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Tom Walker: Scots gran is my role model

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Media captionTom Walker’s biggest fan is his Scottish granny

Brit award nominee Tom Walker has made a big impact on the music world in the past year but his number one fan is his 81-year-old granny.

“My gran has been to every gig in Scotland,” he says.

“She even came to Manchester on the last tour and I got 1,500 people to sing her Happy Birthday.

“It was incredible.”

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Tom Walker

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Tom Walker with his gran Sadie

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C Brandon

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Tom Walker’s biggest hit Leave a Light On is nominated for a Brit award

Walker told BBC Scotland that he moved from Glasgow to Cheshire when he was just three-and-a-half but his connections to his homeland remained strong.

“I grew up in a Glaswegian house because my parents are fairly Glaswegian sounding,” he says.

And he was often north of the border to visit his grandparents and cousins.

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Frank Hoensch

His mum’s family lived in Cumbernauld and his dad’s in Kilsyth.

“When I was a kid it was like going on holiday,” he says.

“I thought it was magic.”

Walker, whose breakout hit Leave a Light On has been nominated for the Best British Single award, stays with his gran whenever he is in the west of Scotland.

And he has written a song dedicated to her, called “All that matters”.

“We sat one night and talked for four hours about everything she’d been through,” he says.

“As a 27-year-old I’m like ‘everything is hard for me, being young is so difficult’.

“But she’s been through everything you can imagine and come out the other side a really happy and positive person.

“She’s like a role model in that sense.”

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Francesco Prandoni

His gran Sadie told BBC Scotland she loved how he turned his experiences into beautiful songs and was “absolutely chuffed” he had written one about her.

“When he was up in Glasgow for TRNSMT last summer we were sitting one night and chatting.

“Two weeks later he phoned me up and said ‘gran, I’ve written a song about you’.”

She says Walker was a bit boisterous when he was younger but he is a “gentle giant” now.

“He’s still the big cuddly bear he always was,” she says.

Walker himself says he is keen to avoid the pitfalls of stardom and be a positive influence like his gran.

He says Leave a Light On was written because a friend was going through a really tough time with drug and alcohol issues and it was a way of processing it.

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But many people have told him it helped them cope with their own problems.

“I always write music if I’m feeling a bit rubbish and I don’t know how to get over or through something,” he says.

“It’s like therapy I guess and it is a really nice side effect that people find their own stories in those songs and it helps them get through stuff.

“I set out to make music people enjoy but it is really cool that it is helping people get through.”

As well as the best single nomination, Walker is also up for best British Breakthrough Act.

He says it was “crazy” to find out he was nominated for two Brits.

“My friends think I’m actual proper artist now,” he says.

“My parents think I’ve got an actual proper job.”

He is not sure who he will be taking with him to the awards ceremony at London’s O2 arena on 20 February but he says it would be great for his gran to be there.

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Tom Walker

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Walker performed at Murrayfield at the weekend

Sadie was at Murrayfield at the weekend when Walker performed his biggest hit on the pitch before the rugby international between Scotland and Italy.

After performing he stayed on the pitch for the national anthem.

“Standing in the middle of that field was ridiculous,” he says.

“When the Scots national anthem came on they did an instrumental for the first half and then they stopped and everybody around the whole stadium finished it off.

“That was such a moment, 67,000 people all singing it and you are in the middle.

“I just kept spinning around with my mouth wide open thinking ‘this is amazing’.”

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Tom performed at The BBC’s Quay Sessions with the Red Hot Chilli Pipers

Walker was joined for his performance by Scottish act the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, who he had also performed with during a warm-up busking session on the steps of Glasgow’s Buchanan Street last week.

They will also appear with him at BBC Scotland’s Quay Sessions, which will be broadcast on 14 February on Radio Scotland.

Walker says he really enjoyed the experience and would love to work with the pipers again but there is one Scottish artist above all others that he would like to meet – Paolo Nutini.

“I’ve always loved everything he’s done,” Walker says.

“He’s got such a cool voice. He seems like an interesting character.”

Nutini is not nominated for a Brit award this year but fellow Scottish megastar Calvin Harris is up against Walker in the Best Single category.

“He’s got enough Brits surely,” Walker says.

Whether he wins or not, Walker will be busy for the rest of the year, with his debut album “What a time to be alive” out on 1 March and tour dates planned around the world.

And no doubt his gran Sadie will be at Glasgow’s Barrowland when he returns to his homeland on 26 April.

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