Anne Lorne Gillies has enjoyed a notable singing career for over fifty years. She was raised in a croft-house in Argyll, surrounded by traditional music, and began life as a Gaelic singer. But the family home was full of classical music too – thanks to Anne’s cellist mother and violinist grandmother, who regularly squeezed improbable numbers of people and instruments into their tiny kitchen for chamber music sessions. It was Granny who commenced Anne’s musical education at the age of four.
At University in Edinburgh in the 1960s – the height of the Folk Revival – Anne boosted her student grant with a succession of 5-guinea gigs: cèilidhs and festivals, Highland tours, live radio recitals and black-and-white TV programmes, before disappearing off to London to study under the legendary Viennese singing teacher, Mme Helene Isepp. Five inspirational years later she returned to Scotland to embark upon a new career, travelling from the Southside of Glasgow to a’ the airts to perform in concert, theatre and cabaret, radio, television and recording studio. She was especially fortunate to find herself starring in a stream of BBC TV “specials” produced in Scotland for transmission across the UK network, performing her eclectic repertoire – including of course Gaelic songs – alongside a constellation of international guests, from Stephane Grapelli to Fairport Convention, Scottish Ballet to the Chieftains. She also raised a family of three talented children, one of whom attended the RSAMD Junior School.
Anne acquired many other skills along the way. To her MA from Edinburgh she added an LRAM; Post-graduate teaching qualifications from the Universities of London and Strathclyde; a PhD from Glasgow and, eventually, a full-time Lectureship in the Education Faculty of Strathclyde. She expanded her understanding of arts in the community in many different contexts, from Craigmillar talent-shows, fèisean in the Western Isles and transatlantic summer schools, to challenging full-time remits as National Education Officer for Comann na Gàidhlig and Arts Development Officer for Govan Initiative Ltd. She honed her behind-the-camera skills as a Producer of Gaelic programmes for Scottish Television and other independent networks, and found time to author and edit books in both Gaelic and English, including her magnum opus, Songs of Gaelic Scotland, acclaimed not only on account of the priceless heritage it represents, but also as a reflection of the lives of the people who composed and transmitted the songs. Latterly she brought all these skills together as co-Director of the Ayrshire-based Gaelic multi-media partnership Brìgh.
Over the years Anne has been honoured to receive many awards in recognition of her efforts on behalf of Scots and Gaelic culture. Among those dearest to her heart are the Honorary Doctorate from her alma mater, the University of Edinburgh; her Honorary Fellowship from the University of the Highlands and Islands; and her place in the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame – even if it did make her feel as if she might have inadvertently died and gone to heaven!