FolkWales Online Magazine

BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2015

9bach triumph, Merêd honoured in Radio 2 Folk Awards

Bethesda-based band 9bach have triumphed with their four-star album Tincian, carrying off the Album Of The Year prize at the 2015 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, which was held in the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay.

They were the first Welsh band to win an award in the competition’s 15-year history, and they capped their night with a performance at the ceremony in the Donald Gordon Theatre. Welsh-speaking actress and singer Lisa Jen Brown, who set up the band with her husband, guitarist Martin Hoyland, thanked everyone connected in 9bach’s circle: “Especially everyone at Real World – they really are a most amazing record company.”

9bach held the vast stage with a stunning version of ‘Ffarwêl’, taken from a North Wales historian and poet’s collection of villagers’ writings from down the ages, magnificently filled out by the 50-strong Penrhyn Male Voice Choir; this poem tells of a quarryman’s last day at the slate workings.

There was also a Good Tradition Award for folk historian, former head of the BBC’s light entertainment department and well-loved icon Dr Meredydd Evans, known to all as Merêd, who died aged 95 in February. Editor Mick Tems has written an obituary on Merêd, which can be seen in this issue of FolkWales Online Magazine.

Merêd’s widow, Phyllis Kinney, could not be there for this prestigious occasion – however, his daughter Eluned accepted the posthumous award, and called for Wales to create a digital archive of folk music, arranged by the National Library of Wales, St Fagans Museum  and Welsh politicians. She said that setting up the archive by July 2017 was “perfectly achievable”, and added: “I’m not my father’s daughter for nothing.”

There was also a tribute by Cerys Matthews; she outlined Merêd’s achievements, including his rich collection of folk songs, his inspiration in producing the BBC Wales Welsh folk progammes, including the series Hob Y Deri Dando, and his passionate lifelong campaign to preserve and promote yr iaith Cymraeg, the Welsh language. She revealed: “I’ve got to let you in on a little secret – before his death, he had been told about the award, and he was over the moon about it.”

The awards ceremony saw a host of folk music stars come together for an evening of recognition and performances. Catrin Finch, who has released the new Tides album, praised the innovation in traditional music, and 10 Mewn Bws – ten Welsh musicians selected by Welsh traditions organisation trac and their projects officer, Angharad Jenkins – created an old recording of Merêd singing ‘Bachgen Ifanc Ydwyf’, with singer Gwilym Bowen Rhys (of rock/pop band Y Bandana and alt-folk brother/sisters trio Plu) taking the lead in a new traditional arrangement.

The 16th annual ceremony was presented by Radio 2 Folk Show host, Mark Radcliffe, and Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis. A Lifetime Achievement Award went to folk music legend Cat Stevens, also known as Yusuf Islam. Singer David Gray presented him with his award, and he performed his new song, ‘Cat and The Dog Trap’, and his 1970 classic, ‘Moonshadow’.

Songwriter Loudon Wainwright III, who performed ‘I Knew Your Mother’ and ‘Double Lifetime’,  was also presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by BBC 6 Music presenter Tom Robinson. There were a host of celebrities and musicians handing out the awards, including Gavin And Stacey star and scriptwriter Ruth Jones. Ruth presented Nancy Kerr with the Folk Singer Of The Year award, and singer-songwriter Billy Bragg presented Peggy Seeger and Calum MacColl with the Best Original Song award.

The evening also saw the late singer Ewan MacColl inducted into the Radio 2 Folk Awards Hall of Fame. After the presentation ceremony, Cerys Matthews said that this year Wales had turned the corner when it came to recognition: “I sincerely hope that this isn’t going to be a one-off.”

BBC Radio 2 controller Bob Shennan said: “The Radio 2 Folk Awards is an annual celebration of the nation’s longstanding devotion to the folk music scene. It is wonderful to be able to bring together such a high calibre line-up of artists and recognise their achievements over the past 12 months.”

Full list of winners and nominees:

BEST ALBUM: Tincian – 9Bach (runners-up: Fair Warning (The Rails), Nothing Can Bring Back The Hour (Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker), Sweet Visitor (Nancy Kerr), The Moral Of The Elephant (Martin and Eliza Carthy)
BEST GROUP: The Young’uns (Runners-up: Bellowhead, The Furrow Collective, The Gloaming)
FOLK SINGER OF THE YEAR: Nancy Kerr (Runners-up: Cara Dillon, Julie Fowlis, Jez Lowe)
BEST DUO: Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker (Runners-up: O’Hooley and Tidow, Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar, Chris While and Julie Matthews)
BEST TRADITIONAL TRACK – Samhradh Samhradh – The Gloaming (Runners-up: Bedlam – Stick In The Wheel; Handsome Molly – The Furrow Collective; Manus Mo Rùin – Cruinn).
HORIZON AWARD – The Rails (Runners-up: Ange Hardy, Maz O’Connor, Stick In The Wheel)
BEST ORIGINAL SONG – Swim To The Star – Peggy Seeger/ Calum MacColl (Runners-up:  The Necklace Of Wrens – The Gloaming; The Pitmen Poets – Jez Lowe; The Spider And The Wolf – Naomi Bedford)
BBC RADIO 2 YOUNG FOLK AWARD – Talisk (Runners-up: Cup O’Joe; Roseanne Reid; Wildwood Kin)
MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR WINNER – Sam Sweeney (Runners-up: Martin Green; Will Pound; Kathryn Tickell)
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT – Cat Stevens / Loudon Wainwright III
HALL OF FAME – Ewan MacColl

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