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Piper Louise releases first album

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By Charlotte MacKay
Piper Louise releases first album

SCOTLAND’S National Piper is releasing her debut CD this week, including tunes inspired by her native Dumfries and Galloway.

Originally from Eastriggs, Louise Marshall has gone on to pipe at some of the world’s biggest events as an ambassador for Scottish culture, and she counts figures including the Queen and the Pope among her high-profile audience members.

But with lockdown effectively putting her diary on hold, she has finally found the time to release her first album, which she describes as a celebration of her piping life and a tribute to her talented family.

She said: “My dad, William Marshall, was the piper at Gretna Green for 44 years. Sadly he passed away in 1999, but I’m still playing his 110-year-old Robertson pipes and they sound as sweet as ever.

“My sister Sharon used to accompany my dad Highland dancing and my brothers, Paul and Sean, are both pipers – when I started I practised so hard because I wanted to be like them. My great uncle Jock actually piped troops over the trenches in WWII and my CD is coming out on VE Day, so that is very special.”

From her earliest gigs performing alongside her dad, Louise went on to be appointed Piper to the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, official piper for Hibernian FC and resident piper on ITV’s This Morning. She recorded the CD two years ago, but the release was delayed by her packed schedule of performances which took her as far afield as Miami and Shanghai.

She said: “I turned 50 last year and just said ‘right, you’ve been piping 41 years, it’s time to get this CD out’. It’s part of my 50th birthday celebrations, and it’s my mum Jean’s 80th birthday next week so it’s an early birthday present for her too.”

FAMILY TIES . . . Louise, aged nine, pipng alongside her father at Gretna Green

The CD, entitled Welcome to Scotland, combines traditional tunes with some of Louise’s own compositions. Among them are pieces dedicated to her father and her two children, Rory and Iona, as well as a tune called The Solway Shore inspired by childhood memories of days out with her family.

She continued: “I decided when I was making the CD that it was going to be tunes that people have always asked me to play over the years, tunes that mean a lot to me. I’m really pleased with it, it turned into an autobiographical CD with history about me, my family and the tunes, and it comes with a little booklet so it’s a really nice thing to keep.”

With all her usual performances and workshops on hold during lockdown, Louise is instead using her talents to bring music to the streets of Leith in Edinburgh, where she now lives.

She said: “This Thursday will be my seventh week playing after Clap for Carers and my neighbours have said it is the highlight of their week, I’ve even started getting requests. I cannot wait to get back out doing what I do best, promoting out Scottish culture all over the world, but in the meantime I’m so proud to be piping for our amazing frontline workers and doing something for my community at this time.”

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Lead picture by Jane Barlow

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