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Billy Kay's Sangsters

19th December 2018

Billy Kay celebrates the power of the Scots language through its most beautiful songs in the company of some of our finest traditional singers

Programme 1.   O Aw the Airts. 

BBC Radio Scotland   Wednesday December 19,  2018  at 13.32 rpt Dec 23 at 06.02 am

Programme 2.   Fae Burns tae Bothy Ballads

BBC Radio Scotland   Wednesday December 26, 2018  at 11.02  rpt Dec 30 at 06.02 am

In Sangsters Billy Kay celebrates the emotive power and beauty of Scots song in the company of some of the country’s finest traditional singers, who also discuss the importance they place on speaking Scots both for  their performance and interpretation of the songs. Billy explores the regional variations in Scots from Robyn Stapleton’s lilting Galloway Irish to the Doric of north east quines Shona Donaldson, Iona Fyfe and Christy Scott, and from John Morran’s braid Ayrshire tongue to the rich Angus dialect  of Steve Byrne and Chris Wright.

All of them illustrate their interviews with verses  of songs that show the wealth of their local tradition and how that has contributed to the great national tradition they all enhance. John Morran’s Garan Sang project in Muirkirk has unearthed fourteen fine songs relating  to that one village alone and he feels the result would be similar if every airt had someone to delve deeply into the local culture. John also sing with the band Deaf Shepherd and we’ll hear their version of one of the Muirkirk songs The Bonnie Lass o’ Wellwid Ha. Iona Fyfe and Shona Donaldson both hail from Huntly in Aberdeenshire, one of the song capitals of Scotland surrounded by a landscape which has produced songs ranging from historic muckle sangs  like Glenlogie to bothy ballads like Drumdelgie. Shona lives on Deeside with her husband  the fiddler Paul Anderson and both discuss the importance of the living Scots language in the area to the singing and fiddling traditions. Billy interviewed Iona in Glasgow along with Christy Scott from Buckie – two friends studying  music at the Royal Conservatoire in the city. Christy sings a song called Lady Onlie which was collected by Burns and is set on the shore of Buckie.  The role of collectors and publishers of songs like the north east’s Greig Duncan Folk Song Collection is discussed by Shona, while Chris Wright talks about a shop in Dundee called the Poet’s Box which published and sold thousands of songs as broadsheets, which then became part of the oral tradition!

Chris and Steve Byrne now take song projects into schools and reveal to the children songs which are in danger of going underground. Both also worked on the Kist o’ Riches/Tobar an Dualchais archive and Chris sings examples of songs he collected, like The Cauld Watter Well, which were set in what was rural Angus but is now part of the urban sprawl of Dundee. Steve sings with the folk band Malinky and the first programme ends with their version of one of the greatest Scots songs of the 20th century, The Wild Geese, with words by the poet Violet Jacob and tune by the late Jim Reid.

Robyn Stapleton from Stranraer appears in both programmes. In the first she sings local songs she grew up with like Bonnie Gallowa and The Gallowa Hills and enhances both with a poignant poem in Scots by Derek Ross called Dunbae Road, about an exile from Stranraer looking back on his life there. From local songs everywhere, we return at the end to Robert Burns and his huge contribution to making Scots song known around the world. We’ll hear John Morran from the heart of the Burns country discuss and sing his favourite Burns song, Yestreen I had a Pint o Wine, and we’ll end with Robyn singing the Scots song that has become an international anthem  Auld Lang Syne.  

Billy Kay   01382 542070    07760 337925 

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