Wales

Staying hungry is the trick, in this job.

Complacency, narrow-mindedness and delusions of your own importance are the biggest threat to making vital, new music radio.

But as I get older, I’m unhappy to admit, it gets harder. The energy you need to pinball around the country in the early hours, checking out music-makers and venues in far-flung places, isn’t as easily summoned as it once was.

Atrophying on the sofa with a box set is much more achievable.

Gabrielle Murphy performs for Radio Wales Music Day

So, it becomes easy to end up relying on tried and tested sources of music. The flow is staunched and the well goes stagnant and then dries up entirely.

I wake up in cold sweats worrying about this happening to me.

It was this anxiety that forced me out of my hotel bed during last year’s Sŵn Festival in Cardiff.

There were lots of familiar names playing in the city, places I could go where I’d get a pat on the back and a smile of welcome from faces I know. But that’s how the stagnancy starts.

Instead I caught a taxi to Chapter Arts Centre. The Young Promoters’ Network, an excellent organisation set up to help young musical talent in the Rhondda, were hosting a stage there.

I didn’t know any of the artists playing but it proved to be the best decision I made that weekend.

Gabrielle Murphy is one of the twelve Horizons artists

I saw a lot of remarkable potential. Great smarts from the likes of Paint Happy and Glass Giants and I had one of those rare-as-unicorn-twins moments, where I got to witness a truly world-class talent for the first time.

There was something different about Gabrielle Murphy the moment she took to the stage.

She was smiling, for a start, exuding a natural joy and confidence. She wore a Led Zeppelin t-shirt and sang like Rihanna covering Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.

There was no stage school vibrato, just a soulful tremor in a voice that’ll wrap itself around the most cynical hearts, and give them a squeeze. She sounded astonishing.

Gabby has that almost indefinable ‘it’ quality. She’s a different entity, entirely, to those we see on TV talent shows.

Her glow is natural and all about her voice, her writing, her music.

There’s no neediness, no staged desperation, no pretence that she wants this more than anything else in the world, ever. I mean, she probably does, but she doesn’t need to say it.

The need you hear in her voice and her brilliant music is emotional, the heartbeat of the songs.

Gabrielle Murphy - Lockdown

I was so impressed, I badgered her into performing live on my show that night, where she was equally brilliant.

It was no surprise to me, then, that she was chosen to be one of BBC Wales / Arts Council of Wales Horizons artists.

Horizons is an exciting new initiative that will support and showcase 12 of this country’s finest, upcoming music talents over the next year.

The Horizons 12 were announced on Friday, during the fifth Radio Wales Music Day and Gabby came in and sang two songs for us.

She’s only 17, from Treherbert in the Rhondda, and, without wishing to trot out the usual, vacuous cliches, this is the beginning of something special. No, really!

Have a listen to Lockdown and remember the name. It's well worth getting out of bed for.

Listen to Adam Walton on BBC Radio Wales on Saturdays at 22.00

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