Dame Evelyn Elizabeth Ann Glennie, DBE (born July 19, 1965 in Aberdeen) is a Scottish virtuoso percussionist. She was the first full-time solo professional percussionist in 20th century western society.
Evelyn Glennie was brought up on a farm in Aberdeenshire near where she was born. Her father was Herbert Arthur Glennie, an accordionist in a Scottish country dance band, and the strong, indigenous musical traditions of north-east Scotland were important in the development of the young musician, whose first instruments were the mouth organ and the clarinet. Other major influences were Glenn Gould, Jacqueline du Pré and Trilok Gurtu. She studied at Ellon Academy and the Royal Academy of Music.
Glennie tours extensively in the northern hemisphere, spending up to four months each year in the United States, and performs with an extraordinarily wide variety of orchestras and contemporary musicians, giving over 100 concerts a year as well as master classes and 'music in schools' performances. She frequently commissions percussion works from composers and performs them in her concert repertoire. To date, these original works include 53 concertos, 56 recital pieces, 18 concert pieces and 2 works for percussion ensemble.
In a live performance she can use up to approximately 60 instruments. She also plays the Great Highland Bagpipes and has her own registered tartan known as 'The Rhythms of Evelyn Glennie'. Glennie is in the process of producing her own range of handmade jewellery and also works as a motivational speaker.
Glennie is the patron of many charities supporting a wide range of causes including the deaf and hard of hearing, young musicians and people with a variety of disabilities.
Glennie has been profoundly deaf – meaning that she has some very limited hearing – since age 12. This does not inhibit her ability to perform at the international level. She regularly plays barefoot for both live performances and studio recordings, to better "feel" the music.
Glennie contends that deafness is largely misunderstood by the public. She claims to have taught herself to hear with parts of her body other than her ears. In response to criticism from the media, Glennie published her now famous Hearing Essay in which she personally discusses her condition.
She has also featured on Icelandic singer Björk's album Telegram, performing the duet "My Spine" and she has collaborated with former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, Bela Fleck, Bobby McFerrin and Fred Frith.
On 21 November 2007, the UK government announced an infusion of £332 million just for music-education. This resulted from the successful lobby spearheaded by Glennie, Sir James Galway, Julian Lloyd Webber, and the late Michael Kamen; they formed the Music in Education Consortium in 2002/2003.
In 1994, Glennie married composer, sound engineer and tuba player Greg Malcangi, with whom she collaborated on several musical projects. They divorced in 2003 following her widely-publicised affair with Leonard Slatkin.
Glennie has won many awards, including:
She is the recipient of fifteen honorary doctorates from universities in the United Kingdom, was awarded the OBE in 1993 and promoted to DBE in the New Year's Honours of 2007.
She owns over 1800 percussion instruments from all over the world and is continually adding to her collection.