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Interview: Singer-songwriter Lucy Ward chats ahead of Cheltenham Folk Festival

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: February 08, 2014

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PRAY thanks. We are living in a golden era for folk music according to one young singer-songwriter.

Lucy Ward, one of the most exciting talents in the genre, believes that acts such as Mumford and Sons and Laura Marling have helped to change the image of folk music and shine a much more positive light.

“They’re shining a light on the British folk scene,” the Derby singer said.

“It’s about moving away from the X Factor dreariness.”

Recently nominated for best singer at this year’s BBC Folk Awards, Lucy will perform at Cheltenham Folk Festival next weekend as part of a Sunday Showcase event.

She’ll be joined by Brian Peters, Bella Hardy and James Findla as they perform songs from new compilation, Liberty To Choose, released in conjunction with The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs last year.

As a first timer at the festival, the singer is hopeful that the act will impress audiences with what she terms “traditional material combined with fresh and exciting arrangements”.

Lucy’s own love of folk music began whilst listening to the likes of Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan, staple records in her parents’ vinyl collection.

After what she says was an “organic progression” into playing music on a full-time basis over the course of her gap year, Lucy has become a highly regarded songwriter, winning the coveted Horizon Award for Best Newcomer in 2012.

Opening Concert – Friday

With Keith Kendrick & Sylvia Needham, O‘Hooley & Tidow, Blowzabella. 7.45pm.

Showcase – Saturday

With The Lindisfarne Gospel presented by The Alistair Anderson Band. 4.15pm.

Main Concert – Saturday

With Siobhan Miller & Aaron Jones, Chris Wood and Blazin’ Fiddles. 8pm.

Afternoon Concert – Sunday

Kirsty Cotter and Barry Watson among the performers at The Playhouse. 1.30pm.

Final Concert – Sunday

The Young‘un, James Delarre & Saul Rose among others. 7.15pm.

Lucy’s inspiration resides in things closest to her. “Conversations, history and what’s right in front of me,” she says of the foundation to her lyrics.

The singer-songwriter has been working hard over the past few years, releasing a soundtrack to the BBC Four documentary Folie a Deux.

Despite being asked to write and record the works in just two weeks, Lucy’s determination enabled her to create a fitting score.

“It’s just not something you say no too,” she said.

Bella Hardy, who also performs as one quarter of headline act, Carthy, Hardy, Farrell and Young, the same evening, said: “It’s a really great festival, the first of its kind this year.

“Folk is inclusive music and it’s lovely to see so many people enjoying themselves and having fun.”

n Lucy and Bella both perform at Cheltenham Town Hall at 4pm on Sunday as part of the Sunday Showcase. Tickets cost £12.50.

n Day tickets for the festival cost from £40 for adults and £20 for children with weekend tickets at £80 for adults and £40 for children. Call 08445 762210.

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