from this.......... ..............to this!
Anne Renshaw was born in Berwickshire in the Scottish Borders many moons ago before most folk even had a telly and as you can see from the above photo, with the ability to wiggle her toes - she can't for the life of her do it now! She lived in Coldstream, Yetholm, Hawick, Jedburgh and then Hawick again, not because she was awfully fussy about where she lived, but due to her policeman father being given different postings. Although Edinburgh has been her home now for most of her adult life and she is very happy living there, the deep love she developed as a child for the rolling Borders countryside has never left her and she still regards herself as a Borderer at heart.
She was educated at various Borders primary schools, then Jedburgh Grammar School, Hawick High School and then Edinburgh University where she gained an MA degree. She then completed teacher training at Moray House College of Education and became a primary school teacher in Dunfermline, Fife because the new graduates’ interview queue for Fife was a lot shorter than the Edinburgh one. Having then commuted across the Forth Road Bridge for 34 years before the tolls were abolished, which happened just after she retired of course, she now reckons she’s paid for at least one of the cables, even if rather like herself, they’re a bit frayed these days!
She learned to play the statutory handful of major chords, a few minors and a seventh or two on a nylon strung guitar at the age of about 11 from a Bert Weedon book (remember those anyone?) but being a shy, wee soul she only ever sang to herself or close friends and it was more likely to be one of the Beatles’ latest songs since she was infatuated with John Lennon. Previously it had been Cliff Richard but we won’t go into that. She also loved writing long, silly poems and ‘odes’. Unfortunately she still likes doing that today.
As a student she loved the Corries and the McCalmans etc, went to folk concerts, bought LPs, which for you younger folk out there are big round things that were played on a machine called a record player, but didn’t have the nerve to go to pub sessions, which is something she really regrets now. Anyway, years passed at the blackboard jungle, (actually it was a very nice school) with just the occasional toe dipped into the folk world when a couple of times for a short while she tried Scots Music Group classes, first in acoustic guitar which she gave up when they got to ‘dropped Ds’, and mandolin which she still dabbles in occasionally when no-one is listening.
Then in 2006 the opportunity arose to take early retirement and suddenly a whole new world opened up. Anne signed up for a Scots Music Group singing class called Linten Adie and the rest is history, or at least if she ever becomes famous it might be! Years of teaching had knocked a lot of the shyness out of her so she soon found herself singing at pub sessions, getting wee gigs, entering competitions, doing floor spots etc.
Linten Adie (Anne 2nd row far left)
She didn’t at first have a big repertoire as Corries’ songs weren’t in fashion any more, so she had a go at writing her own songs and once started just couldn’t stop. Her poor husband Eric had to put up with a very untidy house and Anne getting up in the middle of the night with a new idea for a song in her head which she just HAD to write down. Out they poured, about anything and everything from shipwrecks to sheep, from Border Hills to braw, big buses and to her surprise other folk really liked them. She even won the ‘audience vote’ for ‘The Slender Tree’ at the well regarded Edinburgh Folk Club songwriting competition in 2007 and the following year got the judges 2nd prize for ‘The Tunnel at Penmanshiel’. She’s also won ‘funniest song’ thrice for ‘The Auld Folksinger’ 2008 (a subject close to her heart), ‘Creepy Crawlies’ 2009, 'Senior Moments' 2012 and ‘best song’ for ‘Underground’ in 2011 at ‘Nitten’ Folk Club. She was also invited to sing 'Underground', which is a song about her coalminer grandfather, at 'Bonnie Collier Lads and Lassies', a concert organised by Ewan McVicar, Iyaah Warren and Siobhan Miller at the National Mining Museum of Scotland in Newtongrange earlier this year. Another of Anne’s songs ‘Things to Say’ was published in 2009 in a booklet called ‘The Right to Vote An’ A’ That’ along with songs from such luminaries as Eileen Penman, Sheena Wellington, Karine Polwart etc. A highlight also for Anne in 2009 was being interviewed and having some of her songs aired on ‘The Sunday Getherin’ on Radio Borders.
In 2011, having made several of her own amateur CDs on her PC, she decided to do things properly and approached Ian McCalman about recording a ‘real’ CD at his Kevock Digital studio. The result is her 2012 debut CD 'AWAKENING', the songs on which are all her own work apart from one where she has set some Burns to her own tune. She’s thrilled to bits with the result and hopes you will be too, well at least that you’ll like it enough to buy one. She was ‘guest for the afternoon’ on Black Diamond FM earlier this year where she was interviewed about the CD and 6 of the tracks were played and in October made two further 'appearances' on East Coast FM and Generate Radio. Her parents could never understand where all this songwriting came from, but on her dad’s side is an award winning poet and writer and on her mum’s an internationally acclaimed orchestral conductor, so maybe there’s a wee something in her genes - no, NOT her jeans!
When she’s not dreaming up new songs she likes to get out and about in the hills and in winter is a keen skiier having been a season ticket holder at Cairngorm for many years and a life member of the Scottish Ski Club since the time it only cost £30 to become one - this means they can’t get rid of her. For those who have knowledge of such things, in the Renshaw household there is a fine collection of ancient skis with screw-in edges and cable bindings.
Bashing the pistes! Out on the Scottish hills
Away from the hills look out for her in her usual haunts which at the moment are Balerno and ‘Nitten’ folk clubs, Scots Music Group’s Cafe Ceilidh which she helps to run, the Linten Adie community choir where she sings low harmony, the Grey Horse (Ma Brow’s) at Balerno the first Tuesday of every month and No. 1 High Street, Edinburgh (formerly 'The Tass') most Thursday nights. She might even pop up in a pub near you if there's another session she fancies.