Annually, the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award uncovers some exceptional talent. This year, 47 acts comprising a total of 79 musicians entered from across the UK. Fourteen acts were selected by competition organisers Folkworks to go through to the semi-final, a weekend of workshops, sessions and socializing centred around the Saturday evening competition concert, which took place on October 14th-16th at Kendal's Brewery Arts Centre. After an extremely close-run contest, the six winners going through to the final at the Sage Gateshead in December are: |
Singer/songwriter aged 18 from Lincolnshire.
James has been playing for ten years. His main inspirations were his father, who used to play guitar and sing to him, and the tapes of Steve Knightley that were played in the car on long train journeys. The highlight of his career so far has been playing at Strawberry Fair, and since leaving school this year he is trying for success as a full time musician.
Fiddle singer aged 20 from Aberdeenshire.
Shona was inspired to start singing six years ago while competing in fiddle and Doric poetry competitions. She is particularly interested in Bothy Ballads and Doric language and songs, and her major influences are Jock Duncan, Geordie Murison and Joe Aitken. As well as twice being a finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year, Shona studies at the RSAMD and has recently played at the Tønder Festival in Denmark.
Sextet from Plockton:
Gillian Chalmers, 17, pipes/fiddle/whistles
Ross Couper, 17, fiddle
Tia Files, 16, acoustic/bass guitars
Sandie Forbes, 18, fiddle/vocals
Norrie MacIver, 18, accordion/guitar/djembe/vocals
June Naylor, 17, clarsach/piano
The band (formerly FIDDLE DEE FIDDLE DUM) formed earlier this year after meeting at the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music (NCETM), Plockton, in 2004. Aberdeenshire-born Gillian has won many competitions and is studying for BA Scottish Studies (Piping) at the RSAMD. Ross is from Shetland, is enrolled on Newcastle University's BA Folk and Traditional Music course and has been playing with Fiddler's Bid. From Oban, Tia has played in many festivals and competitions and is still studying at the NCETM. Classically-trained Sandie started to play traditional music at 14; she is studying for a BA in Applied Music at Strathclyde University. Norrie, from the Isle of Lewis, has won Gaelic singing prizes at The Narional MOD and Seo Sein and is studying for a BA in Scottish Music at the RSAMD. Despite only playing the Clarsach for five years, June has already won many prizes and is studying for a BA in Applied Music at Strathclyde University.
Melodeon player aged 16 from Cumbria.
Joe has been playing the melodeon for five years since joining a Folkworks scheme taught by Mike Willoughby in schools. He performs in his school ceilidh band and is also a member of Folkestra. He was part of the 'Road to the North' tour with Folkestra earlier this year, playing alongside the Kathryn Tickell Band, Alistair Anderson, Louis Killen and The Old Rope String Band. His musical influences include Julian Sutton, Andy Cutting, Sharon Shannon, 422, The Old Rope String Band, the Unusual Suspects and Jools Holland.
Sextet from Newcastle:
Julia Ross, 17, flute/whistle
Georgia Ross, 15, fiddle
Matthew Jones, 17, guitar
David Jones, 17, fiddle
Jane Brown, 16, fiddle
Lucy Walker, 16, fiddle
Southwind have only been playing together for a year in this line-up. When they started, all the members were beginners on their instruments and aged only nine and ten. Many of the older players have since gone away to University and the current line up of six players has evolved. They have recently recorded their debut CD and supported Blazin' Fiddles as well as playing at London's Royal Festival Hall. Earlier this year they played during the Tall Ships Race in Newcastle and were featured on TV. Their main influences include Stewart Hardy, Ian Stephenson and Kathryn Tickell, as well as a number of students from the Folk and Traditional Music degree in Newcastle.
Multi-instrumentalist aged 15 from Scotland.
Matheu is from Ross-shire and is one of the youngest participants in this year's semi-finals. He started playing fiddle about five years ago with the Kiltearn Fiddlers through Feis Rois, and whistles about two and a half years ago. He won a Danny Kyle Award at Celtic Connections with the band Tassle Bandits and has participated in Donald Shaw's Harvest. His main influences include Brian Finnegan, Gordon Gunn, Bruce Molsky and AC/DC!
Fourteen acts took part in the semi-final, and great performances were given by all. Congratulations for achieving the semi-final to Northern Ireland trio Sliabh Mis, harp duo Rachel Newton & Fiona Rutherford, singer/songwriter Lucy Kitt, Derbyshire quartet Dyná, Irish singer/flautist Alana Henderson, instrumental duo James Boyle & Kevin Lees, London duo Emily & Hazel Askew and Sheffield singer/songwriter Charlie Barker.