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13 November 2014

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You are in: Tyne > Entertainment > Entertainment features > Folk group riding high

Rachel Unthank & The Winterset

The Bairns was released in 2007

Folk group riding high

Northumberland quartet Rachel Unthank & The Winterset lost out to Elbow at the 2008 Mercury Prize, but they are still riding high.

Rachel Unthank & The Winterset have attracted a great deal of attention recently.

The release of their second album in 2007 and a busy schedule of live performances won them plenty of positive reviews.

Then in February 2008 they were named winners of the Horizon Award for best emerging artist at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

The attention continued when they made it onto the 12-strong shortlist for the 2008 Mercury Prize.

Rachel Unthank & The Winterset

The band are thrilled by the news

In the end Elbow won the prize with their album The Seldom Seen Kid, but the Mercury nomination has still helped to boost Rachel Unthank & the Winterset's profile.

'Excited and overwhelmed'

The Northumberland quartet is made up of Rachel Unthank and her sister Becky along with Belinda O'Hooley and Niopha Keegan.

When the nominations were announced in July 2008 Rachel and Becky said they were "excited and overwhelmed" by their appearance on the shortlist.

Speaking to Jon Harle on BBC Radio Newcastle after the nomination was made public Rachel said: "It's pretty exciting, we are over the moon about it, we can't believe it."

"To be at this stage is just more than you can imagine really because when you make music and you make an album you don't really think about awards and things you just try to make something that you are pleased with and happy for other people to listen to," Rachel added.

Becky and Rachel Unthank

The sisters come from a musical family

Rachel, Becky and their father George, also a musician, spoke to Look North about the nomination and their music. You can watch the interviews using the links below.

Other nominees for the prestigious music prize included Estelle, The Last Shadow Puppets and Radiohead.

Folk roots

The Northumberland quartet received the nomination for their second album, The Bairns, released in 2007.

"We are very lucky that we have got such a rich culture in the North East and we really do."

Rachel Unthank

Rachel and Becky spoke to BBC Radio Newcastle's Alfie Joey in December 2007 and explained how the title came about.

"It wasn't on purpose but all of these songs seem to relate to children in some way - women being pregnant, lost children, lullabies, songs about children that have got lost and are coming back again," Rachel said.

"So it was a really common theme and we just picked up on that and thought it would be a nice title."

They also spoke about how their involvement with folk music came from their parents' love of it.

Rachel said: "Folk music was always part of our lives. So we have always enjoyed folk music."


They said they had been able to take advantage of the rich tradition of folk music in the north-east of England.


Radiohead have also been nominated

Rachel said: "We are very lucky that we have got such a rich culture in the North East and we really do.

"Song-wise we have got songs from the sea and songs from the Tall Ships, from the river and from the mines and the industry and from the Border ballads, all the great fights and magical things.

"There is just so much that we are really lucky. And then there are all the tunes and we have got our own instrument, the pipes, and then there's the dancing, the clog dancing, the rapper dancing.

"We really are very lucky and we feel really happy to go out and promote that and show people about our great culture."

last updated: 10/09/2008 at 08:51
created: 05/02/2008

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