Karen Dietz: Remembering the Indy Choir

Ben Wray

Contributing to our week of coverage marking five years since indyref, Karen Dietz of the Indy Choir explains how the group got started and it’s involvement in the 2014 Yes campaign

AS A MUSICIAN and leader of choirs I wanted to do something to advance the cause of Scottish independence. I didn’t think I would be any good at knocking on doors. Then it came to me – I would start an independence choir. 

I didn’t want the choir to sing protest songs; I gathered together some positive, forward-looking, uplifting songs that brought to mind the love of Scotland and our aspirations for independence. 

The idea was to campaign by adding joyful singing to the spoken word, the speeches and rhetoric. Further, there would be independence choirs all over Scotland!  We would have a number of songs in common so that we could perform them at indy events large and small, and individual  choirs could have their own repertoire as well as our songs in common. 

GET INVOLVED: Indyref at 5: Contribute to our special week of coverage 16-20 September

Well, it didn’t quite work out that way. We ended up with one Edinburgh-based choir and a satellite choir in Perthshire.

But it was wonderful. There were a variety of folk, some who came and went, some who stayed. One who stayed was Irene Railley, the leader of Edinburgh’s SongWorks choir, who brought a song or two and led the choir while I was on holiday.  Another member contributed beautiful arrangements of songs.  We sang in three and four-part harmony mostly in Edinburgh, sometimes at indy events, at the entrance to Waverley Station, up and down Leith Walk, in the streets, sometimes just for the joy of being part of the Summer of Indy.

READ MORE: In Defence of 2014 – in defence of popular democracy

We were never hugely famous (it’s not my style), but we were approached by Matt Seattle with a lovely, perfect arrangement of his and David Finnie’s song Theme For The Early Days Of A Better Nation (which would make a fab national anthem for Scotland in my opinion), and we were invited to take part in a pro-independence parody video by Lady Alba – in real life Dr. Zara Gladman. 

Just brilliant. 

Picture of the Indy Choir, courtesy of Robb McRae