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MARGARET BENNETT & DORIS ROUGVIE - Nell Hannah: Aye Singin An Spinnin Yarns

MARGARET BENNETT & DORIS ROUGVIE - Nell Hannah: Aye Singin An Spinnin Yarns
Gracenote Publications ISBN: 9781907676383

Compiled from a series of interviews with mill girl and singer Nell Hannah, who sadly passed away in December 2013, Margaret and Doris have produced a fascinating slice of social history from a larger than life character.

Nell was born in Turriff, Aberdeenshire in 1920 and the songs are interwoven with tales of life in the mills as well as events in Nell's life. Turriff, or 'Turra', is locally famous for its 'coo' and now has a 'coo' sculpture in the town centre and Jim Douglas' comic song/poem was a real 'natural' for Nell, to go with other local songs like The Auld Turra Cronies. For outsiders like me, the Turra Coo mystery is explained in the book and is also on one of her CDs. She was Aye Spinnin Yarns, as per the book title, but Nell's singing career began in her late 60s and she made the last of her five CDs, Young At Heart, around the age of 90! (All are available from Gracenote Publications).

This is a book of mostly traditional Scots songs, but much more than that - the songs are part of the traditional life of the region and an understanding of that context is essential if we are to fully appreciate that heritage, now and in the future.

Margaret Bennett collated the book from her own interviews over the years and it's illustrated by Doris Rougvie. Certainly both are to be congratulated on a valuable addition to the tradition and if you want to know about the life and songs of an amazing lady, this little volume (130pp) is for you.

Jim Bainbridge

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This album was reviewed in Issue 100 of The Living Tradition magazine.