Stanley Robertson (folk singer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Stanley Robertson
Stanley Robertson.jpg
Stanley Robertson telling a story at the Barrie Nicht in Aberdeen Arts Centre, 26 January 2004
William Stanley Robertson

8 June 1940
Aberdeen, Scotland
Died2 August 2009
Aberdeen, Scotland
Resting placeOld Lumphanan Kirkyard, Aberdeenshire
OccupationSinger, songwriter, storyteller
Years active1950s–2009
Spouse(s)Johnanne Robertson
ChildrenAnthony, Clifford, Dale, Gabrielle, Nicole and Robert

Stanley Robertson (8 June 1940 – 2 August 2009[1]) was a Scottish storyteller, ballad singer, and piper.

He was born in Aberdeen in 1940[2] into a Traveller family which had settled there. His family background was rich in tradition, and from his aunt, folk singer Jeannie Robertson, he inherited a huge repertoire of northeast ballads.[3] He was the keyworker for the Heritage Lottery-funded "Oral and Cultural Traditions of Scottish Travellers" project at the Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen, from April 2002 until April 2005.[4]

As an acknowledged expert and member of the Traveller community, Robertson documented his own lore and that of other members of this group, and promoted the cultural traditions of Scottish Travellers among young people in schools and community groups. Stanley's storytelling was affected by the different trades at which he worked, including his long years spent filleting in the Aberdeen fish houses, where he gathered many contemporary stories.[5]

In June 2003, he represented the University of Aberdeen and Scotland at the Smithsonian Institution's Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C.[6]

He published three successful plays and seven books, some written in his local Scots dialect. He was featured in more than 100 radio programmes and 50 television appearances and made numerous personal appearances on stage and in theatres, schools and colleges.[7]

On 27 November 2008, at age 68, Stanley Robertson, who was an Honorary Research Associate at the University of Aberdeen's Elphinstone Institute, was conferred an honorary degree of Master of the University (MUniv), in recognition for the work he had done.[8]

He was a frequent broadcaster and appeared regularly at storytelling festivals. He was an Honorary Founder of the Scottish Storytelling Forum.[9] Stanley died at his home in Aberdeen on Sunday, 2 August 2009.

A musical about Robertson's life by Kyle Jarrow and Bright Lights, Big City composer Paul Scott Goodman tentatively titled Reek Roon is currently under development, reportedly commissioned by Fela! producer Steve Hendel.

In 2016, in memory of Robertson's significant influence as a storyteller, the Grampian Association of Storytellers commissioned the 'Stanley Robertson Award for Traditional Storytelling' to be given out at the Aberdeen Traditional Music and Song Association's yearly competitions. The trophy was created by glassmaker Shelagh Swanson and its first winner was Jane Chalmers.


  1. ^ "Obituaries – Stanley Robertson". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  2. ^ Robertson, Stanley (1988). Exodus to Alford. Nairn: Balnain Books. p. 214. ISBN 0-9509792-6-0.
  3. ^ Robertson, Stanley (1989). Nyakim's Windows. Nairn: Balnain Books. p. 212. ISBN 0-9509792-7-9.
  4. ^ "Former Associates – Stanley Robertson". Elphinstone Institute. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  5. ^ Robertson, Stanley (1990). Fish-Hooses. Nairn: Balnain Books. p. 7. ISBN 1-872557-01-5.
  6. ^ "Events – The 37th Smithsonian Folklife Festival". Elphinstone Institute. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  7. ^ "Obituaries – Stanley Robertson". The Scotsman. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  8. ^ "Former Associates – Stanley Robertson". Elphinstone Institute. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  9. ^ "Obituaries – Stanley Robertson". The Scotsman.

External links[edit]