Four of the region’s musicians, who will all be performing at next year’s Festival, are up for a total of six gongs at Scotland’s most prestigious awards ceremony on the traditional music calendar.
And the public has until 28 November to vote for them.
Scottish traditional singers Emily Smith and Robyn Stapleton; songwriter Ali Burns; and folk musician Gavin Marwick, have been nominated for awards in this year’s MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards.
The awards, now in their 12th year, honour Scotland’s best traditional musicians across 16 categories. The public have until Friday, November 28, to cast their vote for who they want to see win in each category.
Originally from Thornhilll, multi award-winning Emily Smith received two nominations – Scots Singer of the Year and Album of the Year for her new album Echoes, released earlier this year. The album has received rave reviews from national and international press and music magazines and has been hailed a “remarkable and stunning addition” to her growing repertoire and “the freshest sounding folk album in an age.”
For the album, Emily returned to her first love of traditional song. Her gift for finding a personal connection in these passed-down, anon-penned words is still at the heart of her craft. This is a bold new phase in Emily’s music: unshakeably Scottish but with farther, wider horizons. The album features a guest list of true greats including Jerry Douglas, Aoife O’Donovan, Kris Drever and Rory Butler, as well as her regular touring companions Jamie McClennan and Matheu Watson.
The nomination rounds off an excellent year of touring and success for Emily.
She said: “I’ve had a brilliant year. Having taken most of last year off on maternity leave it’s been fantastic to come back to work and tour with the band all over the UK promoting Echoes.
“I’m so proud that Echoes has been nominated as I feel it’s been my best album to date and to be nominated for Scots Singer of the Year is the icing on the cake.”
Fiddle player and tune writer Gavin Marwick is in the running for Composer of the Year for his work on his double album The Long Road and Five Horizons as well as for Live Act for his band Journeyman Spectacular.
The Auchencairn-based fiddle player and life-long professional musician is no stranger to the Scottish traditional music scene, having played regularly and with high acclaim with the likes of Iron Horse, Cantrip, Up In The Air and Bellevue Rendezvous. His music is influenced by his trad roots and contains a fusion of culture from a number of countries which he visited during his tours.
Gavin said he is an ambassador for Scottish music as well as “an enthusiastic writer of tunes” and admits to having penned thousands of them since 1988. A grant from Creative Scotland helped turn his dreams of an album into reality and The Long Road and Five Horizons was released in January alongside an accompanying songbook titled Horizons.
He said: “It’s wonderful and heartwarming to receive such high recognition by both the public and the music industry. This is the realisation of a dream for me.”
Also nominated for Scottish Traditional Singer of the Year is Stranraer songstress Robyn Stapleton, who is also this year’s BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician.
With a wide repertoire of traditional and folk songs, this has been a successful year for Robyn. She has sung alongside internationally-acclaimed Celtic music band The Outside Track at this year’s Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at Proms in the Park. She has taught in workshops at Gourock’s new festival Folk for Folk; performed at the Commonwealth Live in Glasgow Green and BBC’s Commonwealth Concert Series at the Quay. To top off her 2014 successes, she has been shortlisted for the Dumfries and Galloway Performing Artist of the Year Award at this year’s Dumfries & Galloway Life People of the Year Awards to be held at the Easterbrook Hall on Friday, November 28.
Robyn said: “I’m so excited about being nominated for Scots Singer of the Year at this Year’s Trad Music Awards.
“It’s such an honour to be considered for the award, especially alongside such experienced and successful singers. Looking forward to the awards ceremony on the December 13, where I’ll also be performing.
“I was also delighted to find out that I have also been nominated for Dumfries and Galloway’s Performing Artist of the Year Award. The D&G awards are an important celebration of all the great work that goes on in the region, and it means a great deal to be included in this year’s nominations.”
Celebrated Kirkcudbright songwriter Alison Burns says: “My work is all about people singing together in harmony.”
And it is this ethos that has won her a nomination for Best Community Project at the MG Alba Awards for her Big Song Relay project which saw hundreds of school children, from Shetland to Dumfries and Galloway, singing along the path of the Queen’s Baton Relay which heralded the start of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Ali explained: “This was a project where community choirs from all over Scotland came out to greet the Commonwealth Baton runners with a specially written song: Here’s to All Our Common Wealth, which I co-wrote with Findlay Napier and Phil Cunningham.
“Forty one choirs from this region alone were involved. People really got on board. It was remarkable.”
Ali leads Hands Up for Trad’s Scotland Sings project supporting choir leaders and singing communities around Scotland.
Her first love is songwriting for choirs. She has worked extensively as a singing workshop leader and has largely built her reputation by teaching her own material.
You can hear her songs in diverse settings such as public art installations; theatre; mainstream and special needs education and in the repertoire and recordings of many community choirs around Britain and increasingly, the USA.
She said: “I’m so chuffed that the Big Song Relay project I worked on earlier this year has been nominated for a Scots Trad Music award in the Community Project of the year. It’s a fantastic tribute to the great effort the singers put in to the project to make it so successful.”
The MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards take place at Inverness Leisure on Saturday, December 13. Winners from each category will be the artist who receives an equal combination of the most industry and fan votes.
To vote, visit www.scotstradmusicawards.com/voting
All four musicians will be performing in concerts during next year’s Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival which takes place between May 22 and 31.