Weel duin tae Natalie Chalmers wha hae bin nominatit in Scots Performer o the Year sponsored by Tracs in the Scots Language Awards. Vote now!
The Scots Language Awards are in the Johstone Toon Ha, Johnstone on 16th September at 7pm. Tickets fir the ceremony are available tae buy here: https://handsup.link/SLA-BuyTickets.
We askit Natalie Chalmers o Natalie Chalmers thae speirins.
Tell us aboot yersel or yer ootfit.
I’m a singer o the traditional ballads and bothy ballads, entering my first competition fan I was jist 7year auld, at the Buchan Heritage Society in Strichen, jist bain the road fae far I grew up in the Broch (Fraserburgh) in the North-East o Scotland – the hairt of bothy ballad country! As I ventured further afield to concerts and TMSA competitions, I seen foun’ mysel’ surrounded by some of the great tradition bearers like Geordie Murison, Eric Simpson, Gordon Easton and Tam Reid (to name just a twa, three). Wi’ their help and encouragement, I hid a gran’ time singing, and seen added Doric verse to the repertoire, and then storytelling ina, fan I got in tow wi’ some of the greats like Stanley Robertson, Sheila Stewart and Jess Smith.
I was afa, afa lucky to have gran’ singing tuition fae Elizabeth Stewart, then fae Christine Kydd and Mick West when I went to the National Centre of Excellence on Traditional Music at Plockton for a year or twa.
Noo’adays, I’m bidin in Glesgae far I work as a Chartered Quantity Surveyor, but in my spare time, I like naething better than takin pairt at a’ the festivals and concerts I grew up gan til, and faur I’ve made sae many life lang freens, as weel as gain further afield tae the likes o’ Glastonbury and Cambridge Folk Festivals, faur I hae the best time sharing oor sangs and stories. I’m also passionate aboot sharing and keeping the traditions of the North-East gaan, and try to dae my bit by bein’ an active member of the TMSA (Aiberdeen branch) faur wi dae aa we can wi’ a fair puckle gran’ initiatives like working wi bairns at the smashing’ SC&T Youth and co-hosting “Trad Time with the TMSA” on Keith Community Radio.
Whit wis it got ye involvit wi the Scots leid?
Weel apart fae growing’ up in the Broch faur Doric’s ‘wer natural tongue, I started singing by chance! My sister, Gillian’s a piper, and being a bit aulder than me, I was trailed aroon the Heelan Games and competitions wi’ her. My mither seen got scaunered o me girnin, and haein’ tae spen’ a fortune trying tae keep my quiet at bottle stalls, so she entered my fir i kids races at the Games, and gaared me learn a bothy ballad for that first competition at Strichen…..turned oot I liked singing mare than runnin…..and the rest’s history!
Why dae ye feel it is important tae use Scots in everyday life?
Haein’ mair or less stumbled into sic a strong tradition and culture, the pleasure and opportunities I’ve had from it, the amazin folk I’ve met and pals throu’ it, I’m passionate about daein fit I can tae help others learn aboot, and enjoy, their Scots traditions and culture.
I get fae my singing, storytelling & verse is the best stress reliever ever, and gies me so much enjoyment – I want abody tae hae the chance tae share this, whether by takin pairt or listening. Fan folk hear ma speakin Doric or fin oot aboot my singing, it’s the greatest conversation starter ever- I’d gang as far as tae say, it’s even helped me get maist of my jobs as every employer has speered ma aboot it on my CV, and newsin’ aboot it fairly brakes the ice. It’s a fair bonus fan it distracts a the mannies I work wi in construction fae speakin non-stop about fitba, golf an Love Island!
Dae ye hae a favourite Scots phrase or saying?
Oh me, that’s a hard een…there’s ower mony in Doric that jist get richt tae the p’int but up there has tae be the likes o’ Ian Middleton’s “I’m fair forfochan wi’ frustration…” in his poem the Twa Budgies.
Is there a Scots speaker who inspires you?
There’s sae mony of them fae the late poet Ian Middleton, & all the singers and storytellers I’ve mentioned, and mony mare besides, but richt noo I’d hae tae gie a special mention tae the late Robbie Shepherd fa did so much tae promote oor tongue and wir culture. Best kint maybe as a radio presenter and for he’s column in the P&J, but for me he’ll aye be the wee, auld mannie at Strichen festival fa encouraged me fae my very first time at 7yr auld, aye tellin’ me tae “haud ‘er gyan!”
Do you hear Scots spoken regularly in your local area? Have you noticed any changes over time?
Weel, Doric’s oor everyday language spoken by mair or less abody at hame, in Aiberdeenshire, faur I come fae, though even ‘ere there’s a fair variation atween different areas, an fishin or fairmin fowk.
There was a lang time though, fan ye werena allowed tae spik it at a school. Noo, slowly bit surely, the schools seem tae be starting’ tae wakin up tae the importance o’ keepin oor tradtions & culture alive. There’s still a lot of work tae be daen though, but we can a’ help by daein wir bit throu’ a the great initiatives and bodies we have gaun jist noo – folk like ma’sel working with the TMSA, the SC&T Youth and mony mair…nae least, of course, being Hands Up for Trad and the Scots Language Awards!
Ony particlar career heighlichts
Richt noo, I’m fair chuffed and verra grateful tae hae been nominated for Scots Performer of the Year at the Scots Language Awards, and nominated ina in the Scots Project of the Year, as co- host of “Trad Time with the TMSA” on KCR radio.
Then there’s the moments ye aye mine, like takin’ the Alford Cattle Show tae Celtic Connections wi’ the music school and being a finalist at the Bothy Ballad Championships in Elgin. And it was an honour to be asked to co-host the Celtic Connections’ House o’Sang, with Scott Gardiner and Amy Lord, when Doris Rougvie retired.
Bit sometimes it’s the wee things that really stick wee ye, like the wee quinie faa heard me, & ma pal Pauline Cordiner, singing Billy Connelly’s Welly Boot sang at Glastonbury, sung it non stop a’year, and couldnae wait tae hear it again the followin’ year!
Wha’s yer plans fir the days aheid?
I’ll keep enjoying’, learnin’ and sharin ma sangs and stories, working with the TMSA and sic like, daein fitever I can tae tae pass oor langauge and culture on tae mair folk and, especially, the next generation o’ bairns. There’s nae much can beat the feeling, a arriving it Glastonbury ivery year tae perform daily for bairns in the Kidz Field and in the Green Futures Field.
In short, I’ll list jist dae fit I was telt a those years ago, and “haud er gyan!”
The Scots Language Awards are in the Johnstone Toon Ha, Johnstone on 16th September at 7pm. Tickets are available to buy here: https://handsup.link/SLA-BuyTickets There wull be some grand entertainmint oan the nicht tae, includin a recital fae Renfrewshire’s poet laureate Shaun Moore,wha wis appointit as the region’s Tannahill Makar last year. talks fae weel regairdit Scots scrievers Cat Cochrane an Shane Strachan, alang wi musical performances fae celebratit multi-instumentalist brithers Euan and Lewis McLaughlin, an sangster Iona Fyfe.
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