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folk

Kate Young

Kate Young

Events with Kate

Kate Young is a Scottish singer, fiddle player and composer. She specialises in combining her experience of world musics such as her training in Bulgarian traditional singing with fiddle accompaniment and is constantly exploring new ways to combine her writing, informed by traditions with string quintet. 

In 2014 her band Kate in the Kettle's debut album, ‘Swimmings of the Head’ was received with high acclaim from Songlines, The Guardian, and MOJO. It proved as a celebration of innovation and the weaving together of similarities between Scottish, Scandinavian and Indian traditions. Kate Young is also known for her work with Songs of Separation (BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017 - Album of the Year), Carthy, Oates, Farrell & Young and the Moulettes.

After a successful showcase of her ‘New Voices’ commission at Celtic Connections last year, 2017 saw Kate in the Kettle joined by an exciting new line-up with fresh songs arranged for string quintet, which explore the folkloric traditions surrounding plant medicine.

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Francesca Simmons

Francesca Simmons

Events with Francesca

Francesca Simmons, is a violinist and independent artist from North Wales, now living in Bristol.

She currently plays violin and musical saw with folk-improv instrumental trio Rock of Eye, and for live animation outfit The Paper Cinema. Performing under her solo moniker Madame Česki, she self-released her debut album Palimpsest in 2016 with airplay on Radio3, Radio 6 Music and BBC Radio Cymru/Radio Wales.

Other session and performing work has included working alongside Sam Lee, Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals), Spiro, Collectress, Fiona Bevan, The Heritage Orchestra, DJ Yoda, Marques Toliver, and Lleuwen Steffan. Francesca has also performed with Giffords Circus, Secret Cinema, and Sound UK.

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Barbara Dickson

Barbara Dickson

Events with Barbara

As a multi-million selling recording artist with an equally impressive Olivier Award winning acting career, Barbara Dickson OBE has firmly established herself as one of the most enduring and popular artistes in Britain today. 

Born in Dunfermline, Scotland, Barbara’s love of music was evident from an early age – she began studying piano at the age of five and by twelve had also taken up the guitar. She developed an interest in folk music whilst at school which led to floor spots singing at her local folk club. After relocating to Edinburgh, she went on to combine a day job in the Civil Service whilst steadily pursuing her first love, music, in local pubs and clubs. The watershed moment came in 1968 when, after being refused leave from her job for an overseas singing engagement, Barbara resigned, determined to pursue a career for herself in the burgeoning folk scene of the late ‘60’s. 

The next few years saw her gradually ‘paying her dues’ on the Scottish and English folk circuit, steadily building a reputation and working with the likes of Billy Connolly, Gerry Rafferty, Rab Noakes and Archie Fisher. Early folk albums, which she recorded for Trailer and Decca Records, were well received. Barbara readily admits that she would have been happy to continue her life as a travelling folk musician, but a meeting with an old friend, musician and playwright Willy Russell, in Liverpool in the early 70s was to change the course of her career completely. 

She is currently working on a new studio album, a follow-up her recent live album, ‘In Good Company,’ which will feature some of her favourite songs recorded with a string quartet featuring new arrangements by John O'Hara, and she is also planning another release which she hopes will coincide with her next full band tour in early 2019. Whilst Barbara remains modest about her many achievements, with seventeen Platinum and Gold albums to her name she remains Scotland’s biggest-selling female singer of all time. 

Aly Bain, the great folk musician, has described her as having the best female voice ever to come out of Scotland whilst Billy Connolly says “from the very first time I heard her, her voice just nailed me to the wall. She’s just a one-off.” Barbara is quick to dismiss this politely as pure opinion, but the accolades she has received over the years undoubtedly recognise that she has been touched with a gift that is of great importance to her and, more importantly, to her audience. 

“Singing is not,” she says, “about technique but what is in your heart. That is the secret”.

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Jarlath Henderson

Jarlath Henderson

Events with Jarlath

From County Armagh, Jarlath Henderson has been playing the uilleann pipes since the age of 10. A talented and versatile musician, Jarlath also plays whistle, flute, cittern and has recently been winning over audiences with song.

In 2003 he became the first and only Irish solo artist to win the prestigious BBC Young Folk Musician of the Year Award, which led to him being invited to play at some of the most prestigious festivals in Europe. Jarlath is a three times ‘All-­­Ireland Champion’ Uilleann Piper, a teacher both in Ireland and Scotland and has featured in numerous BBC television programmes on piping and music. In 2008 he released his first album, 'Partners in Crime' (Vertical Records) with fellow border piper Ross Ainslie, followed by their second release 'Air-Fix' in 2013. Both albums received outstanding critical acclaim from the general folk world, with the debut release being voted '6th Best Folk Album' of 2008 by Mojo Magazine.

When not performing with his band, solo or alongside Ross Ainslie, Jarlath regularly guests with Scottish folk legends Capercaillie, Salsa Celtica and in Phil Cunningham's annual Hogmanay house band. This year in Ireland he will be playing with his sister Alana Henderson, the Cara Dillon Band, Atlantic Arc Orchestra and Cathy Jordan and Mick Daly.

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Bella Hardy

Bella Hardy

Bella grew up in Edale in the Peak District, and now lives in Glasgow. Although the Hardy family sang in the local choir, it was a combination of her childhood love for ballad books and visits to local folk festivals that decided her future. At 13 she began performing at Cambridge and Sidmouth festivals and in 2004 reached the final of the BBC Young Folk Award, having taught herself to fiddle sing.

