WHEN Sadie Jemmett performs Don’t Silence Me live, she’s accompanied by 1000s of backing singers from around the world – in her mind, that is.

A defiant rallying cry against sexual violence, Jemmett originally wrote the #MeToo anthem for film and TV actress Mhairi Morrison.

Banchory-born Morrison, a star of Casualty and ITV thriller Missing, had told Jemmett that an “extremely prominent” French film director had assaulted her in the early 2000s, just a fortnight after the two friends completed their studies at drama school in Paris.

Morrison first told her story publicly on a crowd-funding page to make a video for Jemmett’s strident song.

Directed by filmmaker Jenn Page, the video was first shown at an event in Los Angeles to coincide with International Women’s Day in March before showings in Paris, London and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, where Morrison was a student.

The women feature in the video alongside around 40 survivors of sexual violence, many of whom, like artist-actress Lili Bernard, have previously gone public with their claims against high-profile figures.

“Don’t Silence Me has a life of its own now,” says Jemmett from her home in Sussex. “It got picked up by lots of news channels and it consequently got a lot of views and a lot of support, and continues to do that. There’s a website and a Facebook page, which are very positive places for people to go and respond to the issues in the video.”

Jemmett adds: “Writing the song, it was a case of my friend needing help to find her voice again; she’d been silent for years. When I play it now, I can hear all these other people singing it alongside me. There’s a lot of love for it and it doesn’t feel like it belongs to me any more.”

Jemmett and Los Angeles-based Morrison hope the song will continue to help inspire discussion and empower survivors.

For now Jemmett’s focus is on Phoenix, her third solo album.

Back before drama school, Jemmett had played in a number of bands, the first of which were the African Ambassadors, a band of Jamaican reggae musicians based in Edinburgh, where her mother lived.

“I was about 16 and was supposed to be doing my Highers at Telford College,” she says.

“I wasn’t – I was hanging around bars watching bands. I just said to them: ‘You need backing singers’, and I was in. We played colleges, universities and once, a festival just outside of Edinburgh with Desmond Dekker on the same bill – that was a huge deal.”

Jemmett had played guitar and sang since the age of 11. Then, making music gave her comfort from an unsettled life with a succession of families due to her mother’s poor health. Later, as she bounced around Europe, it would help her survive.

“Though I would go back to Edinburgh for years to visit my mum, I was a bit of a teenage runaway,” she says. “After the Ambassadors, I went on to Switzerland and then to Berlin. I was in bands, I was a busker. After my dad died at 18, that’s how I got through financially and emotionally.”

Only when she went to drama school in Paris did Jemmett begin to consider pursuing music seriously, first writing for theatre productions such as the Moliere Award-wining Resonances, starring French screen icon Irene Jacob.

After Making Sense, a track from Resonances, became playlisted on French radio, the multi-instrumentalist went on to release The Blacksmith’s Girl in 2013 and 2015’s London Love Songs; two late night albums which were a hit on the London jazz circuit.

Recorded by Cowboy Junkies regular Joby Baker in Canada, Phoenix is more expansive musically and thematically, with the atmospheric Good Friday dealing with the death of her mother, classic rocker Rescue Street the delusions of Tinder and the wrenching Leonard’s Waltz recalling the last time she saw an old friend, a fellow Leonard Cohen fan who was terminally ill.

Not for nothing is the record called Phoenix, with Jemmett losing three people in the months she wrote it.

The personal and the political come together in The Wilder Shores Of Love, a ballad inspired by the ongoing refugee crisis.

“I had read about a Syrian guy who’d lost his home and been separated from his wife and children,” says Jemmett, noting she intends to play Scottish gigs in the coming months.

“I thought: ‘Who am I to write about this man when I don’t know what he’s going through?’ But there’s a line in the song when he talks about his wife: ‘I wear her absence like a uniform that drives me on’.

“When I wrote that, I was thinking about how much I miss my mother. I know what it is to wear the absence of somebody every day – and to keep going.”

Phoenix is out now. www.sadiejemmett.com