Singer June Tabor sweeps BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards

June Tabor with The Oysterband June Tabor (left) collected three awards with The Oysterband and one on her own

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Singer June Tabor, one of the venerated veterans of the English folk scene, has won four prizes at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards at The Lowry theatre in Salford.

Tabor was named folk singer of the year for the second time in her career.

She also shared the best group, best album and best traditional track awards with her collaborators The Oysterband.

Other winners included accordion and guitar virtuoso Tim Edey, who was named musician of the year and won best duo with harmonica player Brendan Power.

It was the first time the ceremony had been held outside London and the first time members of the public had been allowed to attend.

They gave rousing receptions to Irish stalwarts The Dubliners, who won a lifetime achievement award, and record producer Bill Leader, who was honoured with a "Good Tradition" award, for continuing the tradition of folk music.

The ceremony was held on the back of a renewed interest in the genre. Sales of folk albums rose by 20% in 2011, according to The Official Charts Company.

The Dubliners perform Dirty Old Town during the ceremony

Accepting her award for folk singer of the year, Tabor joked that she had been "too damn lazy" to learn to play an instrument and paid tribute to those she had worked with during her 35-year career.

"Behind me are a remarkable collection [of people] who have enabled me not just to use my voice but my mind and my heart in sharing the songs that I love most with you," she said.

A graduate of Oxford University who captained St Hugh's College on University Challenge in 1968, Tabor emerged on the folk scene in the 1970s.

She worked as a librarian in London while recording a string of acclaimed albums. She turned her back on singing in the 1980s to run a restaurant in Cumbria before returning to music at the end of the decade.

Tabor took her prizes after releasing two albums in 2011. Her solo effort Ashore was inspired by the sea. The other, Ragged Kingdom, was recorded with The Oysterband, 21 years after their first collaboration.

"They say never go back, but I think we got away with it this time," the band's John Jones said. "I've no idea what it is about us and June that clicks so well but I'm really, really pleased that it does."

Don McLean US singer Don McLean received a lifetime achievement award

The award for best original song was shared by singers Bella Hardy and Steve Tilston, while folk-rockers The Home Service, who reformed last year after 25 years apart, were named best live act.

As previously announced, Don McLean was presented with a lifetime achievement award by Radio 2 broadcaster Paul Gambaccini.

The singer, best known for hits including American Pie and Vincent, has amassed more than 40 gold and platinum records worldwide.

Other winners included 21-year-old Lucy Ward who won the Horizon award - which recognises the achievements of newcomers - and six-piece Irish band Ioscaid who picked up the Young Folk award.

Veteran singer Ian Campbell received a Good Tradition award and Malcolm Taylor, who has run the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at London's Cecil Sharp House for 30 years, was honoured with a Roots award.

But Northumberland singing sisters The Unthanks, who had four nominations, walked away empty handed.

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