2013 - Julie Fowlis
The University of the Highlands and Islands Alumnus of the Year 2013 is highly acclaimed Scottish singer and musician, Julie Fowlis. In 2000, Julie studied the Gaelic language at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI and returned in 2008 to study part-time for a Masters in Material Culture and the Environment, graduating in 2011.
The Alumnus of the Year award is one of the ways we celebrate the achievements of our alumni. The award is made annually to a former student for services to the community, achievements in arts or sciences, in business, public or academic life.
Julie, who was brought up in North Uist and Ross-shire, was the first ever Scottish Gaelic singer to win the BBC Radio 2 folk singer of the year award in 2008.
Her contribution to Scottish culture has been recognised by the University of the Highlands and Islands, which awarded Julie an Honorary Fellowship in 2009, and the Scots Traditional Music Awards from whom she received awards for Gaelic singer of the Year (2007, 2008), Album of the Year (2007, 2010) and Traditional Music in the Media (2012).
She has sung Flower of Scotland live at Hampden Park for the Scottish football team, she performed at the 2012 Ryder Cup in Chicago with a television audience of 500 million and she was named in The Herald's list of ‘Scotland's Top 50 Influential Women of 2012’. Julie has also received numerous accolades and awards for her musical performance in Disney Pixar’s box office hit Brave, set in the ancient Highlands of Scotland. She was also given the honour of being the first official 'Tosgaire an Gàidhlig' or Ambassador for Gaelic, by appointment of the Scottish Government in 2009. She was also recently awarded an Honorary Doctor of Music degree in recognition of her contribution to Scottish music.
Over and above her work as a performer, with three highly acclaimed studio albums, Julie has imparted her skills to young people through the Fèis movement. She is a regular presenter and performer on BBC Alba and TG4 (Ireland) and is a familiar voice on BBC Radio Scotland and has co-presented the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for the last two years. Julie is currently a Musician in Residence attached to Tobar an Dualchais/Kist O Riches, the national sound archive digitisation project, managed through Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI.
As an alumnus of the university, Julie has been a hugely influential ambassador through her work as an outstanding singer, musician and educator, bringing the language and culture to an international audience and, in so doing, exciting and inspiring a new generation of young Gaels.
Julie will receive her award at the University of the Highlands and Islands Foundation Day on the 26th November at West Highland College UHI.