Glasgow charity campaigner to sing for Queen at private show

·3-min read
Michaela Foster Marsh
Michaela Foster Marsh

SINGING made Michaela Foster Marsh famous.

She toured the world, released bestselling albums and wrote for film and TV productions, including hit 90s show Dawson’s Creek.

But she hasn’t done it for a while - so what better audience to choose for a comeback concert than the Queen and assorted members of the Royal Family?

“I am absolutely terrified,” says Michaela, nervously.

“Singing was my past life. I haven’t done it in so long. Being asked to sing in front of the Queen is such a huge honour.”

Glasgow Times:
Glasgow Times:

She laughs: “So I’ve been working really hard on my vocal warm-ups, annoying all the neighbours..."

At Balmoral on August 17, Michaela - a former Glasgow Times Scotswoman of the Year - will perform a song written especially for the Queen following the death of Prince Philip.

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It has been composed by Bethany Bisaillion, Pipe Major of the Sons of Scotland Pipe Band in Canada, with help from Michaela.

Michaela met Bethany in Canada many years ago and the two became firm friends.

Glasgow Times:
Glasgow Times:

“I was working out there and used to go and see Bethany play. She was just starting out on the pipes but obviously very talented,” explains Michaela.

“She asked me to sing on her first album but at that point had no producer, no studio - we were starting from nothing but we wanted to make it work.

“I put her in touch with my producer in Canada, and recorded a song for her. It was Ye Banks and Braes, which was unusual for me, as I didn’t really do Scottish songs. But my dad had taught me this one when I was a child, so I did it. People really loved it, and the album was a success.”

The Sons of Scotland Pipe Band has performed several times for the Queen and Bethany also composed a tune for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for their visit to Canada shortly after their wedding.

In collaboration with her brother Lochie, she wrote a hornpipe called St Andrews Courtship, which the royal couple loved.

In 2018, Michaela joined Bethany for a special performance at Balmoral, the Queen’s Scottish summer home.

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“It was an amazing experience,” says Michaela.

“She spoke to me briefly afterwards, and she was really lovely.”

After Prince Philip died, Bethany contacted Michaela to tell her she had written a special song for the Queen and she wanted her friend to record and perform it.

Covid interrupted proceedings, but after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, some help from Michaela’s Canadian producer Greg Kavanagh and support from Duncan Cameron at Riverside Studios, it was done.

“So now we have been invited to perform it in front of the Queen at Balmoral,” smiles Michaela.

“No pressure. I just want to get it right.

“It is a beautiful song, called Strength and Stay, all about their love for each other. Philip was always the Queen’s ‘right hand man’."

The day will be especially emotional for Michaela, as it will be the first time she has sung in public since the death of her partner Rony Bridges. Rony, a well-known actor, died in 2019 from lung cancer.

Glasgow Times:
Glasgow Times:

Rony helped Michaela run Starchild, the charity she founded to support some of Uganda’s poorest children.

Michaela’s adopted brother Frankie, who died in a house fire in Govanhill at the age of 26, was from Uganda, and she has written a book about her efforts to find his birth family.

Glasgow Times:
Glasgow Times:

Rony fundraised tirelessly to build a school for the creative arts in Uganda, and a Sunflower Sanctuary, a new Starchild project supporting children with autism and disabilities, will open there in his memory later this year.

“I miss him, especially at times like this because he always got me through these things, he was my absolute rock,” says Michaela.

“I keep thinking about Rony and my parents, and Frankie, and wondering what they would think of this. I know my mum would have been beside herself.

“It’s such a shame none of them are here to see it.

"But I know they’ll all be with me in spirit.”