Hands Up for Trad exists to promote Scottish traditional music and culture through education, information and advocacy. Our core purpose is to promote and shine the spotlight on the diversity of talent in Scotland. Ideally there would be no place for a list promoting the work of women but until true equity and equality exist in our community, we will continue to seek opportunities like International Women’s Day to platform the work, voices and role of women in Scottish music and culture
Launched as part of International Women’s Day celebrations, Hands Up for Trad’s Women in Music and Culture list has been announced to celebrate just some of the women working in Scotland in 2023. We have chosen 15 women who have and are contributing towards Scotland’s rich cultural landscape. Hands Up for Trad aims to recognise the wealth of talent and diversity they all bring through their work.
Simon Thoumire – Creative Director at Hands Up for Trad says “ ….these 15 women of course are just a snapshot of all the many women doing amazing work in our sector but in a world of fast paced and transient news, we wanted to provide platform, where these women can talk about their work and ambitions for the future as we all re-emerge from challenging times….”
Click on the links below to find out more.
Equally at home as accompanist or melody player, Anna Massie is one of Scotland’s foremost guitarists. Renowned for her work with Blazin’ Fiddles, her reputation as a producer, presenter and musical director grows with each passing project. She is the presenter of BBC Radio Scotland’s flagship traditional music programme Travelling Folk.
Edinburgh-based researcher, writer, and translator working in Scots, Gaelic, Danish, and German. Specialising in Scots original research, writing, translation, proofreading, style guide and glossary development, talks, consultancy. Areas of special interest include Scottish history and archaeology, politics, linguistics, literature, and LGBT history.
A veteran of the folk world, Christine grew up musically in the vibrant Edinburgh scene. Her career has offered her great variety, where she has not only worked solo, but with the finest of players (musicians who now feature in top groups including Jock Tamson’s Bairns, Blazin’ Fiddles, Shooglenifty) and Janet Russell. In 2018 she was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame, with Shift & Change released to excellent all-star reviews, on the Greentrax label in 2019.
Fiona is a former Fèis Rois participant who returned home to Ross-shire to take up the post of Chief Executive of Fèis Rois in April 2009. Fiona graduated MA (Hons) Celtic Studies from the University of Edinburgh before going onto build a career in the arts in Scotland. Recognising her contribution to culture and creativity in the Highlands, Fiona was made an Honorary Fellow of the University of the Highlands and Islands in 2022. Named in the 2018 BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour Power List, which recognised the top 40 most successful women having an impact on the music we are all listening to, and inducted by the Saltire Society as one of ten Outstanding Women in Scotland in 2019.
Hannah started out working for Glasgow Life, managing the Celtic Connections press office and media campaign, and campaigns for Glasgow Music, Glasgow Arts and Glasgow Sport. In 2017, she created Hannah Innes Communications, working with festivals, musicians, artists and theatre groups across Scotland, and in 2020 joined forces with Corrie Campbell to create Innes Campbell Communications – one of Scotland’s biggest PR firms.
Jane-Ann started their career in television in the early 1990s and her first job was as Muriel Gray’s assistant at her first production company Gallus Besom in Edinburgh. Jane-Ann and Douglas Robertson e set up The Soundhouse Organisation in 2013 and began promoting regular gigs in The Traverse Bar and have put on hundreds of acoustic acts since then. She has managed Shooglenifty and most recently their film Heading West: a story about a band called Shooglenifty.
Jenn Butterworth is one of the most notable folk guitarists in the UK acoustic music scene. She was awarded ‘Musician of the Year’ from the Scots Trad Music Awards, and as n excellent collaborator, she works with a range of high profile folk music projects, including Ross Ainslie and Ali Hutton’s SYMBIOSIS, award winning folk powerhouses Kinnaris Quintet and Treacherous Orchestra.
Josie’s original songs were receiving airtime on Radio 2 before she even left university, and by the time she had graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, audiences at festivals all over the world, from festival stages in Australia to basements in Glasgow, had come to recognise her as a vital figure within Scottish folk music. The intervening years have led her to become an expert in crafting heart-warming songs. Winner of 2017’s Radio 2 Young Folk Award, Josie’s versatility was showcased and praised in her New Voices composition, which was commissioned by Celtic Connections in 2021.
Crowned Traditional Singer of the Year & Traditional Dance Champion at the 2015 Pan Celtic Festival, Joy Dunlop’s singing career is the result of a life–long fascination with Scotland’s traditional music. Through her singing, she showcases Gaelic music and song in a contemporary way that always remains true to its roots. A popular television & radio presenter, Joy forecasts the weather on both BBC Scotland & BBC ALBA and co-presents the BBC Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year competition.
Karine Polwart is a multi-award winning Scottish songwriter and musician, as well as theatre-maker, storyteller, spoken-word performer and author. Her songs combine folk influences and myth with themes as diverse as Donald Trump’s corporate megalomania, Charles Darwin’s family life and the complexities of modern parenthood. She sings traditional songs too and writes to commission for film, theatre, animation and thematic collaborative projects. Karine is seven-times winner at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, including three times for Best Original Song.
Folklorist, singer and writer Margaret Bennett is from the Isle of Skye and comes from a long line of traditional singers and pipers. Widely regarded as “Scotland’s foremost folklorist” she is known to “wear her scholarship lightly,”. Margaret is prize-winning author with 15 books to her credit, her awards include The Michaelis Ratcliffe Prize for Folklore (1991), the Master Music Maker Award “(USA, 1998) in celebration of a lifetime of musicianship and teaching”, and most recently the 2022 Iona and Peter Opie Prize from the American Folklore Society.
Sheila Sapkota is the founder, organiser & a teacher of Riddell Fiddles in the Scottish borders. She works tirelessly promoting fiddle groups, small bands, small trips, large trips and lots of fun learning situations for kids and adults alike. She is a very enthusiastic and motivational leader who has been very successful at finding funding from places some of us never thought of and for more unusual projects such as the recent very successful Cranston Fiddle show.
Shona MacLennan, originally from Spean Bridge, is the Ceannard (CEO) of Bòrd na Gàidhlig and has been in post for over 4 years. During that time, the Bòrd developed the third National Gaelic Language Plan (2018-23) which was launched in March 2018 by Depute First Minister, John Swinney. In addition, the Bòrd published their corporate plan for 18-23 which sets out how the Bòrd will contribute to achieving the aims in the National Plan. Shona brings to the Bòrd over 20 years’ experience in business and community development within the Highlands and Islands. She is a Gaelic learner from University of Edinburgh and previously worked at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig as Director of Business and Organisational Development.
Su-a Lee is one of Scotland’s most versatile, adventurous and charismatic cellists. Su-a works extensively within the UK classical and folk music scenes and is a founding member of the daring and highly innovative Mr. McFall’s Chamber. She is a long-standing member of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra where she remains as Assistant Principal Cello. Su-a recently released her debut solo album – Dialogues where Su-a collaborates in a series of duos with 15 prolific musicians from Scotland and abroad.
Subrina is an artiste steeped in the sounds and rhythms of her Jamaican culture sharing her music with the world. A vibrant and captivating performer with lyrics and music that are refreshing and uplifting and fuses together elements of her rich cultural and musical heritage using Reggae, Nyabinghi and other musical styles from the global African Diaspora,