, her father being a Gaelic writer and her mother a sculptor.
In 2006, Steaphanaidh became an instrumental pupil at St Mary's Music School in Edinburgh, studying the clarsach, clarinet, saxophone and Gaelic singing. Her tutors included Helen Macleod, Catriona McKay and Patsy Seddon. In 2010 she was encouraged to start exploring the pedal harp and was immediately struck by the musical and tonal possibilities she found the instrument could deliver.
Steaphanaidh has played at Celtic Connections with the band Kilairum, at festivals at home and abroad, and on tour with youth orchestras and on the Feis Rois Trad Trail. In 2010 and 2011 she was a finalist in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards and a semi-finalist at the 2011 BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year.
Steaphanidh is extremely passionate about music and enjoys exploring different genres and instruments, which she feels feeds creativity and spontaneity back into her harp playing. She writes:
"What I have discovered is that music is always contemporary, no matter how ancient the instrument: the desire of all musicians at all times was (and remains) to articulate the world in which they live. The harp and clarsach do that for me."
How the Award Helped
Steaphanidh gained a place at the prestigious Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, studying harp under the tutorship of Eira Lynn-Jones. She was granted an award to support her studies.