Horse McDonald on her journey to find a voice L
by Paul Kelbie
ife for internationally acclaimed singer and songwriter Horse McDonald couldn’t be much better.
The one woman play of her life story, ‘Careful’, has been playing to rave reviews around the country. She is in the middle of writing her autobiography, has several musical tour dates lined up and was recently named an ‘Outstanding Woman of Scotland’ for her contribution to the country’s culture and society. It’s all a far cry from the darker days of her teenage years growing up in Lanark as the ‘only gay in the village’, having to run the gauntlet of verbal abuse from police officers and sometimes worse from local bullies. Back in the less tolerant and less enlightened times of the 1970s and 1980s she was still trying to find her voice and discover herself. “I had no idea what was wrong with me, I couldn’t fit in, there was nobody
else like me. I thought I was a man because I liked women. There was no-one else like that,” said Horse, who began her life-long passion for telling stories through music when she was just 10-years-old. “When things were difficult I would retreat to my bedroom, my sanctuary, to write songs and sing. Music saved my life. I have been in a lot of very dark places. Using my voice has been uplifting and helped me get through it all.” Despite all the difficulties Horse, who admits to having a stubborn streak and inbuilt sense of justice, has always remained true to herself and refused to conform. “Like everyone else I’ve spent a lot of time trying to ‘find myself’ and my voice,” said Horse. “The one thing I realised quite early on was I can’t not be myself. That’s why I’ve never been ‘in’ as a gay person, I’ve always been ‘out’. While other people hid themselves or were closeted
I couldn’t do that even though it brought me a lot of problems. “I now realise I had to experience all those hurdles. They made me stronger and very creative. In some strange way those bad experiences helped bring the music out of me.” Over the years Horse has produced nine albums, including ‘The Same Sky’ and ‘God’s Home Movie’. She has toured with big international names such as Tina Turner, BB King, Bryan Ferry, Burt Bacharach and performed to packed venues around the world. Despite her success her feet have remained securely grounded and she is still often surprised when people treat her as something of a celebrity. “People sometimes shake when they come to meet me and I’m gobsmacked as to why. I’m just little old me,” said Horse, who admits it has only been in the last 10 years or so that she has been