SHE is one of Scotland’s greatest musical exports and best-kept cultural secrets – now a new BBC Alba documentary explores her story Trusadh: Jessie N MacLachlan – Queen of Melody, tells the tale of the Gaelic singer’s rise to fame and, until now, forgotten legacy.

The hour-long programme explores MacLachlan’s life on and off the stage using archive material and a dramatic recreation.

It also follows the restoration of MacLachlan’s grave in Glasgow’s Cathcart Cemetery.

Presented by musician Mary Ann Kennedy – who plays MacLachlan in the recreation and was a key figure in the restoration efforts – the film reveals how MacLachlan rose from humble beginnings to become a worldwide top-billing soprano and subsequently, a lost legend.

The epitaph on her gravestone suggests it was expected that Jessie’s legacy would stand the test of time.

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The inscription reads: “While Scots and Gaelic song endures, so long will the memory of Jessie N MacLachlan remain fragrant as the heath upon Scotland’s bens and her name and fame be remembered as that of a Queen of Melody.”

However, this was not the case until the intervention of a crowd-funded group which led the restoration project, completed last month.

Born in Oban in 1866, the eldest of eight children, MacLachlan was known as a Queen of Melody for her reputation for belting out nostalgic songs in Gaelic, Scots and English.

Her achievements were significant at a time when it was unusual for women to gain celebrity status in society.

At a time when Gaelic was “despised” and “punished” in mainstream education, business and politics, it made her rise to prominence from church singer to touring star all the more impressive.

Singers like MacLachlan gave Scots and Gaelic a voice as tourism boomed and music halls offered opportunities to entertain and be entertained.

After learning her trade in London, her career accelerated upon meeting husband Robert Buchanan, who was also her accompanying pianist.

MacLachlan travelled the world with her music and, as a favourite with the diaspora in Canada, New Zealand and the United States – she was the star of her day. Hers was the first Gaelic voice captured on record as the era of touring crossed over with advancements in recording at the end of the 19th century.

When war broke out in 1914, Jessie fell ill as she travelled back to Britain, aggravating a long-term lung condition which ultimately caused her death two years later aged 49.

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Kennedy said: “It was almost by coincidence that I and a few others with an interest in Gaelic and music came across Jessie Niven MacLachlan and her amazing, but short life.

“As a singer, it’s been a good opportunity for me to walk in her footsteps and to delve into her life at the end of the 19th century.

“She must have been a strong, brave woman who embraced the huge challenges of that era.

“Although we still face some of these challenges as women in the present-day music industry, we are completely indebted to Jessie being there to carve a new path for herself and us who have just got to know her.”

As part of the project, MacLachlan’s gravestone has been repinned, cleaned and the lead lettering revamped.

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Kennedy added: “It’s a way of bringing back to life the memory of a woman who contributed so much to music and language.

“It reminds us how important it is for us to keep history alive, to keep our ancestry alive and it is especially a reminder that there is still hope for our language, for Gaelic in this country and abroad.”

Trusadh: Jessie N MacLachlan – Queen of Melody airs on BBC Alba on Monday at 9pm