“...the 6Music market surely beckons for Bella. As well as reaffirming her status as a shining star in the folk scene’s firmament, With The Dawn feels like a game-changer” - fRoots

Bella released her debut album Night Visiting in 2007. One of its songs, Three Black Feathers was nominated for a BBC Folk Award. It was her first original composition, and a sign of things to come. Since then, she has been a prolific solo artist - releasing her 6th album 'With The Dawn' in 2015, collaborating on different projects with Martin Simpson, John Smith, Blue Rose Code, and Cara Luft, and winning BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2012 (Best original song for Herring Girl) and 2014 (Folk singer of the year).

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Anna & Elizabeth

Anna & Elizabeth

Inspired by the richness and tradition of mountain music, Anna & Elizabeth gather songs and stories from archives and visits with elders. They bring these songs to life in performance with sparse, atmospheric arrangements using guitar, banjo, fiddle, and the uncanny blend of their voices in close harmony. Anna & Elizabeth accompany their songs with stories — of the lyrics, of the singer, of the quest to learn the song—and they illustrate them in mesmerizing fashion. The two revive the old scrolling picture show, dubbed “crankies”—intricate picture-scrolls illustrating the old songs they sing, which they create in tandem with papercuts, shadow puppets, prints, and embroidered fabric.

“If you've never thought your tastes would lean to mountain music, take a deep breath and soak it all in." - NPR Music

Anna & Elizabeth met in 2011, and their work has brought them to stages across the world, including the Atlanta Museum of Modern Art; folk festivals in Brooklyn, the Yukon, Chicago, Maine, and Uzbekistan; residencies at universities; summer traditional music schools; and small theaters and folk clubs across the U.S. and U.K. Their second album, which features Grammy nominee and legendary folk singer Alice Gerrard, was released March 2015 on Free Dirt Records. It has been featured on Vice’s Noisey, the Huffington Post, No Depression, and NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert series.

This winter, Anna & Elizabeth are beginning a new cycle of work, inspired by ballad singers of the 1930s and 1940s in Vermont and Virginia—the states where they grew up. Spending time in archives, with the families of these singers, and with a director, Anna & Elizabeth will explore connections between place and tradition to develop a new show, a new set of crankies, and a new album inspired by these ballads.

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Aidan O'Rourke

Aidan O'Rourke

Both a “dazzling fiddler” (Scotland on Sunday), and an “unfailingly strong and imaginative” composer (The List), Aidan O'Rourke stands at the centre of the modern Scottish folk music revival. Loved for his warm lyrical fiddle style and admired for his adventurous compositions, O'Rourke has emerged as one of Scotland's leading artists, defining a modern attitude to traditional music. In February 2014 he was named Musician of the Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Uniting all of O'Rourke's musical activity is his deep fascination with Scottish culture, landscape and territory. With an Irish ancestry, O'Rourke grew up in the highland port of Oban, his family settling later to the Island of Seil. His earliest years were coloured by the sound of Irish traditional music played in the home by his father, and he began formal training on the fiddle at the age of eight. Studying locally at first, he went on to absorb a range of different playing styles from various distinguished Highland teachers. Winning multiple prizes on the Scottish competition circuit, by the age of 14 he was touring the UK, Europe and North America.

O'Rourke is best known for his groundbreaking trio Lau, formed in 2005 with accordionist Martin Green and singer/guitarist Kris Drever. Releasing their debut album, Lightweights and Gentlemen, in 2007, Lau immediately captured the attention of a many thousands of music fans across a wide spectrum of genres, receiving a wide variety of media coverage. In the six years following, Lau have released two more highly acclaimed studio albums, two live albums and a series of collaborative EPs, with each new release gaining a wider audience for the band. Frequently garlanded with awards, Lau have been named as 'Best Group' in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards no fewer than four times since 2008, leading one journalist to stress that 'other groups were available!'

As a natural development of his life as a fiddler, O'Rourke has been writing tunes for many years. Embarking on more formal compositions, in 2011 he was named Composer of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards. Among a number of prestigious commissions have been pieces for Celtic Connections festival and the Sage Gateshead, as well as works for the Tolbooth in Stirling, Mull’s An Tobar arts centre, and acclaimed visual artists Dalziel and Scullion. He has recorded and released three solo albums, all widely hailed as records that stretch far beyond traditional melodies and tunes, into contemporary jazz, minimalism and the avant-garde.

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Gwyneth Herbert

Gwyneth Herbert

Gwyneth Herbert is an award-winning composer and lyricist, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and strikingly original performer. She has released 6 critically-acclaimed albums (including on Universal, Naim Edge and the first UK Blue Note release in 30 years), toured across the world and shared stages with Boy George, Amy Winehouse and John Cooper Clarke.

Drawing on influences from the worlds of folk, jazz, art pop, contemporary classical, avant-garde music and storytelling, she performs with a variety of instruments and a “casually commanding voice – whether softly nuanced as confiding speech or at full soaring-contralto stretch” (The Guardian).

She has also made numerous appearances on BBC Radio 2, 3 and 4; co-created three musicals and a feature-length art film; performed her own film score at the British Film Institute; and had her arrangement of a Swahili folk-song performed by 100,000 children at once.

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