The Water of Leith runs through the heart of Edinburgh, flowing for 24 miles from the Pentland Hills down to the port of Leith.

Run by Creative Lives, 'Mouth of the River' celebrates this well-loved waterway, home to an abundance of flora, fauna and wildlife, which for centuries played a vital role in Edinburgh's industrial life.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the project had to change considerably from the plans originally laid down in February 2020. However the desired outcome - a beautiful new song about the Water of Leith for the choirs of Edinburgh to sing - has still been achieved. 

Here's how it came about . . . 

Stage One - Getting to know the river

Members of six choirs across Edinburgh were invited to learn more about the Water of Leith via audio trails and walks.

Stage Two - Sharing our stories

Thoughts, feelings, memories and anecdotes about the Water of Leith were gathered from the choir members during a series of Zoom meetings, in partnership with songwriter Kim Edgar

Stage Three - Songwriting

Incorporating words and phrases shared by choir members during the feedback sessions, Kim wrote a beautiful song, celebrating the Water of Leith and what it means to people. Kim also created a range of helpful resources to help choirs learn and perform the song.

Stage Four - Recording and Sharing

The finished song, 'The River Speaks' was learned and recorded at a 'Come and Sing' session on 14 October 2023 in central Edinburgh. A video and podcast capturing the process and the song itself will be shared in spring 2024.

The song will then be gifted to any choir in Edinburgh that would like to include it in their repertoires. 

The Choirs

We are grateful to the six Edinburgh-based choirs (all of whom meet in venues along the Water of Leith, from Balerno to Leith) who shared their personal thoughts, feelings and memories about the river. These feedback sessions were invaluable to songwriter, Kim Edgar and played a large part in helping her shape the song. You can read more about the choirs here:

Pentland Singers Community Choir & Junior Choir - Based in Balerno, the Pentland Singers has a membership of around 85 mixed voices, plus a Junior Choir with around 25 members. The choirs welcome anyone who enjoys singing. 

Springwell Golden Voices - A community choir for older people, Springwell Golden Voices is based in west-central Edinburgh. The choir meets on Thursday mornings and anyone who enjoys singing is welcome to join.

Loud & Proud - Scotland’s first LGBT choir, Loud & Proud has been going since 2005 and its members have a wide variety of singing and musical talents. The choir rehearses every Monday evening in Stockbridge and is always looking for new members.

The Welcoming Choir - The Welcoming supports newcomers to learn English, find jobs and access local services in Edinburgh, providing opportunities for friendship, creativity, health and well-being.  The Welcoming Choir is no longer running but may do again in the future. 

The Cheyne Gang - A community singing group for people living with long-term respiratory conditions (such as COPD, Asthma, Bronchiectasis), The Cheyne Gang meets in a number of locations, including Stockbridge and Leith. The group welcomes anyone with a respiratory condition that causes long-term breathlessness.

Phoenix Community Choir - Based in Leith, the Phoenix Choir has a range of voices, from complete beginners to seasoned singers. They meet every Monday evening, everything is taught by ear and new members are always welcome.

Want to sing 'The River Speaks' with your choir?

Although we have yet to record the song, Kim Edgar's folder of resources is extensive and available for free to any choir that would like to learn and sing 'The River Speaks'. For more information, please contact Kelly Donaldson at Creative Lives on email: [email protected]


Mouth of the River was supported by NatureScot through Plunge In! The Coasts and Waters Community FundYou can read about the other wonderful projects across Scotland funded by Plunge In! here