A TALENTED young musician from the North East is to showcase her skills at a prestigious Scottish music festival alongside legend Van Morrison.
Accordionist Gemma Telfer, 18, will perform at the award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis with her Glasgow-based folk band Gria.
The female quartet secured the coveted main stage spot at the four-day festival by winning a talent competition to find the traditional music stars of tomorrow.
They were voted the best of 17 entries for HebCelt’s One Step Further contest, which was open to young bands and performers playing music which reflects the theme of the festival.
Gria will perform on the Saturday of the festival, which runs from July 17 to 20, and will be headlined by Van Morrison, Dougie MacLean, Capercaillie, The Battlefield Band and the Red Hot Chilli Pipers. The girls – Gemma, singer Ceitlin Smith from Lewis, fiddler Louise Bichan from Orkney and pianist Lana Elaine from Shetland – play a mix of traditional and contemporary music.
The festival, which is celebrating its 18th anniversary this year, attracted an international audience of more than 14,000 last year, and ticket sales for July are well ahead of target.
Gemma, who comes from Rothley Crags near Scots Gap in Northumberland, started playing the accordion at 10, when she discovered a passion for Scottish and Irish traditional music. She has already played in many bands across the UK and spent two weeks on tour in the US.
She has won numerous competitions and, in 2010, won the Christopher Meade Scholarship from the Tyneside Irish Centre for Youth Achievement, enabling her to study at The Meitheal Summer School in Ireland. Since moving to study in Glasgow she has played at the Celtic Connections Festival twice.
She said: “I was absolutely delighted to hear we had won the One Step Further competition, and July 20 can’t come quick enough. It’s my first time visiting HebCelt and the Isle of Lewis, and I can’t wait.
“It’s my birthday the weekend of the festival, so I couldn’t ask for a better present, getting to perform with Gria at such a fabulous event.”
Gria, who take their name from Grian, the Gaelic word for sun, got together at the end of last year.