I’ve never seen shell shock, but when Joe and Megan Henwood walked back on stage as winners of the Young Folk Award 2009, I got a fair idea of how it might look.
Every year it seems the judges have a more difficult task to decide the winner.
I’d have given them all an award - their undoubted quality merited it - but there had to be a winner, no matter how difficult the choice.
And the winner is...
The judges deliberated, as judges do, and it was Jim Moray who stepped up to the podium to produce an envelope from his jacket and pronounce Megan and Joe Henwood this year’s winners.
It was a popular choice.
Apparently the interval bar crowd had predicted the win, and rumour has it it’s the first time they’ve been right in 11 years!
Nominees and GCSEs
Getting to talk to the winners after the photo session was quite an achievement, like herding cats.
Every time I trapped Joe, Megan wandered off and twelve more people swarmed up to offer congratulations and to mention Joe’s GCSEs…
At last! A few moments peace, and I discovered that mum, Lucie Henwood, was a musical influence.
She’d been at Nettlebed Folk Club in its early years, working behind the bar and singing the odd song. And she was the lady who suggested saxophone when Joe had decided a French horn might be the thing to play.
At the beginning
At 15, Joe is a superb saxophonist and cites Charlie Parker as a major influence.
He and Megan started playing together about three years ago and as well as being brother and sister they are the best of friends.
Joe’s the younger by five years but he says he looks out for Megan.
Making music together
Megan says Joe’s saxophone accompaniment is just perfect, very sensitive, and just what she wants to go with her lyrics.
She’s been writing songs since she was nine.
“They were just awful,” she says, “quite soppy!”
But as the writing became more of a natural process she realised it was her passion. Joe also cites life experience. “She’s got more to talk about now!”
And in my spare time...
Joe still has schoolwork to think about. He’s just into his GCSEs, so he’s about to have a very busy year.
Although he likes all sorts of music he says he loves folk for its “raw natural energy”.
Megan’s two passions are song writing and travelling.
She’s spent some time in Nepal and recorded in Kathmandu with some top Nepalese folk singers.
She says she’s fallen in love with the country and the way the Nepalese approach their music “with so much passion and energy”.
As a brother and sister duo they have that amazing ability to connect mentally on stage and sound just wonderful together. There are going to be discussions on the theme of ’is it folk?’ but I believe they’ll convince festival audiences in 2009 that they deserve their title.
Megan and Joe are about to have a great year.
Last year’s winners, Jeana Leslie and Siobhan Miller certainly did, and, typically of YFA winners they came back and treated us to a much more assured and professional performance.
And for the future? Well, there’s a lot of work coming up, and Joe would like to play in a metal band. Oh, and Megan’s favourite colour is purple.