A RENOWNED Greenock opera singer whose career was cruelly cut short by illness has turned tragedy into triumph by becoming a successful author.

International soprano Linda Esther Gray performed all over the world in the seventies and eighties alongside all the big names and at iconic venues.

The multi-award winning singer starred with and was mentored by the legendary Dame Eva Turner — later writing a book about her life and work.

She was also photographed by David Bailey and performed for the Queen, the Royal Family and government ministers.

A life-threatening illness in 1982 led to the loss of her voice, forcing Linda to retire from singing three years later and she had to learn how to speak again.

After years spent coming to terms with the abrupt end to her musical career, Linda turned to writing and has now penned her fourth book and her first novel, ‘Sing! Don’t Drown’, which she will launch at the Beacon Arts Centre tomorrow.

Linda told the Telegraph: “I had to learn to speak and sing again — so singing was absolutely done for.

“I sing now but I don’t perform.

“But that’s just life and I couldn’t possibly do nothing.

“I was young — I wasn’t 40 when I had the illness — and after four years I knew I wasn’t going to get my voice back.

“Writing wasn’t planned. It was cathartic for me — it helped.

“There’s some similarities in that you build characters in the book and that’s what you have to do with singing and performing.”

Linda, 69, is married to Greenock man Peter McCrorie — brother of well-known former Greenock Academy teacher Ian — and they have a daughter Kirsty.

She now lives and works just outside London and is still in demand all over the UK and abroad as a vocal coach and teacher of the art of singing and performing.

Her new psychological mystery, set in the opera world, is her first foray into fiction.

Linda says she’s thrilled to be unveiling it in her home town, which she regularly visits to meet family and friends.
It also inspired the name of her company, Green Oak Publishing.

The former Greenock Academy pupil will give a talk at the Beacon about her colourful life and career before answering questions.

Linda said: “I’m not sure whether there will be two people or 20 people there but I’ll be enjoying myself anyway.

“It’s a novel and complete fiction — but you only ever write about what you know.

“My roots are firmly here and the book starts in Greenock in the 1940s and then the mystery heads to London in the 70s and San Carlo, Naples.

“I’ll be 70 this year and that’s a time for reflection and realisation that you need to do what you want to do.”

Admission to tomorrow’s event, which starts at 11am, is free and all are welcome.

To buy the book and for more from Linda visit www.singbelcanto.com