Mary Ann Kennedy

She was brought up in a Gaelic-speaking family in Glasgow – her father from the Isle of Tiree and mother, Kenna Campbell, one of the Campbell family of Greepe in the Isle of Skye, a family well-known as singers and pipers. She grew up in the south side of the city, in a multi-cultural community where two languages was the norm, whether it be Gaelic or Urdu. Her first memories are of music – hearing her mum and her sister and brother rehearsing in the front room after she'd gone to bed.

She trained intensively as a classical musician from the age of six, starting out on piano and later taking up the harp. In 1979, she was awarded one of the first places at the first state-funded specialist school in the UK – the Music School of Douglas Academy in Glasgow . The school was to form the model later on for the Centres of Excellence that now include a school for Traditional Music in Plockton, Ross-shire.

She went on to study as a pianist at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow and postgraduate research and training was at the Roy al Northern College of Music in Manchester, where she was the first harpist in the college's history to be awarded its highest performance diploma. Her thesis however was a study of Gaelic ‘mouth-music' or ‘puirt-a-beul', a speciality of her mother's family.

Ode to the Big Yin