A bit about Soutar
Ask most people in Perth who William Soutar is and they will probably be able to tell you he was a poet from the ‘Fair City’. There is an exhibition about him in the library, a small theatre named after him, a house to visit where he lived and died, a competition for school children to read his poems, and sculptures inspired by his poetry in Perth’s High Street. But outside Perth, Soutar has not gained the wider recognition that he deserves. He is something of a forgotten treasure in 21st century Scotland, taught in universities but too rarely in schools outwith Perth. Though he wrote poems in English, his most notable work was in Scots, a language he grew up speaking, and was desperate to preserve. http://www.williamsoutar.com
His poems lend themselves to being set to music and it was a joy for us to get the chance to do exactly that. It began with a commission from the Friends of William Soutar in 2012 which gave the three of us (Kevin MacKenzie, Paul Harrison, Debra Salem) the opportunity to turn eighteen of his poems into songs. Thirteen of these songs became part of IN A SMA ROOM, a work of music and theatre which included monologues from characters in Soutar's life through the vehicle of a medium trying to conjure up Soutar in her 'medium' show. The production went on a small Scottish tour and then, in 2014, it was accepted into the ‘Made in Scotland’ showcase within the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
This production was just a great way to tell people about Soutar's work and life. With both incarnations of the show, people kept asking for recordings of the songs – so after a further 4 years of us not quite getting it together, with your help it can finally happen.
A bit about the recording and background
We want to record all eighteen songs and produce an accompanying songbook so that others can experience the poetry of William Soutar in this musical form.
IN A SMA ROOM (the original title of the show and a line from the poem/song Ballad) will be an album which does not have a particular musical genre at its core but is a melting pot of styles where the musicians bring their backgrounds in folk, jazz and classical music to interpret each poem in a unique way. As with the show, the songs will be recorded with Debra (vocals), Paul (piano), Kevin (guitar) and Patsy Reid (strings). In addition there will be one or two musical guests.
To record, produce and master this album the way we want to, a way that will do the poems and the music justice, is going to cost around £10,000 (this includes the songbook) and the more we can make from this Kickstarter the less we need to seek from other sources. We are aiming to have the project completed for our Perth Theatre gig on April 22nd 2019. This is to coincide with the first Soutar Festival of Words which will take place the following weekend.
Through the album and the songbook, we hope to get more people interested in this poet who was born in Perth in April 1898 and invalided out of the navy with sore feet at 21. His first volume of poems was published in 1923 and around the same time crippling pains in his legs put paid to his hopes of a teaching career. His family moved into the Soutar House in Wilson Street, Perth in 1924 and by the age of 32 he was bedridden, suffering from ankylosing spondylitis. He died of tuberculosis in 1943 aged 45. In the 13 years before his death, poems poured out of him as he lay in his bed looking out of his window.
Please support us
If you support us you will be part of making this project happen, of making it possible for this album to exist at all. There are many ways to get involved and it will be great to know that when your packages arrive in the post, or you click on 'download' – it will not only be our music that is getting out there, but the beautiful words of William Soutar.
Debra, Paul and Kevin
Risks and challenges
This is the first stage of our fundraising campaign and no matter what, it will happen. We have set, what we hope, is an achievable goal so that your contributions can be used but would really appreciate it if people continued to support us, even after the goal is reached. As we said, the more we from here, the less from elsewhere and our final target is around £10,000.
It is going to be tight getting this all done so that we can launch in April, but having a goal really helps us focus on the project and we are hopeful that we can achieve this time-frame.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)