Michael Marra 1952 - 2012 : A gentleman genius - Scotland's national bard
A personal recollection of the Scottish songwriter by musician Eilidh Mackenzie
A few times in our lives we may be lucky enough for our path to cross with that of someone truly exceptional. The crossing can change your outlook, confidence, politics or career path.
I feel totally blessed to have crossed paths with the great Michael Marra. We met first in the early 1990s at a songwriter's workshop. He later produced our first Mackenzie album, Camhanach, and our paths remerged on my 2009 solo work, Bel Canto. I still pinch myself to think of how his involvement in all of these projects make them each extra precious.
A modest man of small stature, he was a giant of letters. A bard in the true sense - statuesque in his writing, with a flair for finding the perfect melodic partner. He possessed a heart of enormous proportion and his conversation, like his song, was intense and always inspirational. Rather than opinionated, he held many opinions and gently led you to look at things from other, sometimes initially obscure, perspectives. However, aware of the way he looked at language and turn of phrase, this should come as no surprise. And his comic timing was showcased at its very best through song. For many, his much-loved song Hermless is a contender for the alternative national anthem for Scotland.
Michael came across as an unpretentious man who identified with the common man but held his own honoured men in high esteem. A man's a man for a' that, indeed.
Although he seemed rarely idle, he still gifted time to write a letter when he felt it due and poured his kindness through beautiful handwritten words of encouragement.
Michael comes from a large Dundee family. His wife Peggy was so generous with Michael's time and his children Alice and Matthew are wonderful musicians in their own right. His younger brother Chris, also incredibly talented as a musician, shares Michael's mischievous streak and love of the ridiculous. His death is such a sorrow for his family, his friends, his fans, for music, Dundee and Scotland.
Michael was a gentleman and a genius. A singer-songwriter like no other, he was a dear, beloved man. Michael Marra will forever be my Rabbie Burns.
Michael Marra sings the track 'You Misunderstand Me' on Eilidh Mackenzie's album Bel Canto