Robbie Shepherd, one of the most distinctive voices in Scottish broadcasting for more than three decades, was given a special honour at the nation’s annual “trad music” Oscars.
The host of Radio Scotland’s Scottish dance show Take The Floor for 35 years was honoured months after announcing he was hanging up his microphone.
A video tribute to was broadcast during the Scots Trad Music Awards at Dundee’s Caird Hall before the 80-year-old took to the stage to introduce a specially-formed “Robbie Shepherd Tribute Band”, which performed some of his favourite tunes.
Take The Floor, BBC Radio Scotland’s longest-running programme, which dates back to the 1930s, was also honoured at the event, which was shown live on BBC Alba and streamed worldwide.
Shepherd, a passionate champion of the Doric dialect and Scottish traditional music, was described First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was a “broadcasting legend” when he announced he was handing over the reins of the show to musician and former Scottish shinty star Gary Innes.
Shepherd, born in Dunecht, Aberdeenshire, in 1936, worked in the theatre world initially, and compered and produced shows for musical figures like Calum Kennedy and Andy Stewart before branching out into broadcasting. He was tried out for Take The Floor, along with a number of dance band leaders, when the show’s then host, David Findlay, died in 1981.
Shepherd said: “I was no competition to any of the musicians, as there was no hope of me leading a band on the programme, but I was enthusiastic and they let me try it. And here I am.”
Simon Thoumire, founder of the awards, said: “Anyone who has grown up listening to anything to do with Scottish music knows Robbie Shepherd. He really has done so much for Scottish music and culture, he has increased confidence in our native languages, and his knowledge of the Scottish dance band scene is second to none. He has always shared all that knowledge with everyone. He’s never kept to himself and he has kept history alive in many ways.”
Speaking in the video tribute, fiddler Aly Bain said: “Robbie is very distinctive. You can walk into a pub with him and as soon as he opens his mouth everyone turns around and says ‘hello Robbie.’ He is so well known, he is a character, he is part of our lives and over the years he has just become part of Scotland.”
Gaelic singer Fiona Kennedy said: “Robbie could never be anything other than an Aberdeenshire loon. He has the lingo in his DNA. He writes in it, he speaks in it and he communicates in it. That’s Robbie.”
The ceremony also saw Lewis-born singer, actress and storytelling Dolina Maclennan - one of the original performers in theb play The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil - honoured for services to Gaelic music.
Riding star Ellen MacDonald, who performs with the bands Daimh and Niteworks and also stars in the BBC Alba drama Bannan, was named Gaelic singer of the year, while Lori Watson took the Scots singer of the year title.
Hebridean outfit Skerryvore, who launched the Tiree Music Festival and Oban Live events in recent years, were named best live act, with Glasgow’s Piping Live festival named event of the year.
There was double glory for five-piece group Breabach, one of the most successful exports from the Scottish folk scene in recent years, when they won both the best album and best folk band honours.
Full list of 2016 Scots Trad Music Awards winners
Album of the Year: Astar by Breabach
Club of the Year: Stonehaven Folk Club
Composer of the Year: Kris Drever
Community Project of the Year: Feis Rois Life Long Learning Project
Event of the Year: Piping Live
Gaelic Singer of the Year: Ellen MacDonald
Instrumentalist of the Year: Rachel Newton
Live Act of the Year: Skerryvore
Scots Singer of the Year: Lori Watson
Scottish Dance Band of the Year: Trail West
Folk Band of the Year: Breabach
Scottish Pipe Band of the Year: North Lanarkshire Schools Pipe Band
Trad Music in the Media: BBC Radio Scotland’s Take the Floor
Music Tutor of the Year: Jim Hunter
Up and Coming Artist of the Year: Ryan Young
Venue of the Year: The Glad Café, Glasgow
Serices to Gaelic Music Award: Dolina MacLennan
Hamish Henderson Services to Traditional Music Award: Fiona Ritchie