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folk

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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Sam Lee

Sam Lee

How many traditional English folk singers do you know who come from North London, studied at Chelsea School of Art, worked as a forager and wilderness expert while moonlighting as a burlesque dancer – until a chance encounter led to the door of the great Scottish Traveller singer Stanley Robertson, and an extraordinary four-year apprenticeship into the arcane, living world of traditional song that few outside the Traveller and Gypsy communities have ever experienced?

Since bursting on to the folk scene at the end of the Noughties, Mercury Prize nominee Sam Lee has blazed a trail as an outstanding singer and song collector. He’s also been the driving force behind the eclectic, award-winning folk club The Nest Collective,  founder of the vital Song Collectors’ Collective, and the originator of Singing With Nightingales.

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Kerry Andrew

Kerry Andrew

Kerry Andrew is a London-based composer, performer, writer and educator. She has a PhD in Composition from the University of York and has won three British Composer Awards. As a composer, she specialises in experimental vocal and choral music, music-theatre and community music. Her debut novel will be published by Jonathan Cape in January 2018.

She was Handel House Composer In Residence 2010-12 and was Visiting Professor at Leeds College of Music 2015-16. Her works have included large-scale pieces for 600 young people in the Royal Albert Hall’s Schools Prom, a vocal/body percussion work for the massed National Youth Choirs at the Royal Albert Hall, a concept drawing and vocal EP for Art on the Underground, a chamber community opera for Wigmore Hall, a wild swimming opera for the Tete a Tete Festival, a work simultaneously performed by 25 community ensembles around the UK for the Landmark Trust, a piece for the London Sinfonietta to fight for the NHS (including the recorded voices of 60 members of the public) and a work for the national commemoration service one year on from commemorate the 7/7/05 London bombings.

She performs with the award-winning experimental post-a cappella trio juice vocal ensemble, who have released two albums on the Nonclassical label. She also performs as alt-folk soloist Metamorphic and is a multi-instrumentalist with DOLLYman. She has written for the Guardian, writes libretti and made her short story debut on BBC Radio 4 in 2014. Her debut novel Swansong will be published by Jonathan Cape in January 2018.

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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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