Young Trad Finalist: Alistair Ogilvy

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Alistair Ogilvy

Watch singer Alistair Ogilvy perform at the Young Trad Musician of the Year final 2011.

Age: 24

Hails from: Strathblane

Instrument: Voice


What do you love and what do you hate about your instrument?

I love everything about singing - being able to express a story, emotions, history and reality through a song is a special thing and being able to touch and connect with an audience creates a tremendous buzz. I love the reality of traditional music, the music of the people.

Another special thing about singing is when other singers and musicians join in with you in different harmonies, off the cuff with no practice. There's been many a time where the music and the harmonies flow so beautifully - it produces such an extraordinary feeling within you and you can also feel it with the people you're playing/singing with, it's like a circle of energy.

I don't hate anything about singing.

What keeps you in practising while you could be out having a laugh?

The thing with traditional music is that everyone who does it enjoys it and it's what they're all about as a person, it's a huge part of one's self. A lot of the time when musicians practise, whether it be a song that you have just learnt or an old favourite, it is at music sessions. And that's us 'having a laugh', sharing songs and tunes with friends. I think I can vouch for all traditional musicians that they enjoy practising their craft. And we always find time for having a laugh. And a lot of the time the two mix.

Has anyone in particular inspired you as a musician?

There are far too many musicians who have inspired me to mention, although people like Jim Reid, Sheila Stewart, Gordeanna McCulloch, Anne Neilson, Barbara Dymock, Karen Matheson, Jim Malcolm and Rod Paterson have all inspired me with their musicianship and songs. When a musician emotionally touches you with a song or tune you automatically create a bond and admiration for what they do. I was told by a well-known Scots singer, "the sang's the thing".

What music do you listen to when you're not practising (not necessarily folk music!)

I have to say my mp3 player is full to the gunwales with folk music of different kinds, ranging from unaccompanied traditional singing from the 50s/60s to modern day folk musicians like Box Club and Capercaillie. Traditional music is my life! Although as a musician I listen to lots of different genres of music, artists like Del Amitri, Bob Dylan and many other different singers/groups. I think it is necessary as a musician to open your ears for inspiration which can influence your style and songs in a good way. I am also a pianist and listen to a lot of piano music like contemporary pianist Einaudi. I like all genres as long as it's good stuff and the artists are passionate about what they do. I'm always on the lookout for new songs to learn so in a way I am forever practicing, but I love it.

Is there a piece of music that you always like to play/sing and why?

I have to say my ultimate favourite song to sing is the rather hauntingly sad song called 'Land O the Leal', written by Lady Nairne. The melody is an old air called 'Hey, tuttie, tattie'. Leal means faithful - "land of the faithful". The song describes a man on his death-bed, saying a last farewell to his wife Jean. I am a bit of a sucker for sad songs, and the sentiment behind this one really gets me every time. Anyone who has lost a loved one can relate to this song, it's just a very real emotion that everyone goes through at some point in their lives. My favourite line is "Noo dry your glistening e'e, my soul langs tae be free Jean, and angels wait on me, in the Land o Leal".


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