The Hebridean Celtic Festival is helping one of Scotland’s finest young ballad singers to take the Next Steps to stardom.
Iona Fyfe, 20, from Aberdeenshire, who combines contemporary folk music with traditional Doric and Scots songs, has a number of high-profile appearances under her belt, including performances at The Royal Albert Hall, Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom, Aberdeen Music Hall and a sell-out Edinburgh Festival Fringe show.
She has now won a coveted slot on HebCelt’s Islands Stage after winning the festival’s An Ath Cheum (Next Steps) contest, aimed at finding the best young artists or band, aged between 18 and 25, during the Year of Young People.
Iona, who moved from Huntly to Glasgow when she was 17 to study traditional music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, was chosen from 21 acts who submitted information and performance video and recordings to the HebCelt judges.
She will share the Islands Stage bill on Friday, 20 July with Roddy Woomble, frontman of Scottish Indie giants, Idlewild, as well as Canadian acts Vishtèn and the Yves Lambert Trio and new Glasgow-based band Kinnaris Quintet.
She also wins £500 expenses and a day recording at Black Bay Studio, which opened last year on Great Bernera and has already produced records for acts from around the world as well as local musicians including Willie Campbell, Jane Hepburn, Josie Duncan and Colin Macleod.
Iona said: “It’s lovely to win. I’ve heard so many good things about HebCelt and I’m excited to bring my music and band over to a new audience.”
HebCelt director Caroline Maclennan said: “We had a fabulous set of entries from across Scotland and beyond and we were blown away by the extremely high standard of the artists.
“However, Iona stood out amid these high-quality submissions and we are excited to have her join the festival line-up this year.”
Iona has won a number of ballad and bothy ballad competitions and was a Scots Singer of the Year nominee at last year’s MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards as well as a finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year.
Her debut album, ‘Away From My Window’, was premiered at a sold-out Celtic Connections performance this year.
She is currently in her third year studying traditional music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and recently gained a Fellowship from London College of Music in Traditional Scots Voice.
Her HebCelt appearance will be included in a hectic touring schedule in the UK, Germany, France, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Holland and Canada.
She is also touring with the TMSA (Traditional Music & Song Association of Scotland) Young Trad Tour and will start working on a debut duo EP with fellow Royal Conservatoire of Scotland student, Cameron Nixon, from Aberdeen.
“It’s pretty difficult making time to record and tour whilst studying, but the Conservatoire is very supportive of all the students”, she said.
“We’ve been exceptionally lucky to be booked at festivals, such as Lorient Interceltic Festival in Brittany and Folk am Neckar in Germany, as well as a busy touring schedule in other countries.
“The Doric and Scots ballads travel well and, through introductions and delivery, can be accessible to all types of audiences.
“We haven’t played many gigs in the west of Scotland, so I’m really looking forward to bringing music from the new album over to Lewis.”
The 2018 HebCelt is being held from 18-21 July in Stornoway and will be headlined by Deacon Blue, The Fratellis, Eddi Reader, Skippinish and Roddy Woomble.
Day tickets for HebCelt are available exclusively from the festival website. See www.hebceltfest.com