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Kenneth McKellar - Scotland's Greatest Tenor

Anne Lorne Gillies leads this celebration of Scottish tenor Kenneth McKellar, whose career spanned fifty years and saw him rise to international fame.

Anne Lorne Gillies leads this celebration of arguably Scotland's greatest tenor - Kenneth McKellar.
McKellar's career, which spanned 50 years, saw him rise to be a household name in Scotland and beyond, but behind the public persona was a quiet man who regularly spurned personal honours and accolades.

Although McKellar never sung in Gaelic, through singing he had an affinity with the language and was always meticulous about ensuring any Gaelic words in his songs were pronounced perfectly, reflecting his love and affection for his native country and all that it was.

Humour was also a big part of McKellar's life and a script he wrote was used in a Monty Python sketch, indeed he became the only person outside the Monty Python team to have a sketch performed by them. He wrote many popular comedy songs like 'The Midges' and formed a comedy duo with Johnny Beattie.

The definitive interpreter of the songs of Robert Burns, McKellar also composed 'Royal Mile', the song which opened the 1986 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games.

When his voice began to falter with age, he bowed out gracefully from his singing career to become an acclaimed arranger.

Bill Innes, who presented Radio nan GĂ idheal's opera music show, Abair Aria, was a big fan, and doesn't think Scotland recognised his vocal talents. Indeed McKellar was arguably a bigger star, and some would say more appreciated in countries such as Canada and Australia.

1 hour


Role Contributor
Presenter Anne Lorne Gillies