Natalie Chalmers at the World’s Room

15 May 2023

The Waverley, St Mary’s Street, Edinburgh


Born and brought up in Fraserburgh, Natalie is a traditional singer and storyteller who regularly performs and competes in concerts and festivals around Scotland. She studied at the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music at Plockton. Having been steeped in the strong heritage of North-East ballads and stories from the likes of Elizabeth Stewart and Stanley Robertson, Natalie is now enjoying the equally strong, traditional music scene whilst living in Glasgow. She is on the committee of the TMSA Aberdeen branch and is co-host of Trad Time Wi’ TMSA on Keith Community Radio.

Aileen Carr at the World’s Room

17 April, 2023

The Waverley, St Mary’s Street, Edinburgh


From a musical family, Aileen Carr has been singing ever since she can remember. Hearing Belle Stewart at one of the Blairgowrie festivals was a defining moment for her as she turned her attention to traditional song and got involved in the lively folk club scene of the 1970s both in Scotland and in Yorkshire, including at the Watersons’ famous Bluebell Club in Hull.

Although known as a solo performer Aileen has been a member of bands like Ceolbeg and the a capella trio Palaver. It’s a format that she clearly enjoys as she is currently singing up a storm in another trio, Choras along with Janice Reavell and Barbara Dymock.

Aileen continues to sing solo, and over and above her clear, disciplined performances and her excellent, powerful singing voice, searching out fresh and interesting material from both sung and printed sources. That activity has given her a wide repertoire which includes the great muckle sangs, the ballads.

The Scotsman critic who wrote, “There was nothing to beat the full-blooded, attacking style of Aileen Carr, at her powerful, ‘wha-daur-meddle’ best…”. We’re delighted to have Aileen back at the World’s Room.

Pete Shepheard at the World’s Room

Screen Shot 2023-03-01 at 11.33.31

13 March, 2023

The Waverley, St Mary’s Street, Edinburgh


Pete is a singer, melodeon player, and song collector who has been involved in traditional song since the early 1960s. He was organiser of the original Blairgowrie Folk Festival, a founder member of the TMSA, and decades later is still organising singing festivals, with the annual Fife Traditional Singing Festival his current responsibility. He also runs Springthyme Records which has released many significant recordings of tradition bearers including two albums of his own as part of the trio, Shepheard, Spiers and Watson, with Tom Spiers and Arthur Watson.

Pete has learned songs direct from folk like Luke Kelly and the Dubliners, Jeannie Robertson, Willie Scott, Jimmy McBeath, and the Stewarts of Blair, the latter when joining them one summer at the berries in Perthshire, an experience which led to a long association with the song tradition of the Travellers across the British Isles.

An acknowledged authority on folk song Pete has presented lectures and workshops based on his song and music collecting, on ballad repertoire, traditional singing style, song repertoire among the Gypsy families of Gloucestershire and among the Scottish travelling and farming communities in Fife, Tayside and Aberdeenshire. Expect a wealth of good songs from Pete’s extensive repertoire from all parts of these islands.

(Photograph courtesy Hands Up For Trad)

Henry Douglas at the World’s Room

Henry Douglas

13 March, 2020

The Waverley, St Mary’s Street, Edinburgh


Our guest this month is the legendary Hawick singer, Henry Douglas, who cites fellow Borderer, the late Willie Scott as his great friend and mentor. Henry  was born in the Yarrow Valley and has farmed all his life, mainly at Howahill near Bonchester Bridge. He is an enthusiast for Borders life, poetry and song, has been very active in the Border common ridings (former president of all three of Hawick’s Common Riding clubs) and was Official Hawick Common Riding Song Singer from 1985 – 2000. In 2014 he received the British Empire Medal for services to the community in Bonchester. Speaking to the local paper on the news of the award, Henry said, “I’ve had great enjoyment from my singing and met some super folk. It’s been a huge part of my life and so different from farming every day.”

Ellie Beaton at the World’s Room

Ellie Beaton (2)

14 February, 2020

The Waverley, St Mary’s St, Edinburgh


Ellie Beaton is our youngest guest at the World’s Room so far. Hailing from just outside Rothienorman, Ellie has been brought up with traditional and bothy ballads alike. Last year she has performed at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Aberdeen Music Hall and as a guest artist at various folk festivals across the country. In the past year she also collaborated Malinky, guesting on their album, Handsel. For 2020, Ellie has qualified for the Bothy Ballad Champion of Champions competition at Elgin where she will compete against the best Bothy Ballad singers in the country. And later this year she moves to Glasgow to study at the RCS.

