Kenneth McKellar was born and brought up in Paisley where his father owned a grocery shop. Although there were no musicians at home, the McKellar family nevertheless loved music and often listened to opera on the gramophone. As a child of three or four he sat for hours absorbed in the power of the great singers like Peter Dawson, Paul Robeson, Norman Allin and Richard Tauber.
Kenneth McKellar's great talent as a singer first came to public notice in 1947 through a broadcast with the BBC in Glasgow. In the early 1950s he found himself recording for the Parlophone label.
As soon as he graduated from the Royal College of Music, Kenneth joined the Carl Rosa Opera Company. He started out in the chorus but "by pure chance" was given an opportunity to sing the opening aria from The Barber of Seville. He toured with the company for two seasons but didn't really like the environment of opera. However, in 1965, Benjamin Britten did persuade him to join the English Opera Group at the Aldeburgh Festival and at the Champs Elysee Theatre in Paris in the part of McHeath in "The Beggar's Opera".
A year after he left opera for good he signed with the Decca Record Company where he remained for over 25 years during which time he recorded some 35 or more LPs which have sold many millions of copies throughout the world. His Songs of Robert Burns album is regarded in Scotland as the definitive Burns collection. His recordings in Paisley Abbey, Sacred Songs and Hosana are among the best-loved ever to come out of Scotland. Thanks to the wonders of digital recording some of Kenneth McKellar's most memorable songs have now been re-released by Decca.