"a voice to die for, pure enunciation, clarity of tone and the ability to squeeze the last drop out of every note - sheer undiluted magic..." CELTIC WORLD MAGAZINE
Helensburgh resident Kirsten was born Kirsten Jane Dickson on the 4th of June 1966, at Redlands Hospital in Glasgow.
A professional singer since 1991, Kirsten has sung both as a solo artist, and with bands “Whisky Fingers”, ”The Cutting Edge” and top Celtic band “Calasaig”, performing at concerts, Civic receptions, Burns suppers and festivals worldwide, including Scotland’s own ‘Celtic Connections’, Loch Lomond Folk and ‘Burns An A That’ festivals.
Kirsten grew up in a musical family in Uddingston. She attended Uddingston Grammar School where she played the violin and sang in both school and church productions. During this period she also played the violin for the 'Lanarkshire Junior String Orchestra'.
On leaving school, Kirsten performed in several amateur choral productions, before making the leap to sing professionally in 1991. After an apprenticeship served singing in hotels and clubs, Kirsten became involved in the Scottish Traditional music scene - a musical genre in which she was to excel.
During the early nineties Kirsten was a member of folk group 'Whisky Fingers' who played folk clubs, some Scottish Festivals and Gala Days. Around this time Kirsten ventured to London, to learn to make reeds for small pipes and early instruments for pipe makers "The Border Chantery. In 1995, Kirsten joined the Dundee based band ‘The Cutting Edge', performing at festivals all over the world.
Throughout this period Kirsten added her unique vocal talents to many session recordings and it was during one such session in 1997 that the Celtic band Calasaig was born.
Described as "...the best young (multi-instrumental) band in Scotland..." by The List, Calasaig have secured an admirable reputation in the world of traditional music through their numerous performances and quality recordings. Their albums, Until Then, Making For The Shore, Near & Far and Merchants' City have brought the band critical acclaim and have ensured their continued inclusion in the top ten of several traditional music album charts in Europe and the US, as well as on radio play lists around the world.
Kirsten has also performed on stage with Donovan, and along with Calasaig, has supported, artists including Shane McGowan and Donnie Munro and has appeared regularly on TV and radio throughout Europe, Asia and North America.
Kirsten has recorded several albums for the REL, Lazy Mist, Pict, and Linn record labels, and was a lead vocalist on Linn record’s landmark project to record every song written or edited by Robert Burns (the only series of its kind in the world), the 12 volume “The Complete Songs of Robert Burns”. Typically given Kirsten’s musical heritage, her first solo album, Be Not Afraid was a celebration of 3 millennia of Celtic Christian music which was recorded at Millennium Studios in Ontario.
In addition to her vocal talents, Kirsten has also used her knowledge and experience of Scotland’s music industry to produce concerts, featuring acoustic musicians and singers, for 'Laurie's', in the Merchant City, called 'Trad In the City', and she also provided the musicians for 'Visit Scotland's 'Glasgow - Scotland With Style' campaign. She has also given workshops for Celtic Connections Education Programme, The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama's Outreach Programme, Goderich's Celtic College in Ontario, The Arts Factory and she has done vocal coaching for BBC Television.
From 2005 through to 2008, Kirsten’s professional career was placed on hold as she cared full time for her son Stuart, who has Autism. Throughout this period, Kirsten still found the time to assist local organisations, lending them her musical talents and expertise, as and when she could. One such organisation to benefit was Helensburgh Heroes, with Kirsten offering her services as Assistant Musical Director on the 'Heroes' recording project.
In early 2009, Kirsten returned to the world of professional music, when she formed the trio 'Bring in the Spirit' with celebrated musicians Lionel MacClelland & Gregor Lowrey, in order to perform the poetry, songs and music of Robert Burns. The name of the trio “Bring in the Spirit”, comes from the “Before and after dinner Grace” which Burns agreed to compose for the Landlord of The Globe Inn in exchange for his own dinner.
Images courtesy and copyright Steve Niblock