Day 199- Iona, 20, Huntly

I am a folksinger from the small town of Huntly, in the North East. I am in my third year of study Traditional Music at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and completed a Fellowship of London College of Music in Traditional Scottish Voice. I volunteer as National Director of the Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland, which exists to promotes Scotland’s oral traditions. I work on the board of the Traditional Music Forum and most recently have joined the North East Language Advisory Board which exists to haud, promote, an celebrate the eese o North-East Scots. /


Which young Scot inspires you?
Mhairi Black, the youngest MP, who represents Paisley and Renfrewshire South truly inspires me. Mhairi is open, genuine and truly stands for what she believes in. She rises above bullies and above negativity to focus on herself and her responsibilities in a healthy, pro-active and inspiring way.

What is the best thing about growing up in Scotland?
Growing up in a land steeped in such culture and tradition, and a region, Aberdeenshire which so many historical ballads and songs on its doorstep has been instrumental in encouraging my development as a traditional musician. Singing songs about your native, and giving your style a unique voicing of place truly allows you to become a unique artist.

What would you most like people from older generations to know about young people?
I’d like to assure the older generation, that we truly appreciate our surroundings, our background and our history. Growing up, we become even more fond and attached to our roots, and we begin to understand that where we came from informs us for the rest of our life – informs the experiences we have and the work we create. Place means everything.

What is your biggest achievement to date?
My biggest achievement to date is the release of my debut album, Away From My Window – a record which celebrates source and revivalist singers of Aberdeenshire. It was created over the space of two years, during which I was studying, touring and volunteering with organisations listed above. It became very difficult to find time, and I fell unwell during the process, but it makes it all the more satisfying.

What would you most like to achieve in the future?
Whilst I have spent most of my teenage years considering my native region and it’s inspiration on my repertoire, when I graduate from the RCS (formerly Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama), I hope to travel to Appalachia and collect folksongs which will then go on to inform the repertoire featured in my second album.

What message would you like to give to other young people in Scotland?
Never think that your goals are unattainable, with enough work, patience, persistence and support, you can achieve whatever you want. If you feel overwhelmed and exhausted, take a step back and consider your priorities, what you want to achieve, and also what is feasible to achieve. It may not be easy and may take longer than expected, but it will be worth it.

If Iona’s story has inspired you, why not share it on social media using the hashtag #MyStory365 or visit the ‘Get Involved’ section to share your own story!

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