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The folk singer Lisa Knapp stands in front of green trees, staring straight into the camera. Her hair is dyed blonde and she has a serious look on her face.

Lisa Knapp and the LIVING soundtrack

Lisa Knapp records 'The Rowan Tree' for the soundtrack to the major motion picture, LIVING, starring Bill Nighy.

It has been a while since we heard news from Lisa Knapp, but we’re always keen to hear what she’s been up to. According to the latest missives, she’s been busy indeed. Her recording of ‘The Rowan Tree’ [Roud 23799] appears on the soundtrack to LIVING, a new film starring Bill Nighy as an unhappy city gent living in the early 1950s who finds delight in life in the wake of a terminal diagnosis.

The film is based on the Akira Kurosawa movie, Ikiru (1952). The screenplay was written by Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Kazuo Ishiguro.

Knapp’s contribution to the LIVING soundtrack sits alongside music written entirely by Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch, a London-based, Ivor Novello and BIFA-nominated French composer, pianist and recording artist.

The folk artist’s recording showcases her extraordinary, unique voice, singing as an accompanied performance for the first verse before being joined by orchestral backing. She was personally invited to record the song by the film’s director, Oliver Hermanus. The song appears several times throughout the film – Bill Nighy sings it at the piano in a touching scene early on in the film, and Lisa Knapp sings it over the final credits. Knapp’s previous albums include Till April Is Dead ≈ A Garland of May, Hidden Seam, and Wild and Undaunted.

The lyrics to ‘The Rowan Tree’ are often credited as having been written by Lady Nairne (1766-1845), a writer and collector of folk songs, while the tune’s origin is unknown. ‘The Rowan Tree’ appeared in R. A. Smith’s Scottish Minstrel (1822). A relatively rare song, it only appears five times in the archive at Cecil Sharp House.

The original soundtrack to LIVING is released on November 4th.