TradYES: Looking Back, Looking Forward


“Tradition is a story, learned from the past, told in the present, looking to the future”
— Gary West, Voicing Scotland (2012)

In July we launched TradYES as ‘the beginning of a new story.’ Since then it has been fantastic to see such growing numbers from within the traditional arts community visibly getting behind a Yes vote. Tradyes itself now has well over 1000 followers and our traditional artists are swelling the growing membership of National Collective. We saw Yes badges a-plenty on the lapels at the recent Scots Trad Music Awards, the high profile celebration of traditional music in all its forms. It is the role of National Collective to make visible this burgeoning support and to create a platform for all of these voices to be heard in this campaign.

At times of change we have always looked to the traditional arts. Scotland’s traditional artists have burst into life at particular historical periods to transform and renew the cultural landscape, influencing every other aspect of culture – from the visual arts, to music, to fiction and poetry. Cultural revivalism has been a mainstay of Scottish cultural ecology since the 18th century: will 2014 be a year of cultural renaissance?

Here we take a look back at 2013 to see how far we’ve come!

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TradYES had its first outing at September’s March and Rally on Calton Hill. Over 50 musicians, singers and dancers travelled to Edinburgh all the way from the Borders in the south to the Highlands and Islands in the North and West. With a (very!) quick rehearsal in the tent behind main stage, our performers took the rally platform.

Alongside a generation of younger and older players, TradYES represented some of the best and most critically acclaimed musicians in Scotland today, with members from Blazin Fiddles, Breabach, Cruinn and Treacherous Orchestra as well as a fantastic crowd of traditional singing stalwarts.

Scots and Gaelic singers came together in one voice to sing Hamish Henderson’s internationalist Scots language anthem ‘Freedom come Aa Ye.’ This song describes a wind of change blowing through Scotland and the world at large, sweeping away exploitation and imperialism. It renounces the tradition of the Scottish soldier both as imperial cannon-fodder and colonial oppressor and ends with a vision of a future global society which is multiracial and just. Robert Burns’ ‘A Man’s A Man’ was led by doyen of the traditional singing world, Sheena Wellington, who ceremoniously opened the devolved Scottish parliament in 1999 with this same song of egalitarian values and hope.

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“Bha an cruinneachadh cho tlachdmhor agus bha e air leth math a bhith cuide ri seinneadairean a’ seinn sa Ghàidhlig agus ann an Albais còmhla le aon ghuth. Bu chòir dhuinn gluasad air adhart ann an Alba le aon ghuth a’ guidhe gun bhotadh a h-ule duine YES, no Bu Chòir!

It was a gathering so full of enjoyment and it was wonderful to be with singers singing in Gaelic and in Scots together with one voice. Everyone in Scotland should move forward together with one voice to secure a YES vote.”
— Arthur Cormack

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“Bha là sònraichte math agam. Gu h-àraid, chòrd an ceòl, an craic agus na h-òraidean rium. Agus – tha tuilleadh ri tighinn – tha bliadhna eile de spòrs, ceòl agus obair ri dhèanamh mus a bhòt ann an 2014.

It was a very special day for me. I especially enjoyed the music, singing and crack. And there is more to come: another year of fun, music and work to do until the vote in 2014!”
— Rona Wilkie

“Lørdagens markering var en fantastisk opplevelse. Det var stort å stå på scena sammen med resten av tradYES-gjengen, og å virkelig føle at jeg var en del av felleskapet. Det var mange flotte taler, men det som var mest inspirerende var å se hvor stort oppmøte det var, og hvor mange det er som tror på et selvstendig Skottland.

Saturday was a fantastic experience. It was great to stand on the stage together with the TradYES crew, and to really feel that I am a part of the community. There were many great speeches, but what was most inspiring was to see how large the attendance was, and how many there are who believe in an independent Scotland”
— Marit Falt

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“Great to see anger at the current state of affairs being vented in a passionate, articulate, and entirely peaceful manner. Great craic too!”
— Adam Sutherland

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“Latha iongantach. Cho toilichte gu robh mi comhla ruibh. Mile taing.

It was a wonderful day. So happy to be with alongside you.Thank you! ”
— Dolina MacLennan

“What an amazing day. Great speeches full of hope, optimism and a real sense of a collective and empowered voice for Scotland: a county who puts ‘BAIRNS BEFORE BOMBS.’ So amazing to be part of it all.”
— Sophie Stephenson

Thanks to: Steve Byrne, Rona Wilkie, Chris Wright, Sheena Wellington, Allan Henderson, Megan Henderson, Arthur Cormack,  Adam Sutherland, Dolina MacLennan, Ewan Mackenzie Robertson, Nuala Kennedy, Roddy MacDonald, Mary McCann, Lori Watson, Lucy Pringle, Kirsty Law, Maureen Morris, Marit Falt, Brian Miller, Sophie Stephenson, Brian OhEadhra, Bria Mason, George Duff,  Amy Dawson, Margaret Anderson, Alan Hunter, Leo Miklasz, Sandy Watson, Rob Gibson, Alistair Cassidy, Dave Leslie, Becky Leach, Eddie Reader, Andy Fraser, Barbara Darcy, Barnaby Dellar, Chris Silver, Fergus Walker, James MacDonald Reid, Kathryn Wilkie, Jill Baxter, Liam Crouse, Gill Simpson, Zarya Rathe, Mhairi Law, Archie MacFarlane, Stuart McHardy, Mairi McFadyen, Simon Baker.

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What next for TradYES? We have big plans for 2014. We will be launching an exciting new project inspired by our colourful Wish Tree Project, inviting artists to create new material inspired by our collective imagination and wishes for the future.