The Singing Kettle

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The Singing Kettle
SingingKettle.png
Background information
Origin Kingskettle, Scotland
Genres Folk music, Comedy music, Children's songs
Years active 1982–2015
Labels Kettle Productions
Associated acts Motormark, FANGS, Funbox
Website http://www.singingkettle.com
Past members Cilla Fisher
Artie Trezise
Gary Coupland
Jane Fisher
Kevin McLeod
Anya Scott-Rodgers
Notable instruments
Accordion, Keyboard, Trombone, Guitar

The Singing Kettle were a BAFTA award-winning[1] Scottish folk music and entertainment group who were perhaps best known for performing traditional children's songs along with their various live theatre performances. Originally from the village of Kingskettle in Fife, Scotland, they were formed by established folk singers Cilla Fisher and Artie Trezise, eventually being joined by musician Gary Coupland. In 2012, founding members Cilla and Artie retired from performing with the group, and three years later in 2015 the group performed their last live shows. For their services to the entertainment industry Cilla, Artie and Gary were all made MBEs.

Career[edit]

Husband and wife Cilla Fisher and Artie Trezise started touring as a folk singing duo in the mid-1970s.

The group name "The Singing Kettle" came about in 1982. Their first venture under this title was a children's album, featuring everything from traditional Scottish rhymes to songs learned on their folk tour of the USA. For certain tracks, real children were used, including their daughter Jane, creating the first set of "Kettle Kids".

The idea came of turning "The Singing Kettle" album into a show, as they were unimpressed by other, few, children's theatre shows at the time. The show toured to primary schools, with the idea of clues for songs found inside kettles, and for this they recruited their friend, musician Gary Coupland. The touring show eventually developed into a more plot-led piece of musical theatre and they began performing in large scale theatres across the country. Over the years the Singing Kettle have presented their own specially written shows including The Boogie Woogie Zoo, The Time Machine, Pirates, Wild West Show, Medieval Madness, World Tour, Funny Farm, and Homemade Band. Additionally some of their shows have raised awareness of important topics, notably road safety (Busy Road Show), good dental hygiene (Tooth Happy Songs) and pollution (one of the Adventures in Kettleland episodes).

They were joined for a time by Cilla and Artie's daughter, Jane, who left to be in the electro band Motormark, replaced by Kevin McLeod – the former company stage manager. In 2003 Smithsonian Folkways Recordings released The Singing Kettle: Singalong Songs from Scotland, the group's first recording to be widely distributed outside the United Kingdom.[2]

Alongside being performers, The Singing Kettle sang the theme song to a Scottish TV series for children, cartoon programme Meeow!, which ran from 2000–2002. Meeow! was latterly shown on wknd@stv in 2009.

Aside from their several albums of traditional children's music, The Singing Kettle has also released several DVDs and made five television series with BBC Scotland and two television series with Scottish Television. They also tour regularly throughout the United Kingdom, performing their highly successful stage show. They have performed command performances before both Prince Charles and Jordan's royal family. The three founding members of The Singing Kettle (Cilla, Artie, and Gary) have each been honored with the MBE. There was a Singing Kettle Shop in Kingskettle which sold all sorts of different merchandise, as well as being home to the company offices.

The group announced in October 2012 that they were auditioning for a new permanent member. Later that month they announced that Cilla and Artie were retiring from performing and would continue to work on writing and behind the scenes. Gary and Kevin were joined by Anya Scott-Rodgers.

In September 2014, the group announced that the 'Big Christmas Party' show would be their final tour, and that they would be breaking up in February 2015 after 32 years.[3] The group performed their last show in Aberdeen on February 15, 2015.[4] Kevin, Gary and Anya are continuing to work together in a group called 'Funbox'.

Cast[edit]

Cilla Fisher[edit]

(Songwriter/Producer/Director)

Cilla Fisher MBE (born 26 September 1952) made her musical debut on BBC Radio Scotland at the age of 9. She started performing with Artie in 1974. In the shows, Cilla played the character of Maw. She still occasionally sings solo in pubs and clubs for adults.

