Fiona Kennedy on her new album, American influences and celebrating Scotland

Scots entertainer Fiona Kennedy releases Time to Fly this week (Laurence Winram)
Scots entertainer Fiona Kennedy releases Time to Fly this week (Laurence Winram)


PRODUCING her first solo album in a decade was a bit special for well-known Scots entertainer Fiona Kennedy.

She just wishes the track that started it all had been a bit more enthusiastically received by her husband!

Time To Fly, the new album released on Friday, saw Fiona working with award-winning singer-songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman.

“It all began when I wrote a lyric and then had the idea of giving a song to Francis for our 30th wedding anniversary,” Fiona told iN10.

“That was the start of the whole project. I went across to Nashville and collaborated with Beth on it.

“It’s called Who Would Have Thought? and the whole focus was getting it ready for the big day, November 9 last year.

“I really wanted to surprise Francis with it and we had this big family gathering. My friends all thought it was a really lovely song and I remember my auntie was crying.

“After it had been played Francis stood up and said, ‘Well, that was very commendable’.

“Everyone thought it was so funny because they all knew the lengths I’d gone to to make it the very best it could be for the occasion.

“Francis is in the fishing industry in Aberdeen and I just think he was so taken aback on the night he didn’t know what to say.”

Fiona, 60, got her head down, including with other collaborators, and she says the resulting work might just surprise people.

“It’s not really like anything I’ve done before,” she admits. “It has a bit of a different sound which I’d say is a bit like Celtic meets Americana.

“And every song on the album has a story to it.

“I started writing one, for example, when I was out in Malawi. I was singing at a Burns Supper but also doing some work with a charity I’m a patron of that tackles famine.

“And another of the songs, the single Down The Line, came as a result of a lunch I attended being addressed by Professor Sue Black.

“She obviously deals with the dead and therefore sees so many people who don’t get to realise their ambition or their dream.

“They decide to put it off until they retire or until some later stage.

“So the message was really about not delaying things you want to do.

“It doesn’t matter what age or stage. If you want to do it, then go ahead and fly with it.

“There must have been 500 women at that lunch who skipped out at the end fired up to do things because she really was so inspiring.”

The American influences on the new album are unsurprising as Fiona has spent plenty of time on the other side of the Atlantic.

She has done lots of singing and also worked on a long-running series called Highland Heartbeat.

“I must have made around 100 programmes for PBS America all about Scotland.

“I loved being able to celebrate Scotland like that.”

Fiona was a TV presenter for many years with BBC favourite Record Breakers, working alongside the multi-talented Roy Castle and Norris McWhirter.

“Roy was so inspirational. He could sing, dance, play instruments. He really was the consummate entertainer.

“I loved my time doing that and some of the records people were tackling were so bizarre.

“I remember on one occasion this strongman wanted to prove he could stop two planes taking off.

“He was holding on to the ropes between them and I had to dash in there with a microphone and interview him as they were revving up.

“I mean, what could possibly go wrong!”

Fiona says one of her proudest moments was being given an OBE for her services to music and charity in 2014.

“When the envelope dropped through the letterbox I got a bit panicky because I thought it was something to do with my tax return,” she adds.

“But I was absolutely gobsmacked and thrilled. I got to go to Holyrood to collect it from the Queen. I’m just as delighted and proud now as I was then.”

Fiona Kennedy: Time To Fly, Out now