Though she was born in Rutherglen, it was growing up around the traditions of the North-East of Scotland is what gave rise to Liz Clark’s passion for traditional music. As a young girl she’d go down to the Kippering sheds and hear the woman singing in Doric. She loved it, and the women singing enjoyed teaching the songs to her- as a child she was completely oblivious to all of the double entendre!Later as a teenager, she met the Stewarts of Blair, and received another education in their stories and songs, around the campfires at the berry fields in Blairgowrie. When she was around fifteen the first Blairgowrie festival took place, and she again was hooked. Not just on the tradition- that had already been decided, but also on festivals and live music.
Still in her teens, the family moved back to Glasgow. By this point, she’d left school and was out at work, just as the folk revival was starting to get in to full swing.
Regularly attending the Glasgow Folk Club, and Danny Kyle’s Attic Folk Club in Paisley she was soon in the thick of the scene. Through these and “great spiritual psychiatric ward” that was The Scotia Bar, she met the characters of the day, including Danny Kyle and Billy Connolly. As she puts it, “my fate was sealed as a folkie”.
Liz though, could never be persuaded to be on the stage, she was the behind the scenes person. In these early days it was at the folk clubs- doing the door, selling the pies and doing the raffle. This somewhat understates her organisational skills though. She quickly became relied upon by many, becoming the “go-to” people for those looking for help and advice starting up and running folk festivals and events across Scotland.
Clark has always been a staunch Supporter of The Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland. She began organising the singing competitions at festivals and events, before becoming the director of the national office, as well as of the Glasgow branch. Now retired, the organisation awarded her an honorary membership for her contributions.
Her involvement as producer and co-ordinator of the Danny Kyle Open Stage at Celtic Connections is legendary. Over the years, there has been hundreds of gigs gigs, showcasing thousands of performers from across the world. Clark is truly passionate about creating a platform for emerging artists, and so many have benefited from the exposure which the Danny Kyle stage has given them.
When Celtic Music Radio started broadcasting the open stage, they recognised Liz as a natural host, and persuaded her to start presenting shows on the station. Now, having just moved in to their new office, Liz is right in the thick of it, broadcasting shows throughout the year and unsurprisingly, playing a vital role in the running of the station.
She’s devoted to giving a foot in the door to new artists, playing them to a global audience and helping to get their careers underway. As well as presenting from the studio, she travels to festivals across the globe to broadcast performances- she’s not missed the Tønder festival in Denmark for a decade!
Much of what she’s done over the years has relied heavily on volunteers, who she’s quick to praise: “The amount people put in for nothing- the amount they bring for the country is phenomenal. For some reason theres a stigma that if you don’t get paid you’re not worth much”. Often a volunteer herself, there’s no doubt that she’s spent her life proving this stigma wrong.