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The songman shouts out his sensuous blues
Sets fast feet tapping in dancing shoes
Hot diggity daw – then he changes his tune
Now ever’body’s swaying by the silvery moon

He sings about the mountains, rivers and vales
Long lost heroes and mystical tales
Of war and peace, of love and glory
Every ballad tells its own true story

Drinking songs and songs of love
Sung in harmony like hand and glove
Music made for every fashion
The songman sings them all with passion

The songman sings right from his soul
But he can sing bop and rock ‘n roll
He can sing country western too
He can sing anything, just for you

The Songman”             
                                                Lyrics: Bill Campbell             

 

WILLIAM WALLACE MEEK CAMPBELL was born 27th November, 1942, in Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland.  Born with a song in his heart and a story to tell,  Young Bill joined the church choir at a very early age.  It would not be until he had reached the ripe old age of 10 that he would discover the melody of his soul.  Mesmerized by Larry Parks in the movie “The Jolson Story”, Bill was enthralled by Al Jolson’s vocal resonance and beguiling lyrics.  His adoration for the Master of Songs set Bill on a journey down his personal ‘yellow brick road’ that would guide each step along his musical career.

As a boy must grow into a man, Bill chose the medical service as a profession, earning his qualifications in nursing.  Working mainly in Mental Health settings, he entered into Health Care Management and worked for 33 years in the National Health Service.

Live performance was never far from his heart.  Bill joined The Garioch Musical Society in 1991.  The Society produced a classical choral piece or cabaret every spring and a large stage show every November.  Bill was initially cast in the chorus of ‘Call me Madam’,  ‘Carousel’ and ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ before landing a small role in ‘The Pyjama Game’.  His next roles were as Principle Actor and Singer in the society’s productions of ‘Kiss me Kate’, ‘Pink Champagne’, ‘Anything Goes’ and ‘Bye Bye Birdie’.  Bill’s myriad of characters and performances garnered a succession of sterling reviews.

Accustomed to changing roles and donning new hats, Bill retired from heath service and took a very committed role in Social Care management for the homeless people of Aberdeen through the Cyrenians charity,  He would manage two residential homes for older people before he finally retired from the workplace in 2002. 

Joining the International Al Jolson Society (IAJS) in 1995 was another pivotal moment in the Songman’s life. He had the song, he had the melody and he had developed his moves, but now he would find his personal footlights on the greatest stage.  He attended his first Annual Al Jolson Convention in 1995 as a mild-mannered attendee, but by 2000 the Songman had a rainbow around his shoulder as he took to the stage performing at the Annual Convention in Milwaukee.... an honour he would relish at each convention for the next nine years.  At the 2009 Festival, Bill received a most prestigious and humbling tribute, when inducted as an Honorary Al Jolson Society Member

The  2011 Annual Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, will mark the eleventh consecutive year that Bill has taken his place on the stage to memorialize and pay respect to his “mentor”, Al Jolson. By any stretch of the imagination, this is a stellar accomplishment for a young choirboy from Renfrewshire with a dream in his heart.

Although Bill is theoretically retired from his career, his profession and passion for singing, writing and live performance take pride of centre stage. Bill has a creative interest in writing poetry as well as song lyrics.  He has produced a limited edition of poems in a book called ‘’Visions in a Passing Stream”.   This which was a sell out with all proceeds benefitting the Aberdeen Cyrenians.

He has had individual poems published in numerous anthologies by Forward Press and is currently writing a new book of poems entitled ‘Under the Rainbow’

Tithing in body and spirit have gone hand in hand through Bill’s life. As an elder for his local church, (www.NewMacharChurch.net) he provides inspiration, guidance and motivation to all within the community. Singing from the heart, Bill and a fellow church elder perform as the duo called ‘The Prodigals,’ singing gospel songs in and around the City of Aberdeen.

Bill & Helen 2

Songs of joy, contentment and happiness come easily to Bill because his life has been enriched by a marriage focused, guided and rooted in love and devotion. Helen Ann Campbell has been at Bill’s side for each chorus and every encore.  Blessed by three children and two grandchildren, it is easy to see why he has such a song in his heart.

Text from “The Melody of the Man”
by Judy Ann Newton-Harzer, 2010

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