In advance of the new choir term, which starts on Wednesday 28 September (in person) and Monday 3 October (online) we thought this was the perfect time to learn more about Heather Macleod our esteemed choir leader …
When did you first realise you wanted to be a singer?
I vividly remember LOVING singing along alternately to Queen’s A Night at the Opera and the Beatles, aged 6, operating the record player on my own, in my element in the living room in Stornoway. I remember my Dad picking up Queen from Maciver & Dart record shop! I don’t know if at that point equated that with that I wanted to ‘be a singer’ but I certainly loved the range of music and moods on both those albums and knew them both inside out and they remain to be very favourite albums.
Did you sing in a choir as a child – if so, where and what was it like?
Yup. The first was Stornoway Primary School choir. Apart from school concerts, the choir activity was mainly focussed on singing at the Mod, the competitive gaelic festival. You were strictly marked on your gaelic, your expression and your musicality. In hindsight, it was a great grounding to study song in such depth so young. Mostly, I loved singing harmonies and the camaraderie and we got a trip off the island to the National Mod in Oban, where we won a trophy!
What was your first singing job?
First outing, on stage solo, acapella, in gaelic, again at the Mod. Aged 9. Terrifying! First paid job – I think with Andy Gunn’s Truth Band in Belfast after very much enjoying lots of Aberdeen’s Blues Jam scene during (and maybe detrimental to) my time at Art School in Aberdeen.
What inspired you to start the Soundhouse Choir?
As well as working with The Bevvy Sisters, teaching was edging into my time more and more, and I loved it more and more. It feels like a very honest trade, and a very healthy occupation in terms of substance and worth. I’d been running choirs for various groups up until then but was looking for something a bit free-er musically and knowing that The Soundhouse Organisation had an educational remit to their charitable terms, well, it seemed like an obvious and natural place to start! It has been and still is, an amazing thing to be part of.
If you could pick one stand out moment from the past 6 years of running the choir, what would it be?
There have been so many but as I have to choose one, it would have to be Govan Square for COP26 with the giant puppets STORM and Little AMAL, the schoolchildren, the streetbands and the flashmob audience, in the sunshine, in November! The energy that day – in the context of the small blessed window that opened up for us to express how we felt about something so important to us all, after being so remote from each other for two years – was overwhelming, emotional and so huge in terms of heart that it made it completely unforgettable. It took quite some getting over and had the effect of seemingly trivialising everything else we could potentially ever do again! Of course, this does not prove true but it really was an immensely powerful experience.
The Soundhouse Choir is seeking new singers both in person and online. In person sessions start on Wednesday 28 September with a free taster session that day, and the online choir starts Monday 3 October.