Edith Leslie, her mother, was a noted performer with Broughty Ferry Amateur Operatic Society and introduced Gelda to a range of music, from light opera to Wagner. Gelda won the 1954 Leng Gold Medallist in Dundee High School, studied art at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee, trained as a teacher and worked in schools in Dundee, the Borders and Fife along with her husband Alan Bell.

She joined Tayside Opera in 1972 as Pamina in The Magic Flute and followed it the next year in a memorable production of Rigoletto with William Dewar and a professional tenor. Thereafter she sang many principal roles with Tayside Opera. She also used her artistic talent in the research, design and making of her costumes for her operatic appearances. Her concert and oratorio performances were many and varied and stretched over a wide area of the east of Scotland.

During her lifetime she also sang with Melrose Opera, the Edinburgh Gilbert and Sullivan Society, Edinburgh Grand Opera and Fife Opera, and co-founded the touring group Cavatina. Her obituary in The Scotsman tells us that: “A notable achievement in 1977 was a famous premiere production of Delibes’ Lakme under the baton of the legendary musician and broadcaster Neville Garden, in which she sang the title role. Garden had been told by experts that tackling such an ambitious project with amateurs was impossible but later, on BBC Radio, he used her recording of the taxing Bell Song to illustrate his point that there was little professionals could teach performers of Gelda’s standard about beautiful singing.”