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Sunday Morning With Cathy Macdonald

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Cathy MacDonald Cathy MacDonald | 16:27 UK time, Friday, 8 April 2011

I've always been fascinated by other minority cultures - their practices and their traditions, and this week on Sunday Morning With me, Cathy Macdonald, I was doubly delighted to welcome, possibly the greatest exponent of the travelling communities unique history and culture, Sheila Stewart to spend the first hour of the programme with me. Sheila is the last in the line of the Stewarts of Blair, a family of travellers who've played a key role in preserving the ancient musical and oral traditions of Scotland.

In her biography "A Traveller's Life" she draws on her natural story-telling skills to give us a glimpse of an often harsh, but happy life, of prejudices and misconceptions, of misunderstandings and injustices - but not once does she dwell on the negative aspects of travelling life.

She sang in the studio with the ease of a seasoned performer, which she is, entertaining both Royalty and heads of state - but not for her the formality of standing round a microphone - not that she required any technical support - her voice filled the studio all on its own. She happily stayed in her seat, because, as she said " this is what I'm used to, it's how we would sing round the camp fire" She told me about the "conyach"a way of drawing up the spirt from within you and putting it into each song or story - it was mesmerizing.

And that's just the first hour of the new look Sunday Morning With format - we're also chatting to the stars of An Island Parish, and getting a sneak preview of the newly restored St Andrews Cathedral in Glasgow which opens on Monday. There's a lively debate on the banning of the Muslim veil - the niqab - which France brings into effect next week, and we'll hear about the success of a project to tackle poverty in one of Glasgows most deprived communities. And Richard Holloway inspires with his recollections of a very special women who was known as The Angel of the Gorbals.

Don't forget that I'd love to hear from you - your inspirational songs and stories, and I'll give them a mention in next weeks show. Happy listening.

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