Social Studies graduate embarking on her fifth career
Over 40 years since graduating from University of the West of Scotland, Social Studies graduate Evelyn Laurie tells us about her time studying in Paisley and embarking on her “fifth career” as a singer songwriter.
After a short spell working in a bank after leaving school, Renfrewshire-born Evelyn applied in 1975 to join the BA Social Studies degree at, what was then, Paisley College of Technology, graduating in 1979 with honours.
“It was a great four years of education and learning both in and out of College. Many an evening (and a few afternoons!) was spent discussing politics and the issues of the day – but also who was the better guitarist Jimmy Page or Jimi Hendrix – in Ferriers pub, the ‘alternative students’ Union’ at the bottom of Storie Street. After closing time, which was 10pm in those days, there was a great after hours culture in the student flats owned by the college around the campus.
The Students’ Union also hosted many bands from near and far. So did the Brough Hall (now known as Chancellor’s Hall) until a punk band member threw a pig’s head into the audience and such events were halted.
It is clear to see that Paisley was a hotbed of creativity, as well as learning, then, as it is still.
I undertook further vocational study (Diploma in Housing) at Stirling University to work in social housing, which I did successfully for around 12 years, setting up housing associations and coops and developing housing projects, latterly as a self-employed consultant.
Ever-keen to expand my skills, I then studied part-time at Strathclyde University for a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA). During this time I got interested in business development and pivoted my practice to offer marketing consultancy, initially within the construction sector, but gradually in other sectors, business startups and creatives.
Later still, I trained as a coach and added marketing and business development coaching and mentoring to my freelance business.
Music, and particularly singing, though, has been a constant in my life as far back as I can remember. It wasn’t until around 18 years ago though, that I began really developing my own voice as a solo performer and found a home in jazz. I soon started doing little gigs, then bigger ones and even had a spell of doing corporate events until I decided I didn’t like being “musical wallpaper” – even if they did pay well! This was always a sideline to my ‘day job’.
My musical career took a back seat when I moved back to Paisley, having lived in Glasgow for many years, and became very much involved with the culture-led regeneration of Paisley. I initiated a campaign, “Positive Paisley” and led a variety of other voluntary activities, for which I was awarded “Renfrewshire Provost’s Champion, Arts and Culture” in 2018.
Refocusing on my musical career, at the tender age of 62, I released my first album, “A little bit of me” of covers and originals in October 2018. It was very well received and even won an award from a jazz radio station. Online reviewer, “Jazz Views” said: “…a stunningly beautiful album from a lady who has waited far too long before making her debut recording.”
I now describe myself as a singer and songwriter, full-time. In between lockdowns and restrictions, I released my second album last year (2021), which is a collection of 18th and 19th century Scottish songs reimagined in contemporary jazz settings. The title track, “My Scottish Heart” is my original and is about the highland clearances. It has been described as: “A fantastic musical masterpiece wonderfully brought together with Evelyn’s vocals”.
So, here I am: many years after being an undergraduate in Paisley. I’m grateful for the good grounding in principles of social equality and the values underpinning a fair and equitable society that I developed as a student and which have been a strong thread running through my life.”
Evelyn currently has a number of musical projects underway, including a single release of a song she has written, “Glow”, on 1 April, all proceeds from which will be donated to support Ukraine.
Find it more about this and Evelyn’s music at https://evelynlaurie.bandcamp.com/