A new track from one of Perthshire's unsung songwriting talents. During lockdown, Lisa Rigby has found herself exploring her multi-layered identity, reflected powerfully in her song Building and in her unflinchingly honest post below. Both are being aired publicly to coincide with Black History Month and chime perfectly with its tagline of "Dig Deeper, Look Closer, Think Deeper". We would urge you to do the same.
One of my lockdown projects - while also working my regular voluntary sector job from home - has been learning to mix and master tracks I recorded 3 years ago! I hope to release an EP called Lore this October, Black History Month, and a turning point in a journey for me.
At the end of May a friend kindly asked how I was feeling: I haven’t replied yet (but will soon, likely after writing this) as the question, or rather my reaction to it, floored me.
I’m a many-faceted, complex person like most, and though I can seem confident outwardly, I’ve struggled with who I am: a mixed-heritage Scot in her 40s (born in market town England, moved to Perth mid 80s), daughter of an amazing Trinidadian woman from a family of 11, and a one-of-a-kind Causasian father (only child). Mum’s folks were from Grenada with roots to Africa and Venezuela; Dad’s family connected to Staffordshire, Scotland and Ulster! There will be connections to slavery - both to oppressors and oppressed.
My identity has been in question: where are my ‘roots’ (if not in Scotland). Alba is where I feel most connected to - I’ve lived here most my life - yet I’ve often been asked ‘the question’ (if you don’t know which I mean, ask any black or brown-skinned friends, they’ll tell you). I’ve been informed that I’m Black by some but that I’m ‘not really’ by others (I am mixed race or mixed heritage, and never ‘half’ anything). I’ve had remarks about my ‘English’ accent, but folk have also been surprised when they meet me, having only heard my ‘Scottish’ accent on the phone.
I’m not so strongly connected to either side of my family including my huge Trini family, yet I feel a pressure to ‘represent’. I’m often the only brown face at gigs, particularly folk events. When my friend asked how I was doing, I realised how much armour I’d put on; how much manoeuvring I’d done to avoid being pigeon-holed; how I’d tamped down my youthful anger and frustration at injustice in a search of an ‘inner peace’. It’s worked to some degree but at a cost and too much compromise on my part. Brexit, continuing hate towards Black bodies (here as well as in the States), a global pandemic - ach, even 9/11 still reverberates: my friend's genuine concern had me almost fall apart. However, I am OK: I still recognise my blessings and privileges, especially these last 6 months. I’ve been able to be creative and have control of that creativity and it's helped me accept myself a bit more.
Please stay safe and be kind to yourselves: I hope you find something interesting about this song.