BBC Radio 2 has announced the recipients of this year’s Radio 2 Folk Awards Lifetime Achievement Awards. The two prestigious lifetime achievement accolades will be presented to legendary musicians Yusuf / Cat Stevens and Loudon Wainwright III at the ceremony which is being held at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff on 22 April.
The Good Tradition Award, for a
n outstanding contribution to the upkeep of a musical tradition, is being presented posthumously to the late Meredydd Evans.
Renowned singer Yusuf / Cat Stevens, who will also be performing at the awards, gained worldwide acclaim for works including Wild World, Father and Son and Morning Has Broken, which remain staples of the folk genre. Following a conversion to the Islamic faith in 1977, Stevens retired from the music business to work with and support causes in education and humanitarian relief. Yusuf / Cat Stevens was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2014, subsequently releasing the album Tell ‘Em I’m Gone. Last year also saw Yusuf / Cat Stevens embark upon his acclaimed Peace Train – Late Again international tour, including his first US dates in 38 years.
Al Booth, Editor of Specialist Music for Radio 2 said: “To have a musical legend of the calibre of Yusuf performing at the Radio 2 Folk Awards is a testament to the high esteem in which the event is held. I know that everyone in the folk world is looking forward to what promises to be a very special night.”
Grammy Award-winning Loudon Wainwright III will also be celebrating his Lifetime Achievement Award with a live performance at the event. He said: “I’ll be happy and gratified, not to mention a bit smug, to receive my award in Cardiff next month. Yes it certainly has seemed like an entire lifetime has whizzed by since the mighty John Peel saturated the UK airwaves in 1969 with my first songs, spinning School Days and The Movies Are a Mother to Me late at night on BBC Radio.”
Loudon Wainwright III had studied acting at Carnegie-Mellon University, but dropped out to partake in the ‘Summer of Love’ in San Francisco, and wrote his first song, Edgar, in 1968. He was soon signed to Atlantic Records and was lured by Clive Davis to Columbia Records, which released his first big hit Dead Skunk. His songs have since been recorded by Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Cash, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, and his son Rufus Wainwright and daughter Martha Wainwright. An accomplished actor, he has appeared in films directed by Martin Scorsese and Tim Burton, on TV in M.A.S.H. and Undeclared, and on Broadway in Pump Boys and Dinettes.
The 2015 Radio 2 Folk Awards will also pay tribute to the late Dr Meredydd Evans – who passed away in February 2015 at the age of 95 – with a Good Tradition Award. The Good Tradition Award is given to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to UK folk music. Meredydd’s wide-ranging contributions as a singer, historian, broadcaster and Welsh-language campaigner made him a significant, respected and popular figure across Welsh culture. He recorded for the Sain label in Wales and made a classic album of Welsh songs for the American label Smithsonian Folkways during the 1950s. He was Head of Light Entertainment at BBC Wales, working both behind and in front of the camera, and an important collector of Welsh traditional song. He will be posthumously honoured and there will be a special tribute performance to him by the 10 Mewn Bws, (10 in a Bus) a project that saw 10 young Welsh musicians travel around Wales in an attempt to reinterpret and demystify traditional Welsh music.
The Folk Awards are hosted by Radio 2 Folk Show presenter Mark Radcliffe alongside Scottish Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis. Folk Singer Of The Year-nominated Julie will also perform on the night. Other performers are modern folk rock band The Rails, who are nominated in the Best Album and Horizon Award category for the best emerging act, and London-based duo Josienne Clark and Ben Walker, singing from their nominated Best Album, Nothing Can Bring Back the Hour. The pair has also been nominated in the Best Duo category. Welsh folk band 9Bach, who will sing in Welsh, and English folk singer Kate Rusby complete the live line-up for the night. Star guests who will be handing out some of the gongs on the night include 6 Music’s Cerys Matthews, Gavin And Stacey and Stella actress Ruth Jones, and singer-songwriter Billy Bragg.
The evening will also see singer, songwriter, record producer, playwright, actor and political activist Ewan MacColl inducted into the Radio 2 Folk Award Hall of Fame. MacColl played a vital role in instigating the folk song revival in Britain and is perhaps best known for his much-covered songs Dirty Old Town and The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. Throughout his career, MacColl produced around 300 songs and scores of albums, and 2015 marks the centenary of his birth.
The Radio 2 Folk show has a weekly audience of 812,000 listeners and BBC Radio 2 has weekly reach of 15.3 million. The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards will be broadcast live from 7.30pm-10pm on Radio 2 and will also be simulcast on BBC Radio Wales. From 10pm to 11pm, BBC Radio Wales will be broadcasting the official after-show programme presented by Frank Hennessy.
Listeners will be able to watch highlights of the awards on BBC iPlayer for 30 days after the event and also at a later date on Red Button.