50 over 50 interviewees –Christine Kydd – Traditional singer

  1. Tell us more about yourself. What do you do and how long you’ve been working in this industry?

I’m a traditional singer. I sing unaccompanied ballads, songs I’ve written, and folk songs. I’ve studied Voice at RCSSD and had forays into jazz. I’m from Scotland so Scots songs are really my specialty. I also speak a few European languages and I love listening to Americana, Eastern European singing and anything a bit unusual. During my career I’ve toured around the USA, Canada, Russia, and all over Europe. I have made some brilliant friendships through my work.

I started professionally in the mid ‘80s, but I’ve been singing since I was in primary school. I love theatre and have performed as a singer in some professional shows including a big scale production in The Tramway in Glasgow, and with Dundee Rep and Communicado Theatre. I’ve also recorded quite a few CDs. 

In 2018 I entered the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame. This year I brought out a new CD album Shift & Change on Greentrax, which has had **** reviews. And I’ve been nominated twice for Scots Singer of the Year. 

As well as being a performer I’m a musician working in the community. I have set up many choirs. I run masterclasses and workshops, and I have a following of lovely choir singers and audience members. I work with all ages and kinds of projects and I’m currently specialising in working with people living with dementia. 

  1. Who did you want to be when you were a kid?

At the age of 10 I decided I wanted to be a singer. I wanted it to be my job. My pals and I would meet every week, we would play music and make song arrangements. I remember thinking back then this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to be creative.

  1. What was your ‘punch in the stomach’ or when did you first realise that this is going to become your career?

When I started working with Janet Russell in the ‘80s in folk clubs and festivals. We had been going to folk clubs and concerts together and our first radio show was on BBC Folk On 2. We went to Bush House in London. It was really exciting for us!

  1. What were the 3 biggest obstacles in pursuit of your career?When Janet and I stopped working together I had to regroup. I needed to work out what I wanted and what I was doing. The combination of naivety, and then a search for confidence in what I could do on my own and with other people made the journey interesting and challenging.
  2. Where do you find inspiration?

Everywhere! On the streets, reading, listening to people, observing, and taking part in activities. My work is inspired by the people who went before like the Scottish Travellers and older folk singers. I’m also inspired by the wealth of resources about Scots song, the live performance of others and my own history of listening to a lot of diverse music (my brother used to bring vinyl records home), and music my pals and I shared and listened to.

  1. What challenges do you face in this industry as a ‘50+ artist’?

Not being a “new thing”. My own sense of where I sit in the scheme of things, and the practical and admin requirements of even the simplest concert bookings.

  1. What advice would you give someone who is about to start their career but is being told that it’s ‘too late’?

If you feel and know it’s something you should be doing, then why not? I think we can all be cautious, but maybe a calculated risk is worth exploring. Be practical, but also know how much you want or don’t want to adventure. You have something unique to offer and if you don’t try you’ll never know how it all turns out! I don’t think age should come into play, but I know that we sometimes have that particular narrative running in the background.

  1. Do you have any idols and if so, who and why?

For all sorts of different reasons – inspirers rather than idols – some of them are ‘ordinary’ folks who are not famous, but wise and lovely. I love Joni Mitchell and Carole King, James Taylor and I love the singing of a wealth of folk singers I’ve heard. I don’t really like the word idol. For me other artists are more like ‘influencers.’ I think every artiste worth their sort is admirable but the word ‘idol’ is too strong.

  1. What’s your life motto?  

Follow your enthusiasm and don’t compare yourself to others.

  1. You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What colour would you be and why?

The multicoloured one. I’m curious about life and its diversity.

Catch Christine on the 1st of February at Celtic Connections international music festival, Glasgow. Don’t miss a chance to hear her present her latest album Shift & Change. For more information please visit Celtic Connections. If you’d like to know more about Christine’s work please visit www.christinekydd.com.