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North-east balladeer strikes a chord with judges for HebCelt slot

Iona Fyfe, 20, from Aberdeenshire.
Iona Fyfe, 20, from Aberdeenshire.

A young balladeer from Aberdeenshire will take her next steps towards stardom after winning a place at this year’s Hebridean Celtic Festival on Lewis.

Iona Fyfe, 20, won her spot on the stage in Stornoway following her triumph at the Next Steps contest, becoming one of 21 acts to be chosen after impressing HebCelt judges.

Along with the opportunity to perform, the artist also won £500 expenses and a day recording at Black Bay studio, which opened last year on the island of Great Bernera, off Lewis.

Miss Fyfe 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.”

Her journey began after she moved from Huntly to Glasgow when she was 17 to study traditional music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Now in the third year of her studies, she recently gained a fellowship from London College of Music in traditional Scots voice.

Her material combines contemporary folk music with traditional Doric and Scottish songs and features on her debut album Away From My Window, which was premiered at a sold-out Celtic Connections performance this year.

She has had a number of high-profile appearances at events during her studies, including at The Royal Albert Hall, Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom, Aberdeen Music Hall and a sell-out Edinburgh Fringe show.

Miss Fyfe has also won 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.

She added: “It’s pretty difficult making time to record and tour while studying, but the Conservatoire is very supportive of all the students.

“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.”

Her HebCelt appearance will be included in a hectic touring schedule taking in the UK, Germany, France, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Canada.

During her performance on July 20 she will share the stage with Roddy Woomble, frontman of Scottish indie giants Idlewild, as well as Canadian acts Vishten and the Yves Lambert Trio and new Glasgow-based band Kinnaris Quintet.

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