Her brother, Archie, and sister, Ray, both made a smash in the folk music industry when they were young.[5] Ray died in 2011 and Archie remains one of the most respected figures in Scottish folk music. Cilla retired as a performer in the show, along with Artie, at the end of the 'Fairytale Castle' tour in February 2013.

Artie Trezise[edit]

(Producer/Managing Director)

Artie Trezise MBE (born 3 April 1947) left his teaching job to tour in pubs and clubs in Scotland as a folk singer. He started performing with Cilla in 1974. In the shows, Artie played Willie and Jeremy.

In other work, he gives talks to American tourists and Danish school teachers about The Singing Kettle's work.[6] He retired as a performer in February 2013.

Gary Coupland[edit]

Gary Coupland MBE (born 26 March 1964) was the musician for the group. He plays at social functions and weddings, and played for Prince Charles.

He joined "Cilla & Artie" for a Scottish tour thence starting The Singing Kettle.[7]

Gary has been providing entertainment and music for a host of occasions such as weddings, family parties, schools, corporate events, tea dances, ceilidhs, themed nights and cabaret throughout the central area of Scotland for the past twenty five years.

Being the band's accompanist, Gary is well known as The Singing Kettle's own Music Man [8] and he received an MBE in 1999. He is also the patron of Down Syndrome Scotland.

Jane Fisher[edit]

Jane Fisher (born c. 1973) is daughter to Cilla and Artie. She had worked as a backing vocalist on some of The Singing Kettle's LP's and albums before joining the group as a front in 1995. She left the band after the "Winter Wonderland Tour" in 2002 to join Motormark and is now in FANGS.

Kevin Macleod[edit]

Kevin Macleod (born 9 March 1969) worked as The Singing Kettle's stage manager for years before joining the group.

Kevin first appeared in the 2001 Christmas tour 'Winter Wonderland' and can be heard on the cassette. This was a cross-over show, that also featured Jane prior to her departure. This was the only time there were 5 members in the show at once.

He later joined the group for their "Jungle Party Tour" in 2002 and was in the group until its closure in 2015. Kevin also played the characters of Bonzo, Henry and Jock during the shows.[9]

Anya Scott-Rodgers[edit]

Anya Scott-Rodgers (born c. 1987) joined the group upon the retirement of Cilla and Artie as performers in the show. Anya was auditioned from hundreds of applicants from all over the world and became the new face of the Singing Kettle.

Characters[edit]

Willie, Henry and Maw[edit]

Willie and Maw (played by Artie Trezise and Cilla Fisher) started during the 90's in "cutaway" scenes from the group on their stage and TV shows. Willie and Maw were highlights of The Singing Kettle's tours until the 2002 line-up change, when Willie's "long lost brother" Henry (played by Kevin Macleod) arrived and Maw was dropped from the shows. Willie and Henry haven't been seen since the "Christmas Pyjama Party Tour" in the 2009/10 Christmas season show.

Bonzo[edit]

Bonzo the Dog (played by Kevin Macleod) is the "pet" of the group who first appeared in "The Homemade Band Show" as an angry next door neighbour. After the success of The Homemade Band Show and the interest in the character of Bonzo, he returned for "The Jungle Party" and went on to appear in all following shows.

Bonzo has become a favourite with The Singing Kettle's fans. He was made into a toy and it was a bestseller in the groups merchandise. A collection of Bonzo's appearances on the tours, along with special recordings was released on DVD in 2005.

The character of Bonzo continues to appear in Gary, Kevin and Anya's new show, 'Funbox'.

Jock and Jeremy[edit]

Jock and Jeremy (also played by Artie Trezise and Kevin Macleod) replaced Willie and Henry for the "Boogie Woogie Zoo" tour (and onwards) as two chefs. Following Trezise's retirement as a performer, Macleod continued to play Jock until the final tour in 2015.

