THE LYRICS of Scotland’s most famous poet are set to be revamped – in a Jamaican reggae album.
Rabbie Burns, also known as the Bard of Ayrshire, was an 18th century poet and lyricist who has since become widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland.
His most famous pieces include Auld Lang Syne, often sung at Hogmanay, and ‘Scots Wha Hey” which for a long time served as an unofficial national anthem for the country.
But now his dulcet tones are set to be transformed as part of a new project, which will see Jamaican artists sing his lyrics and mix his words to dubstep beats.
It is the brainchild of Scots musician Kieran Murray, who discovered that the poet almost emigrated to Jamaica in 1786.
Kieran, who lived in the West Indies for five years, hopes that the album will tell the story of what Burns’s legacy would have been if he had ended up in the Caribbean.
It features artists such as Ken Boothe, who is described as one of the founding fathers of reggae.
Tracks include Burns’s classic songs such as A Red, Red Rose, Ae Fond Kiss and The Slave’s Lament.
It is thought that a penniless Burns had decided to accept a job as a bookkeeper on a slave plantation in Jamaica, and had even bought his ticket to travel.
However, he abandoned his plans due to events such as the death of his lover “Highland” Mary, his wife Jean Armour giving birth to twins and his poems being successfully published.
Kieran, who is now based in Stirling, said when he moved to Jamaica in 2006 he came across folk songs which reminded him of Scottish traditional music.
“The melodies struck me as being familiar, they sounded like Scottish folk songs,” he said.
“I started to think more about it, then someone sent me an article explaining how Robert Burns had bought a ticket to come to Jamaica in 1786.
“Being a Scot and a Burns fan as well, and living in Jamaica, I started to imagine what if he had come here – what would his legacy have been and how would the songs have ended up sounding?
“The more I started digging into his songs I thought I need to make an album of Jamaicans singing Burns’s songs.”
Other Jamaican artists featuring on the album include Brina, who is also Kieran’s wife, Cherine Anderson, Rootz Underground, Nickeishia Barnes and Berii.
It also involves musicians who have played and recorded with Bob Marley and the Wailers.
The album was recorded last summer in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital, and Murray hopes it will be released this summer.
There are also plans to make a documentary film of the Jamaica Sings Robert Burns project, which will follow the artists recording the music and tell the story of how Burns nearly ended up in the Caribbean.