Glasgow has long held a reputation for providing a warm welcome – and a new BBC ALBA documentary explores how refugee musicians are making the city their home.
Fàilte gu Alba, produced by the award-winning Sgeul Media, sees Gaelic singer and musician Mischa Macpherson go on a journey to find out how Glasgow’s musical and human landscape is changing through migration.
Speaking to refugees from Africa and the Middle East, Lewis-born folk artist Mischa hears how they’re adjusting to life in Scotland’s largest city.
Running through the documentary, is a love of music, alongside harrowing personal stories.
Each of the asylum seekers featured has their own musical passion and talent as Mischa meets a host of new Glaswegians making a life for themselves in the city, learning from their cultures along the way.
Teenage rapper Ali lost his father in the Syrian civil war and, aged five, he and his mother fled the fighting in Syria, ending up in Scotland four years later.
With the help of Mischa and producer Euan Burton, Ali was able to record in a studio for the first time.
The lyrics of his rap echo the struggles he’s faced.
The 17-year-old, who is also a keen boxer, shares his experiences – from the struggle of growing up in a war-torn country to becoming a school captain and helping his mum care for his sister.
Mischa also meets Eyve – a Zimbabwean refugee who feared persecution in her homeland, due to her sexuality.
As a gay woman, Eyve, who has written hundreds of songs, knew she wouldn’t be safe in Zimbabwe, but has found a home in Glasgow.
Eyve and Mischa learn a song together as she opens up about finally feeling at home, saying:
“People Make Glasgow”.
Through the Joyous Choir at the Maryhill Integration Network, Mischa meets Ethiopian woman Maseb, who teaches her an Amharic song.
The choir is also joined by schoolgirl Amanda, from the Glasgow and Edinburgh-based group – Young Saheliya.
As they sang together, Mischa remarked she’d ‘never come across a non-Gaelic speaker pick up a song so quickly’.
Misha meets Refuweegee founder Selina Hales about their work in welcoming new people to the community – showcasing the true kindness of Glasgow.
Aref from Musicians in Exile also shares his story with Mischa.
They learn a song in Farsi – Aref’s native language back in Iran – as he lays out how dangerous it can be to be a musician in the country.
Aref reveals that he knows musicians who have been imprisoned for performing and informs Mischa, much to her shock, that female singers can’t perform solo.
Fàilte gu Alba shows the light and the hope many refugees have experienced in Glasgow and the role music plays in bringing people of all backgrounds together.
Fàilte gu Alba airs on BBC ALBA on Tuesday 11 October at 9pm and will be available on BBC iPlayer for 30 days after.
BBC ALBA is available on the following platforms:
Sky 117 (Scotland) / Sky 169 (rest of UK)
Freeview / You View 7 (Scotland only)
Virgin Media 120 (Scotland), Virgin Media 161 (rest of UK)