FP100 Fife bands 8. The Singing Kettle

The Singing Kettle
The Singing Kettle

There cannot be a household in Scotland - or, indeed, beyond - which doesn’t have a red singing kettle among its childhood souvenirs.

The group has simply cornered the market when it comes to children’s entertainment.

Anya Scott-Rodgers

Anya Scott-Rodgers

And its global success - from stage stage shows to DVDs to royal recognition - all stems from the wee village of Kettle in the heart of the Kingdom.

The Singing Kettle can point to a 30-year career.

It was the brainchild of husband and wife team Artie Tresize and Cilla Fisher, well known figures on Fife’s vibrant folk scene of the early 1970s.

They started with a children’s album which featured everything from traditional Scottish rhymes to songs learned on their folk tour of America.

That led to a stage show, and a musical legacy was created with almost every youngster able to recite the mantra ‘‘spout, handle, lid of metal ... what’s inside the singing kettle?!’’

Early shows were based around clues for songs inside the famous brightly coloured kettles which remark their trademark to this day.

Their colourful, noisy, action-packed shows - often described as ‘pantos without the boring bits’ - were an instant hit.

Joined by friend Gary Coupland who added a vast range of musical accompaniment from keyboards to sax to trombone, The Singing Kettle wowed their young audiences in schools and then concert halls, including the Palladium in London.

Each tour had a different theme with audiences invited to dress up and join in, and the formula also translated to television - The Singing Kettle’s ITV series drew audiences of 200,000 families, and they also recorded five hit series with the BBC.

Their DVDs also proved to be hugely popular around the globe - the recording of their ‘Pirates’ show went straight in at number four in the children’s video charts, while their original BBC videos have clocked up sales in excess of 375,000.

On stage it is estimated the group has played to some four million adults and kids, logging some 200 shows every year - and it is still going strong.

That constant success led to MBEs for the group’s original members - the first time since The Beatles that all band members had received royal recognition - while their TV work resulted in a BAFTA for best children’s programme. The group also received the Prince Michael of Kent Award for Road Safety.

The Singing Kettle once made a trip to Jordan to give a special performance for the Royal family - a nanny from South Queensferry who was working for the Royal family in Amman arranged the trip to perform at Princess Salma’s birthday party.

The gang were made most welcome by King Abdullah and Queen Rania.

Folkways Records in the USA also released a Singing Kettle CD entitled “Singalong Songs from Scotland” and invited the group to play at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival held on the National Mall in front of Washington DC’s Capitol Building.

In 1993 the group opened a shop in Kettle, bringing huge numbers of fans to their home town.

In 2013, after 30 years at the helm devising and staging shows around the globe, Cilla and Artie called time performing live, but they both continue their involvement in backstage creative roles.

Some 300 people auditioned to be part of the group with Anya Scott-Rodgers from Lanark getting the nod to start a new era for the group.