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Soul Searching: Martha Wainwright

When I was seven ...

I attended a girls' schools and every so often we used to have something called "free dress". That mean we could wear the clothes we wanted to and I always took the opportunity to be as expressive as I could. I would wear things like five men's ties at the same time and different shoes on each foot. I don't know about being creative, perhaps more clownish.

The first time my heart was broken ...

I was a freshman in high school and in love with a senior, but it turned out he and my best friend were carrying on behind my back. To not hurt my feelings they kept it a secret, but I soon discovered they were in "teenage love" which you can't get in the way of. We didn't stay friends for long.

The wisest thing my grandmother told me ...

She practically brought me up in many ways because when we were young my mother [singer/songwriter Kate McGarrigle] toured. My grandmother potty-trained me. One of the funniest things I remember is that, when she was in her eighties, she would wear this old T-shirt I had owned as a teenager that said: "F--- the system" and it was her favourite.

The biggest adversity I have overcome ...

Having a child who almost didn't make it. My son Arcangelo was born prematurely when we were on tour [in 2009]. I was on stage in London and didn't feel well. He was born a few hours afterwards. It required my husband and I to stay mentally strong and capable for him. I never imagined that would happen. It was a huge shock and scary. We overcame it and he has since flourished.

My motto for life ...

I wish I did [have one]. Perhaps my path would be more clear. Probably to have fun would be my philosophy.

My soul mate is ...

My husband [musician Brad Albetta]. We are very different and he challenges me – often my patience as well. As a female artist, men can sometimes feel threatened or difficult to have the focus on a woman. Without Brad's help and support I think I would feel very lost.

The most inspiring book I've read was ...

In my youth The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov was visually very exciting to me. I think Graham Greene is a great author too.

What I look for in a friend is ...

Honesty and loyalty.

If ever I feel lonely I ...

Pick up the guitar. If you can write a song or the beginnings of something, that can be very satisfying.

I believe the secret to a strong relationship is ...

Transparency and communication.

Something I wish I'd done earlier ...

Had children. Although then, of course, I wouldn't have had the fun I did my twenties. I had a great wild bohemian time. Being physically young when you have children is probably the best time in a way. I would have liked to have a child in my twenties, one in my thirties and another in my forties. That would have been interesting.

My childhood hero was ...

Nina Simone. When I realised she was playing the piano at the same time as singing that was an incredible moment for me. I know a lot of women can do that, of course, but to see it on such a sophisticated level hugely affected me.

The place I most like to call home ...

Montreal. I can't help it, I grew up there.

Martha Wainwright will perform at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall as part of Celtic Connections on January 29. For ticket information, call 0141 353 8000 or visit www.celticconnections.com

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