Glasgow Caledonian University’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Pamela Gillies said: “I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Michael Marra.
As one of of Scotland’s most talented song writers and performers, we were incredibly proud that he was both an Honorary Graduate of the University and one of our cultural fellows. His considerable gifts as a musician were matched by his qualities as a human being. The indelible impact he made on so many as one of modern Scotland’s great storytellers means he leaves a lasting legacy as an artist and as a man.
“The thoughts of everyone at Glasgow Caledonian University are with his loved ones at this time.”
Michael Marra was brought up in the Lochee district of Dundee. He formed his own band Hen’s Teeth at 19 and went on to perform with Dundee’s Skeets Boliver before developing a solo performing and song writing career.
Michael’s song writing sessions at GCU proved a hit amongst aspiring performers and attracted a loyal following. From the outset, Michael stressed that musical ability was not necessary to join his workshops, just an interest in song writing’s “many diverse aims”. Participants of the group have already completed songs and some have even been recorded. In his last letter to the Principal Michael, who was such a great teacher, said they were an interesting group from whom he learned a lot and with whom he experienced real joy from time to time.
Although predominantly known as a song writer, Michael worked extensively in theatre, radio and television, touring the length and breadth of Britain, performing in arts centres, theatres, folk clubs and village halls. He opened for diverse performers like Van Morrison, The Proclaimers, Louden Wainwright III, Barbara Dickson and Deacon Blue.
He performed in Washington DC and Melbourne, Australia in the show 'In Flagrant Delicht' which was devised in collaboration with poet and playwright Liz Lochhead, Honorary President of the cultural fellows at GCU. In theatre, Michael wrote original music and worked both as an actor and musical director. His own operetta 'If The Moon Can Be Believed' was performed at Dundee Rep to sell-out audiences.
He collaborated with Graham McLaren of Theatre Babel on a new production of 'The Demon Barber' for Perth Theatre having previously worked with him on Liz Lochhead's ‘Beauty and The Beast’.
Michael also performed original songs with the Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Scottish National Orchestra, Concerto Caledonia, Mr McFall's Chamber, and his own Quintet. He has dueted with Patti Smith, Eddi Reader, Karen Mathieson and Karine Polwart.
In 2007 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Dundee University in recognition of his contribution to the cultural profile of his home town and in 2011 he was made an honorary Doctor of Letters by Glasgow Caledonian University. He also won a prestigious Herald Angel Award in 2010 for his performance at The Acoustic Music Centre during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.