Don McGlashan is one of New Zealand’s most popular and celebrated songwriters and performers, whose music provides the soundtrack to our most significant national occasions as well as being heard around the world.
He has won numerous awards for his albums, songs and for his film and television scores. In 2012 he was made one of The University of Auckland’s Distinguished Alumni. Described by the selection panel as a “literary lyricist,” Don has been selected for the 2013 Summer Residency at the Michael King Writers’ Centre to work on an album of new songs that will explore song structure and some aspects of New Zealand history. It will be his third solo album.
Don was born in Auckland in 1959. He studied composition and French Horn at the Auckland Conservatorium of Music, playing horn and percussion in the Auckland Symphonia to pay his way through university. He also studied English, Anthropology and Political Studies.
His songwriting and performance career includes:
- The music/performance group From Scratch (1979-86).
- Auckland band Blam Blam Blam. His song Don’t Fight it Marsha, it’s Bigger than Both of Us was song of the year in the 1982 Recording Industry Awards.
- The Front Lawn duo with actor (now film director) Harry Sinclair from 1985-90. They performed in Europe, America, Australia, twice at the Edinburgh Festival, winning The Independent newspaper’s theatre award in 1988 and being placed in the Pick of the Fringe season at London’s Donmar Warehouse.
- The Mutton Birds (10 years from 1991), singer and main songwriter, leading to four NZ top albums, including two platinum and two top-five singles, with one reaching number one. His song Anchor Me won New Zealand’s top songwriting award in 1994, the Silver Scroll. The group signed with Virgin Records in 1995 and toured all over the world. Its album Envy of Angels (1997) made the UK Sunday Times ten best records of the year list.
He has written the scores for 13 feature films and five television series, including An Angel at My Table (1990), Street Legal (award for best score in 2003), No 2 (Best Original Music in the NZ Film Awards 2006 and Silver Scroll for the song Bathe in the River).
In 2006, Don released his first solo album Warm Hand, which reached Gold in New Zealand. His second solo album Marvellous Year, with his band The Seven Sisters, was released in 2009.
In recent years he has toured the United States and Europe with Crowded House, as the opening act and guest musician in the band. He was part of the Seven Worlds Collide Collaboration, toured extensively solo, with The Seven Sisters and with The Bell Birds. In 2012 he was invited to be one of the mentors at the Australian Song Summit and he led the re-formed Mutton Birds on an NZ tour and a show at the Shepherds Bush Empire in London.
Don has taught courses in songwriting and composition at The University of Auckland, Unitec and at Otago University. In 2001 he held the Auckland University Literary Fellowship for his songwriting. In 2002 he was named a New Zealand Arts Foundation Laureate. In 2012 he was made a Distinguished Alumni of The University of Auckland.
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