WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO …
IHAVE sung for as long as I can remember – to myself, to my pets and now in public. I was a shy child. Early report cards always mentioned that I must try to talk more, not an accusation levelled at me these days.
I come from a long line of musicians and everyone was expected to “do a turn” at parties: I avoided this at all costs. A flautist from the age of nine, I didn’t relish the prospect of playing in front of people, although I did like making up Christmas programmes where my sister and I were on the bill together. Songs from the musical South Pacific were particular favourites. As well as music I have always loved English and in secondary school I decided I wanted to read the news. Journalism was an obvious choice but not perhaps television journalism. In this I surprised even myself. I left Glasgow University with an MA in English language and literature and got a job at STV fairly quickly. I took a copy of The Herald to the interview and perused it while waiting, thinking this would impress them. Only later did I discover I had newsprint smeared over my face the whole time, including during my tour around the newsroom. Still, I got the job. I spent six years at STV, starting at the bottom and going on to present and report for Scotland Today as well as the social affairs, health and lifestyle series Scottish Action. However, I achieved my goal only to find I wasn’t happy. I was always trying to behave the way I thought a newshound should. Television is, of course, a visual medium, and I became obsessed with my weight, my hair, all the wrong things.
All the same, deciding to leave STV wasn’t easy. I went to work for Deafblind Scotland, handling the charity’s PR. Although I enjoyed it I knew I wasn’t there long term. So after two years I set up my own PR consultancy, which I still run today, and this gave me the freedom and flexibility to pursue my dream – becoming a singer-songwriter.
Although I was writing songs, I had little to say, which changed when my marriage broke down. Musical expression came naturally and the melodies and lyrics really began. Since then it’s been an interesting journey.
I sought out gigs in places I thought nobody else would want to play, like Barlinnie Prison, where I rehearsed and performed with the prisoners for the first half and brought on my own
band for the second. I love playing in the jail and hope to go back soon.
The other week I played the King Tut’s stage at C2C, the country music festival in the Clyde Auditorium. Seeing the huge US stars with their entourages was a sight to behold.
Tomorrow night I play a gig at King Tut’s at an event I created. Called Soul Food, you pay for your own ticket and buy another for someone who can’t afford it. Three charities will distribute tickets to the people they support – St Rollox Community Outreach, Glasgow City Mission and Glasgow Women’s Aid.