Hamish Henderson Night at the World’s Room


13 December, 2019, 8pm

Canon’s Gait (NB), 232 Canongate, Edinburgh

In what will likely be the final event celebrating Hamish Henderson’s centenary, The World’s Room invites you to round off the year by contributing something in memory of the man. No guest this month – it’s just yourselves. It could be one of his songs, something associated with one of the many people he collected from, something from the Kist o Riches. Or it could by anything – the very fact we’re gathering to sing is as fitting a way to remember him as any. Note the change of venue, for this month only.

Stanley Robertson Night at the World’s Room with Janice Clark and Iona Fyfe



15 November, 2019

The Waverley, St Mary’s Street, Edinburgh

To commemorate the decade that has passed since the death of Stanley Robertson’s, one of the great traveller singers and storytellers, The World’s Room this month features two singers who have been directly and indirectly influenced by him.

Janice Clark was born and brought up in Aberdeen and from a very early age, took an interest in the traditional music and song of the North East of Scotland. Her ballad singing style was heavily influenced by some of the great local source singers like Stanley and his near relations, Jeannie Robertson and her daughter, Lizzie Higgins . Janice began singing at Folk Clubs and Festivals in her early teens and travelled and recorded with bands such as Iolair, Lang Johnnie Moore and Highland Connection. 

Janice began teaching singing workshops at Folk Festivals throughout Scotland. She now tutors for SC&T in Aberdeen as musical director of the SC&T Choir and is interested in helping experienced singers build a repertoire, develop their individual style and gain performance skills for solo and group singing.

Iona Fyfe is gaining recognition as one of Scotland’s finest young folk singers. Although she never met Stanley Robertson she regards herself as being rooted deeply in the singing traditions of the North East of Scotland which he embodied. The youngest ever winner of Scots Singer of the Year at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2018, she has been described as “one of the best Scotland has to offer”  ( and as “a Scottish folksinger, magical and charismatic” by no less than Rolling Stone magazine.



Joe Aitken at the World’s Room


11 October, 2019

The Waverley St Mary’s St, Edinburgh


Joe Aitken is one of the great upholders of Scotland’s bothy ballad tradition and a singer of Scots song who has taken his native tradition to appreciative audiences all over Scotland, in England, Ireland and Germany. The winner of many singing competitions for his authentic narrative style, Joe is literally a champion of champions, having won for a record six times the Bothy Ballad Champions competition held annually at Elgin Town Hall.

Neither wonder! Joe was born into the bothy ballad tradition in 1944 to parents who were both from Aberdeenshire, although working on a farm in Perthshire at that time. Joe’s earliest memories are of that farm and hearing his father singing, and he remembers being hoisted onto a kist at a young age to sing ‘Loch Lomond’ to the men in the farm bothy.

It wasn’t until the early 1980s, however, that Joe began to take singing more seriously. In 1982, the Kinross Folk Festival moved to Kirriemuir, where by this time Joe was working on the family farm, and Joe was encouraged to enter the singing competition. He didn’t win that one but within a few years he had won the first of many cups, at Auchtermuchty, and was mixing with his heroes, including Jock Duncan and Tam Reid.

Jock and Tam were happy to teach Joe any song he showed an interest in and other singers, including Belle Stewart, made tapes of songs for him, making Joe a genuine keeper of the oral tradition. For Joe, who worked on the land for most of his working life, the bothy ballads are a social and political history of farms and farming and the big ballads, or muckle sangs, a treasure trove of stories that he gets great pleasure from sharing. He also enjoys the humour in some of the less reverent traditional songs.

As well as singing in competitions, Joe has sung at festivals including Sidmouth and Whitby and he was honoured to appear in the opening concert at Celtic Connections in 2016, marking the 50th anniversary of the TMSA. He is equally happy to sing to much smaller audiences and enjoys creating a rapport with listeners in intimate venues (like the Waverley!)

He is widely admired among his contemporaries and hugely respected by the many younger singers he has influenced and he was a very popular and deserving winner of the Scots Singer of the Year title at the MG Scots Trad Music Awards in 2010. He is also a member of the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame.

_(Photo of Joe by Louis de Carlo)__________________________________

Susie Kelly at the World’s Room


Susie Kelly

13 September, 2019

The Waverley, St Mary’s St, Edinburgh


Susie is a weel kent face on the folk scene having been a member of the 4-part harmony group Stravaig and for her work in Community Music, running singing groups, singing workshops and her involvement with Festivals.

From Edinburgh originally and now living in Stirling, her songs are a mix of traditional and contemporary, mostly unaccompanied and usually with a chorus. Her cuddles are also weel kent!