Press Office


Folk to be reckoned with


The talents of Newcastle University’s Folk and Traditional Music graduates figured prominently at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Nancy Kerr, who is a guest tutor on the Folk and Traditional Music Degree, was crowned Folk Singer Of The Year, much to the delight of her Mum, Sandra Kerr who also teaches on the course.

Harmonica-playing Will Pound was shortlisted in the Musician of the Year category. Will is internationally renowned for his playing style, which is considered ‘unique’ by other harmonicists and ranges from bluegrass, folk, jazz and Arabic to blues, rock, pop and funk.

Will said studying on the Folk and Traditional Music Degree course was a ‘fantastic experience and a great grounding for my professional career’.

Shortlisted in the Best Group category were Bellowhead which includes graduate Rachael McShane, the band’s cellist, singer and fiddle player and her band mate, Paul Sartin, who plays instruments including the fiddle, oboe and slide whistle and studied for a Masters degree in music at Newcastle.

Also nominated in this section were The Furrow Collective, which boasts three Folk and Traditional Music graduates alongside Alasdair Roberts, approaches traditional ballads with a bold, improvisatory twist. With the backing of harp, guitar, viola, concertina, banjo, musical saw and rousing harmonies, storytelling takes centre stage.

A versatile musician on fiddle, viola, and musical saw as well as having a beguiling and crystal clear singing style makes Lucy Farrell in constant demand as a session player; Rachel Newton, a singer, harpist and fiddle player with The Shee and The Emily Portman Trio, is also a highly sought-after musician, known for her prowess on the acoustic and the electric harp and her singing in both Gaelic and English.

The last of the group’s graduates is Emily Portman - a singer, writer and concertina player who is the 2013 holder of the BBC Radio Two Folk Award for Best Original Song.

Now in their 16th year, the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards took place on 22 April 2015 at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff.

Some of the biggest names in folk music came together under one roof to celebrate the UK's thriving folk music scene, including Yusuf / Cat Stevens as the headline act.

published on: 23 April 2015