More on Barbiel

So, yes, Barbiel is a nickname and her birth name is Barbara-Ellen, but that can get her bogged-down with hyphens.

She was raised in Athens, Ohio with a high emphasis placed on scholarship and learning and the arts. Her father was award winning author Jack Matthews, (Charisma Campaigns; Hangar Stout, Awake; Gambler’s Nephew, and a couple dozen more…)

Visual art, drawing and painting is her original creative form. She studied it in college, and pursued it as a young wife and mother. Entered art shows, exhibited at some nice places, won a few awards, sold a bit.

The Light of Healing, 38″ x 48″, oil on canvas, 1991.

Lost most of her eyesight….during those years that things were dimming, she managed to fill her creative hours with music, and moved away from visual art. She had written songs earlier at times in her childhood and early adulthood and hadn’t done anything with them. She learned to play an instrument (a few mandolin lessons, then guitar) and gradually began to give life to the songs. (And her cataracts were easily remedied, but it took her away from visual art for several years)

Gwenivere’s Lament, (c) Matthews/Saunders, from Silent Lion CD

in 1993 John Saunders was her mandolin teacher and showed an interest in her songs. Those would have been Satellite to Reason, These Hills They’re Shy, Dancing on the Ice Floes, Holy Ground, Gwenivere’s Lament, Mabinogion, Please Pretend, and All My Dreams. (below)

All My Dreams

These songs were written at a time when she didn’t play an instrument and in some cases they began life as poetry. These Hills They’re Shy and Dancing On the Ice Floes are two examples of that. Once she found melodies for them she realized they had meant to be songs all along.

These Hills, They’re Shy

Meanwhile, John seemed impressed with her lyricist ability and gave her one of his tunes for her to put lyrics to (Go to the Fountain). He loved the result and they were on their way collaborating. He arranged her songs, adding parts, embellishing, editing, and she was writing lyrics for his.

Soon they were a music duo, and a couple years later they married.

Their style of music is best described as a fusion of periods and genres. Their originals are inspired by their various interests: bluegrass and Americana, Renaissance and Medieval history, astrophysics and science, some rock, jazz, Bach sneaks in sometimes, and Django Rinehardt and Dezi Arnez. And her lyrics frequently are underpinned with leadings of the spirit, and metaphors.

You Used to Be King, (c) Matthews/Saunders from the Convivium CD
Some of our Silent Lion Renaissance gigs took us afar; here in Laconia, New Hampshire we were performing for The Phoenix Roost Medieval Tavern. Their Cream of Sorrel Soup was amazing!!!
We Hide Our Secrets Well, (c)B. Matthews-Saunders, from Convivium
Silent Lion is never fierce when visiting with our Alpaca friends at the Great Lakes Medieval Faire.
The Gamer’s Song, (c) B. Matthews/J. Saunders,from the Silent Lion CD
With the Chateau Frontenac in the background, Barbiel takes a break from work.
Pub sing at the Great Lakes Medieval Faire the first year Silent Lion was performing there.
I Will Lead You Home, (c), B. Matthews/J. Saunders, from the Silent Lion CD

Barbiel is back doing art more now, as well. During the years she was performing music , she was still illustrating and designing book covers for her dad’s novels and short stories and other projects, and rediscovering her “artsight”.

These Things Are Simple, )c) B. Matthews/ J. Saunders, from Ye Travelers of Time CD.
Well, the more one learns, the more one learns others have learned more. So it is with the 13th century Physicians of Myddfai, in South Wales, the inspiration of this song. This physician father and his two sons wrote their herbal knowledge down just so we might in this 21st century glean from it lyrics for a song. So it has a little sonic nuance from Nashville. I don’t think they’d object. Meanwhile, in my garden physic, my humble herbal paradise, I have lavendula augustafolia, salvia officionalis, lemon balm, dill, chives, basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, cilantro, and rosemary. Self-heal grows freely in several patches, as does comfrey. As far as bark of willow goes, I keep aspirin in the cupboard.
Into the Medieval World, (c) B. Matthews/John Saunders

So here we are, stopped off in the woods, waiting for our ride into the Medieval World. Why are they always late?

Into the Medieval World, (c) B. Matthews-Saunders

Below are included some of her paintings and drawings.

Winter’s Guardians, 20″ x 24″, oil on canvas. 2008
The Riddle, pencil on paper, 22×28. You can get a glimpse of the song that I was writing at the same time I was doing the drawing.
The Riddle, (c) Matthews, on the Satellite to Reason CD

The Battered Chalice, 22″ x 28″, pencil on paper. 1990. This drawing exhibited up in Montreal, QC in an international art competition
Days of Shadows, (c) Matthews/Saunders. On the Silent Lion CD
Travelers of Time, 22″ x 28″, oil on canvas, 2020
Mabinogion , (c) B. Matthews . On the Satellite to Reason CD
The former owners of Ravenwood commissioned Barbiel to paint the six panels of their Rood Screen. The two outside panels are of a rampant Unicorn and a rampant Lion, and the four inside panels are medieval representations of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
Each panel had lyrics of a medieval song painted in below. The Autumn panel shows a bit of Tournion, a version of which you can hear on our Ye Travelers of Time CD.
Tournion, trad. French. On the Ye Travelers of Time CD

Much more of Barbiel’s art can be found at