Christine’s Kydd’s presence at any gathering of singers and musicians is a guarantee of fun, laughter and, of course, great singing. Her work as a singer, choir director, voice coach, teacher, folklorist and animateur covers an enormous range of experience and has taken her all over the world.
Christine started performing at the age of 11 with friends, playing everywhere from church socials to old people’s homes, with three chords on the guitar and yoghurt pots for percussion. Later, an immersion in her older brother’s record collection, particularly Joni Mitchell’s early albums, led to Christine teaching herself the art of harmony as she sang along.
A visit to Edinburgh folk club introduced Christine to unaccompanied singing for the first time. The idea that you could simply stand up and sing a traditional song without the prop of a guitar was a revelation which set the course of her artistic life.
Settling in Edinburgh in the 1980s Christine soon became a part of a thriving scene where she worked with musicians who were eventually to coalesce into bands such as Shooglenifty, Jock Tamson’s Bairns and the Easy Club, the Poozies. Musicians and singers met regularly to play and exchange ideas. It was in this creative world that Christine met Janet Russell with whom she went on to form a singing partnership which brought fresh ideas, harmonic innovation and, importantly, a female perspective to what was still at that time a male-dominated world. The duo recorded and toured extensively, including in the US, before going into abeyance when Janet moved down to England.
Christine also made the move south, in her case to study voice and vocal coaching at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, She also taught voice at major college Guildford School of Acting before returning to Scotland to share the skills she had acquired, using theatre vocal technique to inform interpretation of traditional song while retaining the voice’s natural and individual qualities. She taught at the National Centre for Excellence in Traditional Music at Plockton for a decade, and is a freelance tutor at UHI. During the course of her work in education and the community, she has influenced many a young and emerging singer and folk group to form and thrive.
Songmaking in schools saw her setting up her own initiative, Ceilidhmakers. With Ewan McVicar Christine has worked in schools and community settings in every nook of Scotland, writing songs, recording and making shows, such as The Gallant Sixteen, the story of the Fenwick Weavers, pioneers of the Co-operative Movement in Scotland. People, placemaking and celebration are central to her work.
A great part of her work, however, has been in encouraging others to sing. She was an original member of the Natural Voice Network, out of which has grown a myriad of community choirs. Developing choirs such as Sangstream in Edinburgh, Angus Folk and Just Singing in Dunkeld, she introduced Scots and folk song to a whole new participating community.
Christine’s singing has been heard to great effect in a number of projects: in theatre work with Gerry Mulgrew (Communicado) and Dundee Rep, with vocal duos and trios such as Chantan and Sinsheen, and on the solo albums she recorded for Fellside and Culburnie, and has attracted comment from many, including Joseph from Ladysmith Black Mamabazo when supporting them and Emmylou (yes that one!) on meeting in Sandy Bell’s pub.
The scope of Christine’s influence over many aspects of the folk community in Scotland continues. She graduated in 2014 with an M.Litt in Ethnology and Folklore from the University of Aberdeen’s Elphinstone Institute and is currently putting the finishing touches to a new solo album due for release in 2019.