TV series[edit]

The Television series was commissioned by BBC Scotland after visiting the group performing in Dunfermline in 1988.[10] When Liz Scott the director of the series showed Anna Home BBC Head of Children’s programmes she did not believe it would travel south of the border. She thought it was "too couthie and very Scottish".[11]

BBC produced five series of The Singing Kettle between 1989 and 1993, which featured the original band members, Cilla, Artie and Gary.

In 1995, the group starred in The Singing Kettle News for Scottish Television which was followed by 'The Singing Kettle Show' in 2000. These two series also featured Jane, in addition to the original three members. In 2016, the series produced for Scottish Television began airing on STV Glasgow and STV Edinburgh as part of their 'Wean's World' children's programming strand.

"Spout, handle, lid of metal..."[edit]

"Spout, handle, lid of metal, What's inside the Singing Kettle?" was created by Cilla Fisher just before the BBC came to visit the group perform in Dunfermline in 1988, as they believed they needed something for the BBC.[10] The rhyme has been used in every show for selected songs on the playlist, however there have been exceptions.

One exception was in the 1991 Christmas Cracker Show for the BBC, where song clues were in giant crackers (with a kettle shaped card attached bearing a riddle with clues to what is inside) and this sentence was chanted by Cilla and Artie over the Singing Kettle rhyme's backing music (where the children join in is denoted in bold): "Well, there's only one way for us to find out, so as loud as you can... everyone shout... crack the cracker!" However the original rhyme was used in part three of backstage commentary where Artie, Cilla and Gary were retrieving their Christmas presents from Father Christmas, which were placed inside a kettle.

Another exception was in the mid-1990s 'Singing Kettle News' shows for Scottish Television where the rhyme was used at the end shortly before the closing credits in each episode, to retrieve the newspapers that had been put together that episode.

Discography[edit]

  • 1979 - Cilla and Artie Topic
  • 1982 - The Singing Kettle
  • 1985 - The Singing Kettle 2
  • 1987 - The Singing Kettle 3
  • 1989 - The Singing Kettle 4

Videos[edit]

  • 1990 - The Singing Kettle BBC Video
  • 1991 - The Singing Kettle 2 BBC Video
  • 1992 - The Singing Kettle 3 BBC Video
  • 1992 - The Singing Kettle Christmas Crackers BBC Video
  • 1993 - Adventures in Kettle Land (BBC Video)
  • 1994 - Very Best of the Singing Kettle (BBC Video)
  • 1994 - World Tour
  • 1995 - Pirates
  • 1996 - Christmas Party
  • 1997 - The Singing Kettle News
  • 1997 - The Busy Roadshow
  • Sing All About It
  • 1998 - Best Loved Singalong Songs
  • Get up and Go
  • 2001 - Silly Circus
  • 2002 - Homemade Band Show
  • 2003 - Toytown
  • Merry Christmas Show
  • Jungle Party
  • 2003 - Medieval Madness
  • 2004 - Deep Sea Adventures



In 2009 Blue Bleezin' Blind Drunk sung by Cilla from Cilla and Artie was included in Topic Records 70 year anniversary boxed set Three Score and Ten as track six on the fourth CD.

Live shows[edit]

