Scottish Songs and Groups
Scottish musical artists covered a wide range
of themes from
traditional Scottish through popular and country and western. The Scottish
breadth of musical talent brought us joy, sadness, history and just plain
nonsense. From the traditional Kilt and Heather troubadours like Harry Lauder to
the “Bagrock” musicians on the circuit today, these artists have inspired Scots
and others throughout the years.
We’d like to suggest some YouTube examples
you might like to
look over. The Scottish American Society does not have copyright rights to the
songs featured, but have provided these links that are believed to be in the
public domain. If you can suggest some others, let us know!
The Alexander Brothers
Tom and Jack Alexander were
Cambusneath near Wishaw in 1935. Before pursuing a musical career they were
house painters. As amateur performers they spent most of their spare time
performing for elderly people in hospitals and for various charitable
institutions in and around their hometown. In the spring of 1958, they entered
a talent contest they easily won and went on to a professional career that
spanned fifty five years. In recognition of their contributions to the world of
music, they received MBEs from the Queen in the 2005 New
Year Honours List.
Born in Glasgow,
in 1933 and in early childhood, he loved imitating people and amazed his
parents with impersonations of famous singers and actors. He had aspirations of
becoming a veterinary surgeon, before deciding to train as an actor at the Royal Scottish
Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow.
A prolific lyricist, he penned words to many traditional Scottish tunes,
e.g. "Green Hills of Tyrol" (which
he called "A Scottish Soldier"), "The Black Bear"
("Tunes of Glory"), and "The Battle is Over"("The
Battle's O'er") etc. He wrote his first lyric at the age of 14 (to a tune
composed by his father) and called the song "My Hameland", which in
1969 (21 years later) became the title track of one of his most popular albums.
Robin Hall & Jimmie MacGregor
Robin Hall and Jimmie MacGregor are remembered as one of Scotland's most popular
They first teamed up in January 1959 after meeting in Vienna, where the two were given much
encouragement by Paul Robeson, who was playing at the same concert.
From 1961 to 1964, Robin and Jimmie appeared regularly on radio, and are
particularly remembered for the series Hullabaloo. They went on to
tour the world, record more than 20 albums, and appear on countless television
programs. Other series' that brought them great acclaim and recognition were The
White Heather Club, which they hosted for five years, and Out and
About with Robin and Jimmie. With superb harmonies, Hall and MacGregor's
large repertoire of songs, many of which they introduced during this period,
have gone on to become folk standards; and yet their contribution to the folk
scene has gone seemingly unnoticed in many circles.
saw the 42nd
Matt McGinn was
folk singer-songwriter, actor, author and poet. Born in Glasgow in the late 1920s. McGinn was a
prolific songwriter and is recognised as an influential figure in the British
folk music revival of the late fifties-early sixties.
McGinn joined the folk scene after winning a song contest with a song
entitled "The Foreman O'Rourke". He met Pete Seeger in 1961 when
Seeger was touring the British Isles. Seeger
championed McGinn's music in the United States and arranged for
McGinn to be part of a concert performance at Carnegie Hall, where McGinn met a
young Bob Dylan. His career in music began during the folk revival of the 1960s
but whilst others leaned towards traditional song, McGinn carved his own niche
as a humourist and playwright as well as a singer/songwriter. He was a prolific
songwriter, drawing on his experiences of Glasgow
life for much of his material.
Doon (the Miner’s Lullaby)
Dougie MacLean, is a Scottish singer-songwriter, composer,
multi-instrumentalist and record producer. Described by critic Craig Harris in AllMusic as
"one of Scotland's premier singer-songwriters", MacLean's most famous
pieces include "The Gael", the main theme to The Last of the
Mohicans (1992); and "Caledonia", from his first album. The
latter has been covered by numerous popular singers and groups, and called Scotland's
unofficial national anthem.
Runrig are a Scottish Celtic rock group formed in Skye, in 1973
the name 'The Run Rig Dance Band'. Since its inception, the band's line-up has
included songwriters Rory Macdonald and Calum Macdonald. The current line-up
also includes longtime members Malcolm Jones, Iain Bayne, and more recently, Bruce
Guthro, and Brian Hurren. To date, the band has released fourteen studio albums,
with a number of their songs sung in Scottish Gaelic.
Initially formed as a three-piece dance band, which played wedding
receptions, the trio's first performance took place at Kelvin Hall, in Glasgow.
Runrig's music is often described as a blend of folk and rock music, with
the band's lyrics often focusing upon locations, history, politics and people
that are unique to Scotland.
Songs also make references to agriculture and land conservation.
Capercaillie are a Scottish folk band, founded in the 1980s by
Shaw and fronted by Karen Matheson. Capercaillie performs traditional Gaelic
songs and tunes, as well as contemporary English language songs and tunes. The
group adapts traditional Gaelic music and traditional lyrics with modern
production techniques with instruments such as electric guitar or bass and
rarely synthesisers or drum machines. Originating from Argyll, a region of
the band is named after the Western Capercaillie, sometimes called a wood
grouse, a native Scottish bird.
For the Wheel to Turn
Average White Band (also AWB)
are a Scottish funk
and R&B band that had a series of soul and disco hits between 1974 and
1980. They have influenced others such as the Brand New Heavies, and been sampled
by various musicians including the Beastie Boys, TLC, The Beatnuts, Too Short, Ice
Cube, Eric B. & Rakim, Nas, and A Tribe Called Quest, as well as Arrested
Development – making them the fifteenth most sampled act in history.
As of 2016, forty years after their formation, they continue to perform.
Pick Up the Pieces