About Burnsong

Burnsong came together as a national body in 2003, in collaboration with Dumfries and Galloway Arts Association. At the time, the Scottish Parliament, local Galloway and Ayrshire MPs and MSPs, and local authorities in south west Scotland were looking for a powerful, creative and contemporary way to celebrate the wide ranging artistic legacy of Robert Burns. Through Scotland-wide consultation with songwriters, broadcasters, music producers and representative music bodies, Burnsong emerged with the purpose of developing the art of contemporary songwriting in all its many forms.

Burnsong is a registered charity managed by an experienced Board of Trustees:

Ronnie Gurr - music industry consultant (Chair)

Jenny Wilson - former Artistic Director of DGAA (Secretary)

Shirley Bell - former Chief Executive of The World Burns Federation

Kim Edgar - songwriter & former winner of The Gathering

Jamie Gilmour - Scottish Music Information Centre

Frank Marstokk - European Director, North American Folk Alliance

David Scott - songwriter & lecturer at University of Western Scotland

To date we have been funded by the Scottish Government and the former Scottish Arts Council. We are currently looking to secure future funding and have a comprehensive business plan.

More information about our CORE PROJECTS  so far:


The Gathering search for new songwriting talent has given many emerging artists a unique platform to develop their craft and their careers.  And it’s supported the creation of new songs in English, Gaelic and Scots. Just a few of our success stories:

2005 winner Kim Edgar took part in the professional writer’s Songhouse in 2006, released a critically acclaimed solo album in 2007 and  is now a member of genre hopping music collective The Burns Unit, which emerged directly from Burnsong.

2007 winner David Ferrard is about to record his third solo album of political folk songs and now tours nationally.

“Burnsong was a great opportunity to meet other songwriters and to collaborate musically.  It has led to new friendships and collaborations, which have been invaluable to my career.” David Ferrard

2007 winner Stevie Palmer and 2005 winner Alex Hodgson have both secured a debut album deal with Scotland’s premier folk label Greentrax.

“Burnsong provided such amazingly positive momentum in relation to my songwriting aspirations.  I hope very, very much that others will benefit similarly in the future from the chance to take part.” Stevie Palmer

2007 winners Mairi Campbell and Dave Francis were already well-established on the traditional music scene (Mairi is a former winner of Scots Tad Singer of the Year at The Scots Trad Awards). Now their repertoire includes their own material as well as traditional songs.

“Burnsong was a great validation of what we were trying to do with our work. Apart from anything else it helped us to feel OK about describing ourselves as songwriters.” Dave Francis


The Burnsong Songhouse project has brought together some of Scotland’s best known and loved songwriters, from a wide range of musical backgrounds. Participants have included Midge Ure, Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake and Idlewild’s Roddy Woomble, award winning folk singers Emily Smith and Karine Polwart, writers with jazz backgrounds such as Niki King and Sophie Bancroft, internationally renowned dubstepper  MC Soom T, Ziggy Campbell of the BAFTA award winning experimental FOUND collective, The Fence Collective’s King Creosote, and Indo-Caledonian popster Future Pilot AKA.

The 2006 Songhouse led directly to the creation of a new band: The Burns Unit. 7 of the 8 writers involved that year - Emma Pollock, Future Pilot AKA, Karine Polwart, Kim Edgar, King Creosote, MC Soom T and Michael Johnston - joined with drummer/producer Mattie Foulds in an ongoing collaborative musical adventure inspired by Burnsong. Their 2010 album “Sideshow” has won rave reviews in the national press. More info at http://www.theburnsunitband.com

“The nurturing and opportunities I was awarded through Burnsong have developed my level of confidence enormously as a songwriter and performer. Invaluable.” Sophie Bancroft, Songhouse 2005

“Burnsong has been an ideal platform for exchanging ideas and building a deeper appreciation of my fellow artists.” Future Pilot AKA, Songhouse 2006

“It has been absolutely fascinating watching other writers work and learning from their own approaches and styles.” Emma Pollock, Songhouse 2006

“The experience I had gave me confidence in my own songwriting and the chance to collaborate with other writers, which I previously hadn’t done.” Emily Smith, Songhouse 2005