From an early age, Scott has always enjoyed music. A member of his primary school choir and a keen but perhaps not-so-talented violin player, Scott was 11 years old when he was volunteered to sing karaoke at a holiday camp his family were visiting in Essex. The resulting performance of Abba’s ‘Mama Mia’ changed everything and gave him a passion for singing.
Born in Dundee but living in Stockton-on-Tees, England, Scott was very much a child who liked his own space. In the school playground you would often find him on his own – a part of the background for the other schoolchildren yet intelligent beyond his years. He was set apart from the other children in class and had virtually no friends. Years of evaluations would show nothing but that his attitude, actions and outlook on life were simply the result of being an only child but when, aged 13, he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of Autism, an answer was finally given.
Heavily bullied and socially withdrawn, Scott spent every spare moment in his bedroom, withdrawing into his music and other hobbies. He wistfully remembers learning to hold a tune and use vibrato from repeated plays and performances of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” – something he finds a little embarrassing to admit.. and something the neighbours may have gotten a little tired of!
Leaving school at 16 and struggling through college, Scott took on working with his father at 17 – something that greatly helped him overcome his fear of social situations. He would take on performing a few songs for customers on an evening after work was finished. When not working, he was recording amateur songs in his bedroom, something his mother, Shaz would listen to from the bottom of the stairs – sometimes for hours at a time.
It was this recording that led to Scott being taken to a local recording studio for the first time with the view of recording a song for real. Recording his first professional quality song, a cover of David Sneddon’s “Stop Living The Lie”, Scott became friends with the recording studio engineer and his partner and began to work with and learn from them, sometimes being taken to professional gigs for experience. Although every performance was nerve-wracking, audience reception was often very warm and supportive, with many audience members urging an audition for Britain’s Got Talent or The X Factor.
At the age of 21, Scott did just that and registered for an audition with ITV’s The X Factor.
When asked his reason for auditoning, Scott replied that many have a prejudgement of Autism and those affected by it, and his goal was to break that stigma. Scott recounts the audition: “It was absolutely frightening. Walking onto the stage and locking eyes with thousands of people and four of the most well-known names on British TV was terrifying!” Luckily for Scott, his performance of Secret Garden’s “You Raise Me Up” was a smash-hit and earned him four yes votes from the judges – Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Dannii Minogue and Louis Walsh – and a pass into the next round, which he would also pass and continue forward several more stages before leaving the competition as one of the final 50 competitors.
Despite how difficult the experience was, Scott has no regrets. “It gave me a massive platform to promote Autism awareness. After my audition was screened on TV Google searches for Autism and mental health disorders surged! People were coming up and thanking me for helping to prove that Autism isn’t the end of the world,” he recalls. “It was – and is – a massive privilege to be linked to something so positive. The blood, sweat and tears were worth it!”
Approached a month later with the offer of recording a song for Autism awareness, “Through My Eyes”, Scott worked with Sydney-based Valerie Foley, who wrote the lyrics in dedication to her son, Billy, to record the track and released it on April 2nd, 2011. The song is now classed as an ‘anthem for Autism’ and has been played, heard and purchased around the world with a message that still stands strong half a decade later.
Since then, Scott has worked with dozens of Autism organizations to help raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for charities in the past seven years – from singing at charity balls and events to public speaking (although he says he’s a novice!) about his experiences and living with Autism. In doing so he has travelled up and down the United Kingdom and has worked to raise awareness, acceptance and funding in Canada and Europe, picking up an award for performing arts along the way. Alongside that, Scott likes to support charities outside of the Autism spectrum – and shows no signs of stopping yet!