Barbara Dickson

January 8, 2021


We are honoured to welcome Scottish singer and actress, Barbara Dickson OBE, to our interview series.

In her recording career, Barbara Dickson has earned 6 platinum, 11 gold and 7 silver albums. She was awarded an Olivier Award for her work in the theatre in ‘Blood Brothers’ and won a second Olivier and Best Actress in a Musical award from The Variety Club of Great Britain for her role as Viv Nicholson in ‘Spend, Spend, Spend.’

Further acting awards have included Best Actress in a Musical from the Liverpool Echo for her own show, ‘The Seven Ages of Woman’. 

Barbara is the highest selling female Scots album artist of all time, and forty-four years on from her first headlining tour she has a new studio album ‘Time is Going Faster’ out now, and the paperback edition of her autobiography ‘A Shirt Box Full of Songs’ has just been published.  

We are very much looking forward to her nationwide concert tour in Spring 2022.

Where in Scotland did you grow up, and what are your childhood memories?

I grew up in Dunfermline. I spent the first seven years of my life in Rosyth, after my family moved there. My Dad worked in Rosyth Dockyard, as a cook on a tug! I had a lovely and happy childhood and attended Camdean and Pitcorthie Primary Schools. My mother was from Liverpool, so I had a kind of cross cultural background with music around in the house and a warm, affectionate atmosphere.

When you are asked to describe Scotland to someone who hasn't been before, what do you say, and where would you recommend that they visit?

I can hardly believe that people (in the UK in particular) have never visited Scotland. They are astonished when they finally do come and see the beautiful wilderness we have, apart from the individual character of our cities. They, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen, have hugely different atmosphere. It's difficult to comprehend that such a small country should be so diverse, but I think it's got to do with the inaccessibility of travel in our past. My dear friend Yvonne was the custodian at Castle Campbell in Dollar Glen, for years. I visited her lots of times and had to pitch myself when I awoke in the morning and looked out of the window!

What past Scottish musicians have influenced your style and career, and what is your favourite [Scottish] song of all times? 

My mother's great favourite was Kenneth McKellar and I grew up listening to her records of his, even though she wasn't a Scot. My greatest influence musically has been Archie Fisher, the great Scots folk-singer. I learned an enormous amount from him, about the guitar and song-writing and his indelible stamp is on my interpretation of traditional material, even now.

When you're touring overseas what Scottish food and drink do you miss the most? Do you take any home comforts with you when you travel?

My children, all born in England, can never understand my passion for 'square sausage' which I love. I used to buy macaroon bars and tablet at the station, when, through tears, I'd board the London-bound train. Irn Bru is a great hangover cure, but I can't say it's an enjoyable experience to drink. Single Malt now, that's a different matter....

Who would be at your fantasy Scottish dinner party?

I'd like to have David I, King of Scotland, to find out where he's buried at Dunfermline Abbey, also, his mother, Queen Margaret, our first female saint. I'm very proud of her. Maybe Jack Bruce, the great bass player of Cream and my dear departed friend Gerry Rafferty, to play Beatles songs with. Also Robert Burns and Walter Scott would be fun, I'm sure. We could sing unseemly songs. I could also sing 'Jock of Hazeldean' for Scott and 'Auld Lang Syne' for Burns!

How can we support the performing arts, not only in Scotland, during these restricted times?

We need to have as much virtual performance as is possible. It's very difficult to get an atmosphere going however, without people in the room with the performers. Keeping venues open is key to this though, as we'll need to have them open, when finally allowed to return to concerts and theatre.

Many thanks to the ever fabulous Brian Aris for the photographs of Barbara.