b. 1917 d. 2012
Harriet was born at Saltness, Whalsay. Her father John Irvine was popularly known as “Glibey” and was well known for his musical skills in the old Shetland fiddle tradition and so from an early age Harriet became familiar with the old Whalsay style of fiddle music as well as the old songs that were sung at weddings and other social gatherings.
Her love of music was further developed as a school child in the 1920’s when she was a pupil at Livister School. At that time the headmaster was James C Smith from Unst who was an able musician who played the violin and taught the schoolchildren music – almost unheard of back then. He even took adult singing classes and developed a popular choir.
During fund raising for a new public hall at Symbister in the late 1920’s Harriet and her contemporaries assisted by taking part in concerts under the guidance of J. C. Smith.
For many years following, local concert parties were a source of entertainment and for raising funds for local causes and Harriet would always be ready to assist. Many hours would be spent at 30 Gardentown, with the cast practising their songs and their lines for the humorous short sketches that would be in the program.
Harriet enjoyed singing. She would be asked to sing at Burn’s Suppers, wedding receptions and other social events on the Isle; she always believed in keeping alive these old musical traditions. She was also a member of the Whalsay Church Choir for over 60 years. Nevertheless we recorded only one song from Harriet:- Baabie Murray.
Our thanks go to Andy Sandison, Harriet’s son, for this biographical note.
We only recorded one song from Harriet – a lovely version of Baabie Murray .