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BELLE STEWART - "Queen Among the Heather" Greentrax CDTRAX9055
WILLIE SCOTT - "The Shepherd's Song Border Ballads" Greentrax CDTRAX9054

Neither of these singers set out to hold sway over audiences by performing from the centre of a theatre or concert hall stage. When this "greatness" was thrust upon them however they both had the reserves and resources to carry all before them. In smaller clubs or backroom sessions often the performer reverted to singer and longer and deeper material would unfold and with Belle Stewart things often got more colourful as well.

Belle Stewart died in September last year. She was born in 1906 into a travelling family in a "wee bow-tent" by the side of the river Tay a few miles from Blairgowrie. An account of her eventful life is currently being written, with a view to publication next year, by one of her daughters, Sheila Stewart. This selection contains big ballads, bothy songs, music hall, broadsides, the sentimental, the humorous and a couple of her own making. However, the thirteen tracks on "Queen Among the Heather" give us only a fleeting glimpse, a few brief moments with one of the last of the singers with true traditional connections.

Willie Scott was born in the Borders and spent most of his working life herding on those same rolling hills. His father and mother both sang, other members of the family played fiddle or accordion and his wife Frances, was also an accordion player and singer. The songs here mostly relate to country life, certainly the country that Willie Scott would have known. Fine songs they are too, sung at a regular even pace, this selection includes, "The Lads That Were Reared Amang Heather", "The Dowie Dens of Yarrow", "The Shepherd's Song", "Herd Laddie O' the Glen" and "The Kielder Hunt".

Peter Fairbairn

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This album was reviewed in Issue 30 of The Living Tradition magazine.