Elephant Sessions at HEBCELT. Photograph by Fiona Rennie

Future music stars are being given the dream opportunity to play at the multi award-winning Hebridean Celtic Festival and record at a state-of-the-art studio.

A new competition launched today (Thursday 29th March) in partnership with Black Bay Studio, offers the exciting prospect for up-and-coming artists to advance their careers.

To mark the Year of Young People 2018, An Ath Cheum (Next Steps) will seek out the best young artist or band aged between 18 and 25 at the time of HebCelt, which is being held from 18-21 July in Stornoway and will be headlined by Deacon Blue, The Fratellis, Eddi Reader, Skippinish and Roddy Woomble.

The winner will secure a slot on the festival’s Islands Stage, a day recording at the studio with accommodation, plus £500 of expenses and passes to enjoy the rest of HebCelt.

Caroline Maclennan, director of HebCelt, which was crowned Best Cultural Event or Festival at the Scottish Thistle Awards this month, said: “The festival has always been passionate about promoting and supporting emerging young talent. In the Year of Young People, we feel it’s important to develop this support and help them take the next steps in their career.

“Providing a stage slot alongside some international artists, and the chance to record in Black Bay Studio in a wonderful setting, is a fantastic incentive for musicians.”

The winner will share the Islands Stage 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 all-female band Kinnaris Quintet.

Black Bay Studio, which opened last year on the island of Great Bernera, has already produced records for acts from around the world as well as local musicians including Willie Campbell, Jane Hepburn, Josie Duncan and C Macleod.

Peter Fletcher, the studio owner, said: “New talent is so important in music, and artists often produce some of the best work of their careers right at the start, so it must be captured. Equally, it's a very tough industry to get started in - there are lots of expenses and not a whole lot in return from the outset.

“So for us at Black Bay, Next Steps is a great opportunity to hear a lot of new music from some great new acts and to produce a record with the winner that could really help them progress in the industry.

“It gives us a chance to work with a talented new act who might not otherwise be able to access the studio, and that's tremendously exciting.”

The competition is open to any young band or performer, aged 18-25, playing a genre of music that reflects the general programming of the festival.

Entrants must submit a promotional pack in electronic format that includes -

  • At least one high resolution photo and a biography
  • Links to three, good quality recordings of their music
  • Video of ‘live’ performance (optional)

Submissions should be entered by the deadline of midnight on Saturday 14 April. See www.hebceltfest.com/competition

The winner will be informed by 27 April.

Day tickets for HebCelt are available exclusively from the festival website. See www.hebceltfest.com