IT’S not important to Matthew that the woman singing to him is Scotland’s best-selling female artist of all time. She has six platinum albums, 11 gold and seven silver. She has two Olivier Awards for her acting, an OBE from the Queen. It’s not important to the 17-year-old that she’s best pals with Billy Connolly, Eric Clapton and the late Gerry Rafferty. He just likes her voice, and the rhythm of her song, January, February, as she sings it for him in his music therapy session.
Barbara Dickson is playing for a very select audience. In Edinburgh’s Royal Blind School a young man called Matthew Goode, who is cortically blind with dystonic cerebral palsy, is being treated to a performance of her bestselling hit from the 1970s when she visits with the music therapy charity, Nordoff Robbins Scotland.
“He likes things with rhythm so I sang that one,” says Dickson. “Francesca, the therapist, played the guitar and I sang it. It was transformative. I’m not a hippie and I have a large cynical streak, but I saw these young people, and particularly Matthew, being taken away from their difficulties and transported to another place. There was no doubt about it. I watched it happen,” she smiles, fired up at the memory.