In A Sma' Room is a newly released CD and songbook by Perth-based singer-songwriter Debra Salem celebrating the poetry of William Soutar. The project began in 2012 with a commission to set 13 poems to music from The Friends of William Soutar. Supported by Horsecross, the resulting show debuted to great acclaim at Perth Concert Hall in 2012, from which this video is taken. The CD and songbook can be bought here and will make the perfect stocking-filler for any music or poetry lover in your life.
In A Sma' Room is the title of a newly released CD and songbook by Perth-based singer/songwriter Debra Salem celebrating the poetry of William Soutar. The project began back in 2012 with a commission by The Friends of William Soutar. In A Sma' Roomwas initially a music and theatre show incorporating thirteen William Soutar poems turned into songs by Debra and two other composer/musicians Paul Harrison and Kevin MacKenzie. These were integrated with a script introducing characters from Soutar’s life which was written by another Perth-based creative , Ajay Close. Horsecross Arts supported the project and after a tour which began at Perth Concert Hall, the show was revived for the 2014 Made in Scotland Showcase at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Debra said, “Each time we would perform the show, someone would ask us about the music and if it was available to buy but sadly Kevin, Paul and I just didn’t have the time at that point to make a CD. However, it was always hoped that one day we would get the opportunity to record them along with another six songs that we couldn’t fit in the show. About two years ago we finally started to make it happen and that’s also when we thought it would be great to produce an accompanying songbook incorporating the sheet music so others can take these songs, which are in English and Scots, and make them their own. This is our way of championing the beautiful poetry of William Soutar and sharing his words through music, with audiences old and new. As Soutar is the focus, it was also really important to include the poems as a booklet within the CD – the poems are the lyrics. We were really pleased to have Tippermuir Books publish the accompanying Songbook which also contains the poems, the sheet music, a biography of Soutar and information on the original project. We’ve also been really lucky to have Scottish artist Bryan Angus, design the beautiful cover-art which was inspired by a photograph of the room in Wilson Street where Soutar spent the last 13 years of his life bedridden, yet still writing”
The music is influenced by the folk, jazz and classical backgrounds of the composers, and the ensemble includes the composers themselves along with percussionist Singy Jakobdottir, bass player Andrew Robb and Perth’s own string guru Patsy Reid who was part of the original 4-piece band from the show.
The ‘In a Sma Room; recording and songbook project was funded in part by a Kickstarter campaign and with support from the Andrew Tannahill Trust for the Furtherance of Scottish Literature. Both CD and book can currently be purchased from www.debrasalem.co.uk, Amazon and Tippermuir Books; and the music can be downloaded from most music streaming sites including Bandcamp, Spotfiy, Amazon Music and Apple Music.