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Unswayed by celebrity, Scottish singer keeps music first

Amy MacDonald launches US tour after her debut album hits No. 1 across Europe.

‘THIS IS THE LIFE’: The singer-songwriter picked up a guitar at 12 after hearing the Scottish band Travis. But it’s being at home, not life on the road, that inspires her to write, she says.

Courtesy of Vertigo Records

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When a pop star sells over a million copies of an album titled "This Is the Life," it conjures up images of a lifestyle a lot more glamorous than the one Amy MacDonald is leading. On this particular afternoon, the Scottish singer is en route to record her second TV performance of the day, but her van is mired in traffic "somewhere in Holland." Not even a crackly transatlantic line can filter out MacDonald's enthusiasm – or dilute a Glaswegian accent that makes one wish for a phone equipped with subtitles.

"It's all crazy, but it's all good crazy," says the young singer, whose first US single, "Mr. Rock 'n' Roll," is a hit on AAA format radio. "We can all moan and say, 'Oh, it's so hard, and it's horrible having to travel.' But it's a much better position to be than being stuck at home and twiddling my thumbs."

MacDonald's fingers won't be idle any time soon. The acoustic guitarist, renowned for singing life-affirming anthems in a Celtic dialect, is about to crisscross America to promote last month's US release of "This Is the Life," a No. 1 debut album in Europe. But the songwriter is almost gleeful about venturing to venues that are smaller than the ones she's accustomed to playing.

"It's nice to know that you can go to Europe or back home and play lovely venues," she says, "but then you can still go and play the more intimate places."

As a teen, MacDonald honed her live repertoire at a Starbucks. She'd picked up a guitar at 12 after a concert by Scottish band Travis left her ears forever hungry for melody. Just three years later, she was writing songs such as "Youth of Today" while fantasizing about playing at Glasgow's Barrowlands Ballroom. "This Is the Life" includes a song about that particular dream, which she fulfilled last Christmas in what she describes as "the best gig we've ever done."


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