Fife music legend is coming home to celebrate the legacy of Andrew Carnegie

Barbara Dickson outside Carnegie Hall in Dunfermline. Pic: David Wardle.
Barbara Dickson outside Carnegie Hall in Dunfermline. Pic: David Wardle.

Fife music legend Barbara Dickson is returning to her family and musical roots this month after being invited to give a special concert to mark the centenary of Dunfermline-born American industrialist Andrew Carnegie’s death.

Scotland’s biggest selling female singer of all time will take to the stage at Carnegie Hall on September 21 as part of a series of events to mark the milestone.

Barbara Dickson will perform on stage at Carnegie Hall with Nick Holland later this month. Pic: Brian Aris.

Barbara Dickson will perform on stage at Carnegie Hall with Nick Holland later this month. Pic: Brian Aris.

Speaking to The Guide, she revealed what audiences can expect from the show, organised by Dynamic Dunfermline.

“It is basically the two of us on stage - myself and Nick Holland (who plays keyboards and sings), as opposed to the five I normally work with in a bigger band.

“Nick and I play together and the mood will be much the same as any concert of mine.

“I try to get the thread of what I love in music coming through so I tend to keep the mood much the same.

Barbara Dickson is returning to Dunfermline to celebrate the legacy of Andrew Carnegie . pic: Brian Aris

Barbara Dickson is returning to Dunfermline to celebrate the legacy of Andrew Carnegie . pic: Brian Aris

“I play all guitar and a bit of keyboard and Nick plays the keyboards, b ut we make a good noise and the Carnegie Hall will be a good-sized venue for us to be on stage together.”

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She revealed that they are bringing a special guest – singer-songwriter Anthony Toner from Northern Ireland – who is opening the show.

And this will be the first of the duo shows Barbara and Nick are doing this year.

She said: “I don’t have all kinds of different repertoires that I do.

“My repertoire in the last 20 years has been a mixture of traditional music and I use 20th century songwriters who I like and admire.

“I’d likely be doing songs by James Taylor but I don’t quite know what I am going to play in Dunfermline because I haven’t made the setlist for the night yet.

“But this is the kind of mood of the stuff I am likely to play and I also do one or two songs frvom 30-40 years ago that people would expect to hear from me.”

Is there a favourite song she enjoys performing?

“I enjoy doing all sorts of things and it is the fact I do a variety of songs that makes it so enjoyable,” she explained.

“But there is a song in my old repertoire, a song from 1980, that people really love and love it so much that if I didn’t sing it, they would be terribly disappointed - it is a song called Caravans.

“I don’t know what it is about it.

“It has a sort of hymn-like quality and people feel inspired by it in some way.

“ I have had people say to me ‘all my life that song inspired me’, and it is rather nice not being aware of this in a way because it becomes a terrible responsibility.

“But nevertheless I am delighted. Because I have continued to tour regardless of whether I was having success in the charts or not, I have had a really good vibrant career.

“All these years, I have never stopped working live.”

She continued: “But I get that with other songs too.

“Because I spent my formative years in folk music and being a folk musician, you are a storyteller.

“The songs tend to communicate with people on an interesting level.

“There are some artists that people don’t really connect with, but people say to me ‘I love that verse’ etc and it is because I am investing in the telling of the story.

“Another Suitcase Another Hall being a case in point - a Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber song.

“It has got a really simple story and that is why it has been so popular in my career all these years.

“It is a story about loss and people identify with that because we have all had these things happen to us.”

But how did she feel being asked to perform this concert which is celebrating Andrew Carnegie’s legacy?

“I am a Dunfermline girl, born and bred, so Andrew Carnegie is in my DNA like anyone else who comes from Dunfermline,” she said.

“But I would think my generation, who were born just after the war, were probably much more aware of him.

“He paid for the gala day, the library, the Carnegie Hall – he paid for everything that was a treat for young people in the town.

“We saw him as being an enormous benefactor.

“Even 50 years after he died, the children and the young people of Dunfermline knew perfectly well who he was.

“ I’m not certain that is the case now.”

“Therefore I am very proud, very proud to represent my generation at the concert and to remember his legacy.

“He must have been one of, if not the greatest, benefactor ever.

“He was one of the greatest ever Scotsmen because of his amazing generosity.

“I read a book about him quite recently and I didn’t know anything about the legacy of his family and that they were looking for better rights for workers and help them to improve their lives.

“I also didn’t realise that Lauder - from the Lauder Technical College in Dunfermline - was Carnegie’s uncle.

“All sorts of connections with him and all embedded in the struggle of people in Scotland at that time.”

Barbara, who now lives in Edinburgh, revealed she also has a connection with the venue she will perform at on September 21: “I am really looking forward to coming to Dunfermline and to Carnegie Hall which is one of my favourite venues ever in the world - I absolutely love it and I actually danced as a five-year-old there in a display!

“I am looking forward to making a little pilgrimmage from Edinburgh to Dunfermline to say thank you to him for what he did for us all.”

She added: “There is a lovely thing about coming home and I am very proud to be from Dunfermline. Your audience is always loving and kind and because I am from Dunfermline, they treat me as a special person to be appearing there.”