This year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, held at Belfast Waterfront on 4 April, will see singer-songwriter Nick Drake inducted into the Folk Awards Hall of Fame.
Folk musician and producer Dónal Lunny will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award and the Armagh Pipers Club will be presented with the Good Tradition Award.
One of folk music’s annual highlights, the event presented by Mark Radcliffe and Julie Fowlis sees some of the biggest names celebrate the thriving folk scene of the UK and beyond. Dónal Lunny and the Armagh Pipers Club will join previously announced Cara Dillon, Paul Brady, Lankum and Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band to perform on stage at the prestigious event in Belfast.
Mike Edgar, Head of Entertainment and Events, BBC Northern Ireland, says: “We are so thrilled that the Radio 2 Folk Awards have chosen to come to Belfast. This part of the world boasts some of the finest musicians and singers on the planet, a fact that is being truly reflected in the line-up for this year’s event. So much talent in one room on one night – it’s sure to be a stunning evening and we look forward to sharing it with everyone on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio Ulster and also BBC Four and BBC Northern Ireland.”
The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Hall of Fame exists to celebrate significant people who have made a lasting impression on folk music, and have since passed away. In 2018, the year in which he would have turned 70, the inductee will be the singer and songwriter Nick Drake.
Drake’s music didn’t garner commercial success during his lifetime, but decades after his early death at the age of 26, his music would find a wide and reverent audience. Drake left relatively little music behind; only three full studio albums were recorded: Five Leaves Left (1969), Bryter Layter (1970) and Pink Moon (1972). Featuring sublime and original guitar work, intimate vocals and distinctive pastoral strings, those records became classics. Produced by Joe Boyd and John Wood, the music was heavy with meaning and mood and, ultimately, highly influential on singer-songwriters of all kinds.
Actor Gabrielle Drake, Nick’s elder sister, will be present at the Radio 2 Folk Awards and the evening will see a special performance of one of Nick Drake’s songs. Gabrielle is an actor of stage and screen and became well known in the 1970’s for her role in television series The Brothers and UFO, and later in Crossroads and Coronation Street.
On Nick being inducted into the Folk Awards Hall of Fame, Gabrielle says:
“I think Nick would have been quietly amazed, amused but above all, honoured. And, indeed, grateful. As I am on his behalf.”
During the evening, musician and producer Dónal Lunny will receive a prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to folk music. He is widely regarded as being central to the renaissance of Irish music over the last three decades.
Born in Tullamore in the midlands of Ireland, Dónal grew up in Newbridge, Co. Kildare. He was founding member of several of Ireland’s important bands including Planxty, The Bothy Band, Moving Hearts, Coolfin, and more recently, Mozaik, plus he has produced some of the most significant albums of the traditional music revival since the ’70s. An adept musician and player of the bouzouki, guitar and bodhrán, Dónal has also produced tracks for, and performed on albums with international stars such as Kate Bush, Elvis Costello, Mark Knopfler, Clannad, and Baaba Maal. He has written music for many films and theatre productions, and at present, performs with Andy Irvine, DoZoMo, Paddy Glackin, Atlantic Arc Orchestra, and Usher’s Island, and continues with composition, production and teaching.
The evening will also see the Armagh Pipers Club presented with the Good Tradition Award, to recognise their contribution to the preservation, dissemination and progression of traditional music over a number of years.
Founded in 1966 to promote and teach Irish traditional music, the Armagh Pipers Club is an educational charity. Although its original focus was the revival of Ireland’s elbow-driven uilleann bagpipes (pronounced ‘ill-un’), the club rapidly expanded into teaching many other traditional instruments. The club currently provides classes to over 200 students, children and adults, drawn from Armagh and seven neighbouring counties. Many Pipers Club students have gone on to successful professional careers in traditional music, and the contribution of the organisation to the folk scene in Ireland has been immense.
The club’s director, Brian Vallely, who with his wife Eithne founded the organisation, says:
“The Good Tradition Award has had many worthy recipients, ranging from Celtic Connections to Meredydd Evans, John McCusker, Steeleye Span, the Cambridge Folk Festival, the Transatlantic Sessions series and many others – so we are in exalted company. Over five decades, the hundreds of tutors and students who have been associated with the club have made a significant contribution to the survival and development of the traditional music of Ireland, as has the club’s ground-breaking series of tutor books since their first publication in 1972. The recognition of our work through this prestigious award will help the club to maintain its high profile nationally and indeed internationally.”
In addition to the Lifetime Achievement and Good Tradition awards, prizes will be awarded in the following categories on the night: Folk Singer of the Year, Best Duo, Best Group, Best Album, Horizon Award, Musician of the Year, Best Original Track, Best Traditional Track and the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award.
The Radio 2 Folk Awards 2018 will welcome an array of guest presenters to present winners with their awards, including Finbar Furey, who is a multi-instrumental folk musician, best known for his band of brothers, The Fureys. Past guest presenters have included Sir David Attenborough, Sharleen Spiteri, Sir Ray Davies, Pauline Black, Hardeep Singh Kohli, Martin Freeman, Sandie Shaw and Sean Bean.
Tickets for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in Belfast are available from bbc.co.uk/radio2, and the event will be simulcast live from 7.30-9pm on BBC Radio 2 and Radio Ulster. After the show, selected highlights will be available to watch at bbc.co.uk/radio2, and a highlights programme will be broadcast on both BBC Four and BBC Northern Ireland the weekend after the event, and available on BBC iPlayer following that.
The Radio 2 Folk Awards are a 7digital Creative production for Radio 2 and produced by Kellie While and Jon Lewis.