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They Sent a Wumman: The Collected Songs of Nancy Nicolson


Product Description

The Collected Songs of Nancy Nicolson

Authored by Nancy Nicolson
Contributions by George Gunn, Gerda Stevenson, Ewan McVicar
Edited by Eberhard Bort

ISBN: 978-1-907676-86-4

Cultural Crofter is a very apt description for Nancy Nicolson – she is a Scottish folk singer and a tradition bearer, a songwriter and a storyteller and a melodeon player. Brought up on a croft in Caithness, the former Edinburgh teacher has worked with the BBC, Celtic Connections, and the New Makars Trust. It was high time that her songs were collected and published, and Grace Note Publications has done just that, to coincide with her 75th birthday in 2016.

They sent a Wumman: The Collected Songs of Nancy Nicolson contains an autobiographical piece by Nancy herself, as well as contributions by her fellow-Caithnessian writer George Gunn, by singer, songwriter, actor and director Gerda Stevenson and the folk singer, songwriter and publisher Ewan McVicar. But the focus is, as editor Paddy Bort writes in his introduction, firmly on the songs, in all their glorious diversity. Like few others, Nancy Nicolson has the gift – as writer, singer and storyteller – to communicate the life and culture of Scotland, with rare warmth and energy and her very own brand of wit and wisdom.

As can be seen in this volume, Nancy Nicolson covers (nearly) every subject under the sun – from bootleg whisky to the Miners’ Strike, from bairns’ play to the grim and cruel games of war, and from ‘hauf-hinget’ Maggie to ‘Maggie’s Pit Ponies’. Some of her songs have assumed almost ‘traditional’ status by now – among them Nancy’s greatest hits: ‘’Listen tae the Teacher’, ‘The Moon in the Morning’, ‘The Brickie’s Ballad’ and, of course, ‘They Sent a Wumman’. Among others, Gerda Stevenson, The McCalmans and Ed Miller have recorded her songs.



About the author:

Nancy Nicolson

Nancy Nicolson – singer, songwriter, melodeon player, speaker, teacher, trainer or, if you wish, ‘Cultural Crofter’ – was brought up on a croft in Caithness. From behind the curtain in the box bed when she should have been sleeping, she used to hear her “Granda and his cronies yarning about poaching and illicit stills.” She remembers there was water from the well, peats for fuel, and a pair of Clydesdales as the only horse-power on the croft, but that did not stop her being an Elvis fan and a rock-n-roller when she went to the dances in Wick.

Nancy studied at Edinburgh University and at Moray House Teacher Training College, and became a primary school teacher. She was a scriptwriter for BBC Scotland Schools Radio, worked with the New Makars Trust, writing songs with bairns in Fife, and was Education Officer with Celtic Connections.

Nancy came late to singing, believing, like so many others, that she could not sing. Aged 33, she began to sing at Edinburgh Folk Club, and soon after started to write songs and to play melodeon. While resident musician at the Royal Oak Folk Bar in Edinburgh, she was described by one regular as ‘an instant ceilidh’. As writer, singer, storyteller, and animateur, Nancy Nicolson communicates the life and culture of Scotland with rare warmth and energy, and her own brand of wit and wisdom.

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Grace Note Publications

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  1. Stupendous! 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 12th Jul 2017

    Not so much a book, more of a universe. Nancy's songs are so wide-ranging, by turns humorous, feisty, tender, all beautifully written. As well as the text and manuscript notation of the songs, the book has an autobiographical section and contributions from Gerda Stevenson, George Gunn and the late Paddy Bort and is illustrated throughout by photographs, many from the collection of the Johnston family of Wick. A beautifully produced book, lovely to look at and to hold, it also includes an 18-track CD of Nancy's singing. Please, please, someone get that wumman into a recording studio to put down the songs and poems that are not on this CD!

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