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Dan Ar Braz, born as Daniel Le Bras in Kemper/Quimper, Brittany on January 15, 1949, is a Breton guitarist.
At the age of 13, Daniel Le Bras obtained his first guitar after teaching himself how to play. He modelled himself on The Shadows, Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix. At the age of 17, he performed locally interpreting folk-rock songs by Donovan, Van Morrison and Rory Gallagher.
In 1967 Dan met Breton harpist and singer Alan Stivell who invited him to join his group. Stivell and his musicians embraced Breton, Scottish and Irish music and it was Stivell who opened Dan's eyes to the possibilities of Celtic music and its proximity with rock. Stivell "bretonised" Daniel Le Bras into Dan Ar Braz to show that he belonged to Breton culture rather than French culture. The sound of his electric guitar made an exciting mix with Alan's Celtic instruments and voice, and Breton Music was undergoing a revival. After a successful tour in France in 1972-73, they traveled around Europe, North America, and Australia.
In 1976, Braz relocated to Oxfordshire, England and joined the English folk band Fairport Convention. He changed his name again to Dan Ar Braz, and for about a year he toured with Fairport but did not record any studio albums with them. The experience renewed his confidence, and he returned to Brittany to record three solo albums in three years, each one using Celtic music.
Dan Ar Braz's greatest moment occurred in 1992, when the organiser of the Festival de Cornouaille in Quimper asked him to create a live show uniting traditional music with modern styles. Dan had many contacts in Britain, France, and America, and delivered beyond all expectations. Donal Lunny came from Ireland, Karen Matheson from Scotland, Elaine Morgan from Wales, and both Bagad Kemper and Alan Stivell came from Brittany. Altogether, 75 musicians were involved. The group, called L'Héritage des Celtes, performed their debut show at the Quimper Festival in July 1993, then went on to Rennes in 1994. A hugely successful studio recording recreated the show, which sold 100,000 copies in over ten countries, and a live album followed.
In 1997 they recorded the album "Finisterres" and again sold 100,000 copies. But with more than 70 musicians on stage at once, the show was tremendously difficult to put on. In August 2000 the group played at the "Festival Interceltique" in Lorient, where Dan announced that it would be the final concert.
Dan then returned to solo work. "La mémoire des volets blancs" (2001) is a tribute to the deceased friends from his childhood, and is an instrumental nostalgic piece. He performed in another huge show at the Stade de France in Paris on St Patrick's Day in 2002.
For the following albums, he worked with his friends' singers Clarisse Lavanant, Jean-Jacques Goldman and Red Cardell. In 2012, with Bagad Kemper, he produced "Celebration" in Brittany, an album and a tour unifier which gets closer to the spirit of L'Héritage des Celtes, but centres on Brittany.
In 2015, the album "Cornouailles Soubdtrack" was produced, which takes a more contemplative turn, telling the story of his life in instrumentals that range from Moon River and Oh Shenandoah to Dan's own compositions in a style that echoes his musical heroes, the English instrumental group The Shadows. Fanart Banner