Though Scotland may be small, it has produced many famous singers throughout history. They have thrived in countless genres, including rock, pop, folk, and punk music. Some singers even draw on elements of traditional Scottish music to shape their sound.
Scottish singers have been part of some of the most well-known bands in music history. These artists influenced several eras of musical development, especially punk.
While there are several amazing Scottish bands, this article will focus primarily on individual Scottish singers. Read on to learn about 11 of the most famous Scottish singers to leave their tartan mark on music.
1. Lewis Capaldi
Lewis Capaldi is a pop singer and songwriter who was born in Glasgow, which many consider to be the musical heartland of the UK.
He started playing drums and guitar when he was very young. At 18, he went on his first tour, and his manager discovered him after Capaldi posted on SoundCloud.
Capaldi released his debut, Bloom EP, in 2017 and followed that up with his first studio album, Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent, in 2019.
That album was critically-acclaimed and was the best-selling album in the United Kingdom for 2019 and 2020. Not surprisingly, Capaldi has earned numerous accolades, including successes at the Scottish Music Awards, MTV Awards, and the Brit Awards.
2. Annie Lennox
Born in Aberdeen, Annie Lennox is a singer and songwriter known for encompassing many styles, including pop-rock, jazz, electronic, synth-pop, R&B, and new wave music.
She got her initial success as the vocalist for the bands The Tourists and the Eurythmics throughout the 1970s and 1980s. With the Eurythmics, she released eight studio albums, one live album, one soundtrack, 35 singles, and two compilation albums.
In 1992, Lennox launched her solo career and went on to seven studio albums and a compilation album.
She has numerous awards, including eight Brit Awards and four Grammys. Away from music, Lennox is a passionate social activist who has received honorary degrees and numerous other honors.
3. Susan Boyle
West Lothian-born Susan Boyle is a singer known for her operatic pop style. She got her big break when she appeared on the television competition show Britain’s Got Talent.
Her performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” from the musical Les Miserables brought her international fame and was the beginning of a critically-acclaimed career.
Since her rise to popularity, Boyle has released eight albums, including one compilation album and two Christmas-themed releases.
In addition, Boyle found success with touring, and a musical exists that tells the story of her life. She has won several accolades, including at the Scottish Music Awards and World Music Awards.
Born Donovan Philips Leitch, Donovan is a songwriter, singer, and producer. His musical style included elements of jazz, pop, folk, and various other genres.
He became famous in 1965 after playing on the Ready Steady Go! television show. Donovan was at his most popular in the 1960s but later enjoyed a revival in the 1990s.
In 2012, Donovan joined the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2014 he joined the Songwriters Hall of Fame. All in all, Donovan has released 26 studio albums and has charted in multiple countries.
5. Bon Scott
Angus-born Ronald Belford Scott, better known by his stage name Bon Scott, was actually raised in Australia as his family left Scotland when he was just six.
In Oz, Scott participated in a few bands as a drummer and vocalist. Most notably, he was the lead vocalist of AC/DC starting in 1974.
Sadly, Scott died in 1980 at the age of 33. But, despite his short career, he routinely ranks high on lists of the best lead vocalists of all time.
While his grave is in Australia, commemorations of his life have been held in Scotland. He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.
6. Jimmy Somerville
Born in Glasgow, Jimmy Somerville writes and sings pop music both in groups and solo. He has notably worked with Bronski Beat and The Communards.
He was involved in two albums with those bands while also releasing six solo albums. He has been nominated for several Brit Awards and won the British Film Institute award and Rush Gold Awards.
Aside from his music, Somerville has a long history of charity work, including with the LGBTQ and homeless communities.
7. Gerry Rafferty
Gerry Rafferty was a singer and songwriter from Renfrewshire. He was a singer and songwriter who played guitar, piano, and bass. While he is known primarily for his solo career, he was also part of the Humblebums, a folk-pop group, and Stealers Wheel.
Rafferty’s music style encompassed rock, pop, folk, blues, and soft rock. His 11 studio albums, including a posthumous album, earned him an enduring reputation and three Grammy nominations.
Some of the songs he is known for include “Baker Street,” “Stuck in the Middle With You,” and “Right Down the Line.”
8. David Byrne
David Byrne is a singer who was born in Dumbarton, Scotland and raised in Canada. He has been steadily working in bands since 1971.
Byrne was a founding member of the Talking Heads, but he has done plenty of solo work. In addition, Byrne produces music and makes films.
Byrne released eight studio albums with Talking Heads and ten solo and collaboration albums. He has produced several soundtracks for theater, film, and TV shows.
Byrne won several awards, including an Academy Award in 1988, a Golden Globe in 1988, two Grammys in 1989, and a 2021 Tony Award.
9. Sheena Easton
Sheena Easton is a singer of dance, pop, country, and R&B music from Lanarkshire. Easton, who has also acted, first came to prominence on the TV show The Big Time: Pop Singer in 1981.
She is known for several songs, including “9 to 5,” “For Your Eyes Only” from James Bond, “We’ve Got Tonight,” and “U Got the Look.”
Easton created 15 studio albums between 1981 and 2000. In her career, she has won a Billboard Music Award, two Grammys, and a few other accolades.
10. Amy Macdonald
Born in East Dunbartonshire, Amy Macdonald is a singer-songwriter whose style of music has encompassed pop, folk, soft, pop, and rock.
She made her debut in 2007 with her first album, “This Is the Life.” That did well internationally, and the four albums that followed repeated that success.
Some of her most famous songs include, “Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over,” “Mr. Rock & Roll,” “Slow It Down,” “Poison Prince,” and “Automatic.”
Over the years, Macdonald’s music has been recognized with numerous plaudits, including a Scottish Music Award and multiple category wins at the Echo Awards.
11. Lauren Mayberry
Lauren Mayberry is a singer and songwriter who hails from Glasgow. She is the lead vocalist for the synth-pop band Chvrches but is also its keyboard player and percussionist.
Mayberry started playing the drums with bands when she was 15. Chvrches was formed in 2011 and released its debut EP in 2013.
Besides the four albums she has with Chvrches, Mayberry has two EPs with the band Boyfriend/Girlfriend and four EPs with Blue Sky Archives.
Summing Up Our List Of Famous Singers From Scotland
Despite only being 30,000 square miles, when it comes to music, Scotland packs a big punch.
So, if you want to delve deep into Scotland’s rich contribution to music, start by listening to these fantastic singers.
You are sure to find something you’ll like within this list. Whether your favorite genre is folk, pop, rock, punk, or opera, there is likely to be a Scottish singer to be found.