As a multi-million selling recording artist with an equally impressive Olivier Award winning acting career, Barbara Dickson OBE has firmly established herself as one of the most enduring and popular artistes in Britain today.
Born in Dunfermline, Scotland, Barbara’s love of music was evident from an early age – she began studying piano at the age of five and by twelve had also taken up the guitar. She developed an interest in folk music whilst at school which led to floor spots singing at her local folk club. After relocating to Edinburgh, she went on to combine a day job in the Civil Service whilst steadily pursuing her first love, music, in local pubs and clubs. The watershed moment came in 1968 when, after being refused leave from her job for an overseas singing engagement, Barbara resigned, determined to pursue a career for herself in the burgeoning folk scene of the late ‘60’s.
The next few years saw her gradually ‘paying her dues’ on the Scottish and English folk circuit, steadily building a reputation and working with the likes of Billy Connolly, Gerry Rafferty, Rab Noakes and Archie Fisher. Early folk albums, which she recorded for Trailer and Decca Records, were well received. Barbara readily admits that she would have been happy to continue her life as a travelling folk musician, but a meeting with an old friend, musician and playwright Willy Russell, in Liverpool in the early 70s was to change the course of her career completely.
She is currently working on a new studio album, a follow-up her recent live album, ‘In Good Company,’ which will feature some of her favourite songs recorded with a string quartet featuring new arrangements by John O'Hara, and she is also planning another release which she hopes will coincide with her next full band tour in early 2019. Whilst Barbara remains modest about her many achievements, with seventeen Platinum and Gold albums to her name she remains Scotland’s biggest-selling female singer of all time.
Aly Bain, the great folk musician, has described her as having the best female voice ever to come out of Scotland whilst Billy Connolly says “from the very first time I heard her, her voice just nailed me to the wall. She’s just a one-off.” Barbara is quick to dismiss this politely as pure opinion, but the accolades she has received over the years undoubtedly recognise that she has been touched with a gift that is of great importance to her and, more importantly, to her audience.
“Singing is not,” she says, “about technique but what is in your heart. That is the secret”.