WHEN Alyson Orr was a teenager, she auditioned for telly talent show Opportunity Knocks.

“Not the original one, the remake in the 80s with Bob Monkhouse,” smiles the singer. “I sang Evergreen, and I didn’t make it on to the show. But the casting director gave me a really good piece of advice afterwards.

“He said – are you a big Barbra Streisand fan, by any chance? When I said yes, he nodded and said it was obvious, that I sounded a lot like her but because we already had Babs, we didn’t need another one and I should try and find my own style…”

Alyson did find her “own style”, very successfully, and has been working as a singer, actor and producer all over Scotland for the last 20 years, best known as one-third of awardwinning vocal trio The Swingcats.

But it is to Babs she returns this year, for her first solo show and the culmination of a lifelong love of the famous American singer and her work.

“My mum had the album for A Star is Born and when I was a child I listened to it obsessively,” says Alyson, who is originally from Erskine.

“I was only nine at the time, so I was too young to go and see the film in the cinema, so I just listened to the soundtrack. When I finally did see the film, it filled in the gaps and suddenly it all made sense.”

She adds: “I just loved her voice, the music, particularly the jazz and swing songs – I remember walking in to a second-hand record shop in the west end when I was a student, and someone had just handed in 10 of her albums. They were on sale for about 50p each, so I thought – I’m having those.

“I went to see her at the O2 in 2007 and it was the best concert I have ever been to. She was 60-something but still sounded amazing. Meryl Streep was in the audience that night – nowhere near me, I was in the cheap seats, but it was still exciting to be in the same room!”

Evergreen: A Tribute to Barbra Streisand is exactly that – not an impersonation, but a celebration of the biggest-selling female recording artist in history, featuring some of her best-loved songs such as Don’t Rain On My Parade, Woman in Love and the title hit, Evergreen.

“It’s the songs, a bit of her story, a bit of my story – a real mix,” nods Alyson. “It’s not me trying to be a soundalike, far from it, it’s about paying tribute to her and I hope people like it.

“Streisand was a big fan of Frank Sinatra, so one of my favourites to do is his song, In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning. But I think my all-time favourite is Evergreen.”

It’s the first time Alyson has toured with her own band - and she admits it will be very different performing on stage without her fellow Swingcats, Laura Ellis and Nicola Auld.

“It’s definitely scarier,” she laughs. “I will miss the Swingcats on stage as we’re a real team. But the band I have are amazing and it will be great to be on stage with them.”

The tour kicks off on August 30 and runs until October 14, visiting venues all over the Central Belt. Afterwards, Alison will be back on stage at the Pavilion Theatre, due to reopen soon following its closure after the Sauchiehall Street fire.

“I’m doing the Witches Fae Easterhoose, and then, for the first time ever, appearing IN the panto at the Pavilion,” she says. “I’m usually helping out with musical direction, but the opportunity to play the Fairy Godmother came up, and I thought – why not?

“I’ve been in loads of pantos, but never Cinderella, and it’s my favourite.”

The Swingcats are back in action at the Scottish International Airshow in Ayr in September, so the next few months will be non-stop, Alyson agrees.

“I’m really concentrating on my singing for the moment – I love acting, of course, and producing, but singing is what I want to do right now,” she explains.

“I’m just back from New York, where I took part in a singing workshop run by actress and musical theatre legend Betty Buckley.

“It was amazing, getting the chance to meet her and get to know so many different people from all kinds of backgrounds.”

She adds: “She was tough, but fair. I loved it, and learned a lot. I’ve been singing for 20 years but I feel like I can still learn, of course. We can all keep learning, no matter what we do.”

Evergreen kicks off at the Ayr Gaiety Theatre on August 30, before visiting Pitlochry Festival Theatre on September 2, Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh on September 13, Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline on September 15, Howden Park Centre, Livingston on September 16, Falkirk Town Hall on September 29, East Kilbride Arts Centre on October 13 and Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock on October 14.