Who do you think you are?
A question many of us like to ask, but few really know the answer to. While tall tales from distant relatives may tell of our distant royal connections, or indeed of our ties to foreign lands, it isn’t until we peel back the layers of the family tree that the truth is unveiled.
Ferdinand Snow, a Swedish musician, is one of those on a quest to unearth clues of his Scottish connections. Just last year, the pianist visited living relatives in Glasgow, quickly learning that musical prowess ran in the veins – his great grandfather, George Nicol Reid Caird, was a professional violinist, playing for the BBC Variety Orchestra in Glasgow, as well as starring on the popular television show ‘Jig Time’ in the 1950s, playing alongside such greats as Dame Vera Lynn and Jimmy Shand.
But Ferdinand had until now been left in the dark, and had no knowledge of other musical talents within the family. Ferdinand’s father tried to prevent him from entering the music business, instead leading him towards a more conventional career as an English teacher. What’s more, his father actively kept his great grandfather’s occupation from him, in the hope of dissuading him from a career in the entertainment industry.
Ferdinand would have still been in Scotland exploring the family tree had it not been for the current Coronavirus pandemic. ‘I’m desperate to come back,’ he says. ‘I love it there (in Scotland)’. After experiencing the spectacular scenery of the country as well as the Scottish hospitality he said: ‘Suddenly, I could fit in’. Following his initial visit, he and his older brother say they feel a strong connection with Scotland, feeling inspired to compose a piece of music in tribute to his Celtic connections, releasing the single ‘My heart belongs to Scotland’.
The single comes from his new EP ‘Live From a Funeral’. Speaking of the EP, Ferdinand says that ‘it is what I would have played at my grandfather’s funeral to honour him after he passed away’.
Ferdinand also talks of the Swedish idea of ‘Lagom’ – a concept of balance wherein one is never too much or too little. This concept, he says, is deeply rooted in Swedish culture and encourages individuals to shy away from concepts like boasting and sarcasm. When he came over to the UK, he was pleasantly surprised by what he found, finding the communication unique and somewhat preferable to his homeland.
That said, he did note some similarities between Swedish and Scottish culture – for instance, many Scots words have roots in Scandinavia, like the words ‘bairn’ and ‘lang’ which derive from the Swedish words ‘barn’ and ‘lång’ respectively. Both words carry the same meanings in Scots dialect as they do in the Swedish language. This leads Ferdinand to say, ‘It’s not difficult for me to understand Scottish dialect,’ he says, explaining that his Scottish heritage has pride of place in his heart. ‘For me it has been important to wear a kilt on festive occasions, and I only drive old British cars.’
Despite his love for the hills and glens, Ferdinand has no current plans to relocate to Scotland, but is taken by the idea of buying a summer house this side of the pond one day. He admits the country crosses his mind frequently, and wants to be closer to his living relatives, who are now in their nineties, while he still can.
‘There is something very romantic about Scotland that is hard to describe,’ he says. ‘You don’t need to travel around the world – everything you need is in Scotland.’ It is this deep love for Scotland that has inspired him to pursue a career as a solo musician, saying that Scotland is ‘very inspirational’, and that ‘the music has just come from learning about and studying Scotland.’
Prior to the release of his debut single he worked behind the scenes writing music, describing himself as a ‘hired gun’ of the music industry, whom people know to call upon for singing and piano services. But having learned of his family history, he feels it only right to pay tribute to the country in which his great-grandfather lived.
Ferdinand has very limited knowledge of his great grandfather, and while the stories passed on to him from great aunts and uncles were welcome, he is very keen to learn more. He says photos of his grandfather are difficult to come by. Tragedy struck when his great uncle – who was due to send him photos and information of his great grandfather – fell ill, meaning Ferdinand never saw the images.
As such, Ferdinand is appealing to the public for information, especially to those in the Glasgow and Stonehaven – areas in which his grandfather is said to have spent a lot of time. George Nicol Reid Caird was born in 1903. Any information would be very gratefully received.
Ferdinand can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org