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Success at Radio 2 Folk Awards for North East stars

Musicians who trained on Newcastle University's folk music course have been honoured at annual awards

Louis DeCarlo Bella Hardy, who won Singer of the Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards on Wednesday night
Bella Hardy, who won Singer of the Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards on Wednesday night

There was success for the North East at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards on Wednesday night.

The event at London’s Royal Albert Hall clashed with the brasher Brit Awards at the city’s 02 Arena, but the winners’ smiles were just as broad.

Once again there is much to cheer for those who run Newcastle University’s highly-regarded folk and traditional music degree course.

The Singer of the Year award went to Bella Hardy, who graduated with a Master of Music degree in 2007.

The Derbyshire-born singer and songwriter emerged from her studies in Newcastle with the songs that would form her acclaimed first album, Night Visiting.

She has a new studio album, Battleplan, coming out in the spring.

In 2012, Hardy won the Best Original Song category for The Herring Girl, from third album Songs Lost & Stolen.

She performed in Newcastle at The Cluny last week with Ross Wilson and, the previous week, at Sage Gateshead with Eliza Carthy, Lucy Farrell and Kate Young.

Meanwhile, there was a double reason for Fay Hield to celebrate.

Fay, who was part of the initial intake of students on the Newcastle University course in 2001, is a folk singer who also teaches at Sheffield University (she’s Dr Fay Hield). But she is also behind The Full English, which won the awards for Best Group and Best Album on Wednesday night.

The Full English came out of a project sponsored by the English Folk Dance and Song Society to create an accessible online database of the early 20th Century folk song collections of Harry Albino, Percy Grainger, Ralph Vaughan Williams and others.

Fay was also commissioned to create new music from the archive, resulting in the album also called The Full English. The album award was decided by BBC Radio 2 listeners and The Full English performed at the ceremony.

Dr Hield said: “I’m thrilled that The Full English won two BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. It’s a wonderful project to be involved with.

“I hope that audiences will now be inspired to explore The Full English digital archive, as we have, to see what an endlessly fascinating, amazing resource it is.”

Also nominated for Musician of the Year was another graduate of the Newcastle course, Will Pound, who according to one review of his latest album has now cemented his status as one of the world’s top harmonica players. Catriona Macdonald, acting head of performance in Newcastle University’s music department, said: “We’re absolutely delighted with their success.

“This is a continuation of what’s happened since the very beginning of this course, which is unique in England. Our graduates have a real impact on the folk music scene.”

Also nominated for awards were Sam Sweeney, a former member of youth folk ensemble Folkestra, based at Sage Gateshead; The Melrose Quartet, featuring Nancy Kerr, who grew up in the North East; and the group LAU – five times nominated for Best Group – which is curating a festival of its folk music influences, Lau-Land, at Sage Gateshead from May 29-31.

David Whetstone

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