However, it wasn’t long before her rich, distinctive singing voice and endearingly self-effacing stage presence made others sit up and take notice, leading to solo shows and performances as far-flung and prestigious as the Sydney Opera House.
“I was really self-conscious of performing before Edinburgh,” says Lady Carol, recovering well from a bout of the dreaded Fringe flu midway through this year’s run. “Paul and I were friends and I told him I could sing…”
Although it’s hard to turn a corner in Edinburgh now without being confronted by someone brandishing a ukulele, back then, Lady Carol’s talents with the instrument were something of a novelty.
“I’d been given a ukulele as a present about three months before,” she says. “But I thought to myself it was a case of now or never, and taught myself how to play it. And something seemed to click — you could say Edinburgh launched me.”
Understandably then, Lady Carol loves the city — and not just in August.
“It’s so beautiful whenever you visit,” she says, “a real blindsiding place. And, of course, nowhere quite like it during the Fringe.”
This year, Lady Carol returns to Edinburgh with a five-star new show, Betwixt & Between, in which she intersperses the well-chosen songs in her set with personal stories and anecdotes, often choosing numbers which relate to the things she talks about.
“I love tinkering with the structure of the show,” she says. “Sometimes I have songs I know I want to perform and other times I find ones to fit in with the stories.”
The songs in her latest show, Lady Carol: Betwixt & Between, are an eclectic mix of modern covers and old folk & roots numbers: sometimes well-known, often obscure. What they share is a thread of storytelling, something which Irish-born Lady Carol is a great fan of.
“Music can be such a great trigger,” she says. “Sometimes they’re songs I know well, others are ones I’m aware of — I did a road trip in the states recently, and some of the songs on the car radio…I knew I had to include them.”
Similar to other artistes who Lady Carol admires, she focuses almost exclusively on covers.
“The comedy song in the new show is my own,” she says, “but I suppose my writing comes out in the stories rather than the songs.”
“Besides, you have to give people what they want and expect at a Fringe show — there’s a fine line between expressing yourself and being self-indulgent.”
Lady Carol doesn’t see herself as part of any particular scene, and retains creative control over her own show and future direction.
“I just want to sing,” she says, laughing. ”I’ve no idea what I’m doing next. No great plan, really — just to get through this run!”
And it’s a run we strongly recommend you catch. Completely original and utterly compelling, Lady Carol’s songs resonate with an affecting and emotional power which, for us, make her the Voice of the Fringe.
Lady Carol Betwixt & Between is at the Assembly Rooms until 25 August at 18:15. She will also be appearing at a special one-off benefit Fullmooners show — Paulmooners — on 21 August at 23:59 at Underbelly Bristo Square.