Year Title of Show Notes
1986 "Scotch Broth" Various venues in Stirling, including Macrobert Arts Centre[12][13]
1989 "The Singing Kettle at Christmas" Byre Theatre, St Andrews
1990 "Down in the Jungle"
"Crackers at Christmas"
1991 "Street Party"
"Inspector Parrot and the Big Green Planet"
1992 "Wild West Show"
1993 "The Boogie Woogie Zoo"
"World Tour" First Live Video in 1994.
Loosely inspired by Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days.
World Tour logo is a homage of the Universal Studios 1920s logo.
"Christmas Kettle Show" Exclusive to Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
"Christmas in Kettleland" Exclusive to Glasgow SECC.
1994 "Down in the Jungle"
"Time Machine"
"Giant Christmas Present" Exclusive to Glasgow SECC.
1995 "Pirates!" As Seen on Scottish Television.
"Christmas Party" First appearance of Jane.
Exclusive to Glasgow SECC.
As Seen on Scottish Television.
1996 "Wild West Show" Remake (1992 show)
"Seaside Special"
"Christmas Wishes" Exclusive to Glasgow SECC.
1997 "Party Time"
"Busy Road Show" As Seen on Border Television.
"Jingle Bells" Exclusive to Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
1998 "The Big Band Show"
"World Tour" Remake (1993 show)
"Santa's Musical Workshop"
1999 "Funny Farm"
"Millennium Christmas Party"
2000 "Homemade Band Show" First appearance of Bonzo.
"Pirates at Christmas"
2001 "Pirates!" Remake (1995 show)
"Silly Circus"
"Winter Wonderland" Last appearance of Jane and Maw, and first appearance of Kevin [Both appear on Winter Wonderland Cassette]
2002 "Jungle Party" First filmed appearance of Kevin and Henry.
"Toytown" Filmed at His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen
2003 "Medieval Madness" First show released on DVD.
"Merry Christmas Show"
2004 "Deep Sea Adventures"
"Santa's Big Surprise"
2005 "Blast Off" Last show to be released on Video.
"Christmas Magic"
2006 "Magic Shop"
"Old MacDonald's Farm"
"Christmas Wonderland"
2007 "Wild West Show" Remake (1992 and 1996 show)
"Party Time" Remake (1997 show)
2008 "Pirate Island"
"Christmas Toyshop"
2009 "Magical Toyshop"
"Boogie Woogie Zoo" First appearance of Jock and Jeremy.
Remake (1993 show)
"Christmas Pyjama Party"
2010 "Pyjama Party" Last appearance of Willie and Henry.
"Calamity Castle"
"Silly Songs"
"Pirate Party" Exclusive to Shetland and Orkney.
"Fun Factory"
2011 "The Funny Farm" Remake (1999 show)
"Farmyard Party" / "Pirate Party"
"Christmas Fancy Dress Party"
2012 "Fancy Dress Party"
"Shake Rattle And Roll"
"Fairytale Christmas" / "Fairytale Castle" Last appearance of Cilla and Artie.
Last Christmas show to be released on DVD.
2013 "Rumble in the Jungle" First appearance of Anya and Pom Pom
"Magic Wishing Well"
2014 "Fantastic Funfair" Last show to be released on DVD
"The Big Christmas Party" Last Ever Tour
2015 "The Big Party" Last Ever Singing Kettle Show

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "ging Kettle to finally run out of steam after 30 years". www.heraldscotland.com. Herald Scotland. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  2. ^ "Smithsonian Folkways - Singalong Songs From Scotland - The Singing Kettle". Folkways.si.edu. Retrieved 2012-05-21. 
  3. ^ "Singing Kettle music group announces farewell tour". BBC. Retrieved 2014-09-02. 
  4. ^ "Spout, handle, lid of metal…Aberdeen farewell for Singing Kettle". 
  5. ^ "Facts About Cilla". The Singing Kettle. Retrieved 2012-05-21. 
  6. ^ "Facts About Artie". The Singing Kettle. Retrieved 2012-05-21. 
  7. ^ "Facts About Gary". The Singing Kettle. Retrieved 2012-05-21. 
  8. ^ "The Music Man – Gary Coupland". www.themusicman.co.uk. 
  9. ^ "Facts About Kevin". The Singing Kettle. Retrieved 2012-05-21. 
  10. ^ a b What's Inside the Singing Kettle? Radio Scotland http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01hw3q5
  11. ^ Brocklehurst, Steven. "BBC News - Five reasons the Kettle is still Singing after 30 years". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-05-21. 
  12. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2507&dat=19861126&id=B6VAAAAAIBAJ&sjid=paUMAAAAIBAJ&pg=4176,6735775
  13. ^ http://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/fullrecord/84367/1/LuckyDip

External links[edit]