If the opening song of a set says something about the artist then Horse McDonald could not have said it better than with 'You Are'. From the start of this final performance from her 'Wee I AM' tour, we knew that we were in for a musical treat.
But what really draws attention are the vocals of Horse. With over two decades in the industry, she still feels fresh and shows a real passion for performing. A raw emotion loaded display and the pure energy emanating from the stage left the audience, ultimately, wanting more.
It is not every day that you get the opportunity to spend time with a living legend, let alone witness their work first hand, but I did just that when I was invited to meet Horse. I found her to be approachable and chatty while equally grounded.
She has assembled a skilled young band to accompany her extraordinary voice. They display an intricacy, finesse and understanding you would usually associate with a group that had been playing together for years.
" It feels great working with people who care about the music as much as I do," she enthuses.
So how do they all get on? " Gordon, Jen, Gemma, Samson and I have a great chemistry on and off stage. You can't make that up, it is either there or it isn't, we all get on really well together."
There is a charismatic, quick witted, playful nature to Horse, a side we rarely get to see.It seems hard to credit that her new, as yet untitled album, is her ninth studio album. Rightly proud that the songs 'have stood the test of time', Horse is not one to rest on her laurels producing music of remarkably consistent quality. Will Young covered one of her most popular songs - Careful - which he loved. She embodies the ethos of hard work, vocal excellence and songwriting brilliance - an intoxicating combination.
Her energy and enthusiasm seem undimmed with this latest release. " I particularly love the track Ghost", she smiles and having just listened to the track live it certainly sets the standard for the rest of the album.
"I love doing this. Regardless of how anxious or stressed I get, being up on stage and performing and writing and recording music, and having people tell me 'your music has saved me' makes it all worthwhile."
Horse wears her heart on her sleeve and it is important for her to connect with her growing number of fans. She has fully embraced the social networking tools of twitter and Facebook, enjoying the interaction with the very people that support her music. She is an inspirational woman and role model for many. From her being bullied in her hometown of Lanark, to seeking the relative sanctuary in her songwriting, generations have identified with her.
There is evidently an autobiographical element to her work. "My new single 'I am' says just that. 'I am what I am', and we can all identify with that. I'm saying that it's ok to be who you are, whatever or whoever that may be."
She welcomes the opportunity to give others hope and inspiration after facing her own demons head on. Horse was filmed recently making an honest and emotional video as part of the worldwide 'It Gets Better' anti-bullying project, a campaign that is very close to her heart. She displays both a strength and vulnerability and thankfully her resilience shines through.
The past few years have made her appreciate life even more and she is fully aware that no-one gets to mid-life unscathed. By her own admission she has suffered a number of personal blows. " I've been through some pretty life-changing events. The death of my parents, facing near death myself and the end of a draining relationship.
"It has shaken the foundation that my life was built on."
Some people might retreat to take stock, but Horse has rolled up her sleeves and celebrated surviving by getting right back in to her work. "The more I live, the more I want to enjoy the final third of my life."
When Heather Peace was in Glasgow filming , they spent time writing music together. Two of the tracks are featured on Heather's new album 'Fairytales'. Horse also took time out of her busy schedule to walk four stages of the West Highland Way to raise funds for the AT Society, a charity that she cares passionately about.
So what is next for Horse? " I have the album to finish and record, a UK wide winter tour and will be making my third trip to Australia, hopefully with the full band, early next year.
" I am very happy in both my personal and professional life right now, so the future is bright."
Horse has earned her place among history's truly iconic singers and I, for one, hope she continues what she does best for many years to come.
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