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Award recognises Maria’s dialect singing work

Evergreen singers

A DECADE-OLD project aimed at promoting the use of Shetland dialect in song has won recognition at the Chorus Community Music Awards 2017.

The work of Maria Barclay and the Shetland Dialect Singing Project has earned a Milestone award – recognising choirs, leaders and members of groups celebrating significant anniversaries.

For the past ten years the project has helped promote the use of dialect in songs. Maria describes it as a “super way to learn the dialect through workshops in a fun and accessible way”, with singing workshops also including the use of isles-themed puppets including Sammy Selkie, Tammy Norie and Larry the Laverick, which “helps bring the songs to life – especially for the early primary classes”.

Evergreen – a singing group that has performed at local events including Shetland Folk Festival – stemmed from the project.

Maria Barclay.

“The inspiration behind the dialect songs stems from my father Eddie Barclay, who is a singer-songwriter in Shetland and made many recordings when I was a little girl,” Maria said.

She said a new resource for schools was being recorded with local singer-songwriter Arthur Nicholson accompanying her on guitar.

“There’s so many wonderful songs out there,” she said. “It is so important to keep our dialect alive and singing is the perfect vehicle for this.

“I have written two children’s books based on the puppets in the songs. I have used them interactively in classes on the whiteboard to tie in with the workshops and am looking into getting them published.”

One of the main highlights of the project, Maria said, was “seeing children’s confidence grow through singing… the shy little child who doesn’t want to perform, turning into the child who wants to stand right at the front on the stage with no worries at all, singing a dialect song perfectly”.

Hands Up for Trad is an organisation that aims to promote traditional Scottish music through education, and it is supported by Creative Scotland.

Event founder and creative director Simon Thoumire said: “The Chorus Community Music Awards celebrate how music enables people to enjoy and learn from making music with each other and how it enriches their lives.

“We’re delighted to showcase the outstanding practice and great things going on in Scotland’s communities as we honour the people who work behind the scenes to help others. Congratulations to all our deserving winners.”

General Election - 12 December 2019