Jun 23 2010 by Michael Pringle, Airdrie & Coatbridge
MAUREEN McMullan didn’t really need any reassuring that she was doing the right thing by moving to Boston to pursue her singing dream.
If she had any doubts then these were extinguished by a singing legend. Maureen (30) was left gobsmacked when Barbra Streisand asked to meet her to congratulate her on her performance in front of thousands of people in Boston.
The Coatbridge singer, a music lecturer at Napier University and Strathclyde University, decided to take a sabbatical and travel to Boston to study at the world famous Berklee College of Music. Maureen managed to secure the $44,000 a year needed to fund her attendance at the college from a number of sources including; Sir Sean Connery’s, Scottish International Education Trust and the Donald Dewar Arts Awards, the gamble has paid off as Maureen has landed an intern job with the Warner Music Group based in Nashville.
The Coatbridge singer recalled the moment when she met her idol Barbra Streisand on the eve of her graduation, she said: “The college asked me to sing west African singer Angélique Kidjo’s version of Summertime, the multi-Grammy award winner. I sang with a full 50-piece band, a choir and strings, it was so cool.
“A college official asked me to wait because someone in the audience wanted to come and congratulate me on my performance.
“I was thinking it was someone’s mum or dad at the graduation ceremony. I saw some people I recognised and I was waving then I froze because then I’m looking at one of my idols – Barbra Streisand. I just stood there and thought - oh my goodness.
“She came up to me and said I just had to meet you I wanted to come and say how much I loved your performance, you have a wonderful voice. I told her I’d come from Scotland and it was my dream to be a singer, she told me never to give up.
“The next day I graduated and the day after I turned 30, I felt like the luckiest girl alive.”
Brought up within the grounds of Drumpellier Park, Maureen believes that hard work is the key to achieving your dreams, she said: “They had an amazing music department at St Ambrose High, and they set me off on a good path, in particular music teacher Val Moyes.”
“They put on a big school show every year and I was in Annie, Calamity Jane and 42nd Street and I loved all that music. That just builds your confidence.
“I guess I’ve always sang, first of all with my sister Sharon we used to sing a lot of my dad’s kind of music as he was a massive country music fan.”
“I’ve even sang karaoke when I’m on holiday with my sister, she’s always saying to me to go up and win a t-shirt or a bottle of vodka.”
After leaving school Maureen went on to study at Strathclyde University, while most of her friends had jobs in shops she made money by singing in bands with residences in Glasgow and she managed to get session work.
Maureen has packed a lot into life since graduating in 2003, she taught music in Glasgow’s primary schools with the National Youth Choir of Scotland before taking up a full time lecturing post.
The songstress is delighted at how her move to Boston has worked out, she said: “It was a gamble and there were some ups and downs. I wasn’t someone who was moving away from a really terrible job, I had a very nice career here.”
Maureen will keep her singing dream alive in the US, she continued: “My hope when I go to Nashville is that I’m going to keep writing, doing session work, try and publish some songs and get a record contract but if that doesn’t happen then I’m really open minded to whatever comes my way.”
Apart from her family there are home comforts that Maureen misses, she admitted: “I miss the food here in Scotland; black pudding, Leslies Rolls and HP Brown Sauce. Boston’s great for sea food so I got right into that while I was there, it’s so much cheaper, lobster is as common as our steak pie is here.
Maureen’s story has been picked up by fans of Barbra Streisand, she added: “I was contacted from the people at the official Barbra Streisand website who added my story to the news section and official Facebook page.”
For more information on Maureen check out her website: www.maureenmcmullan.co.uk