The 2019 Wales Folk Awards

The Awards

On the 11th of April 2019, Wales celebrated the recent success of its folk scene with its own brand-new Folk Awards.

The awards celebrated the many talented performers from the Welsh folk and traditional music scene which has been mushrooming at home in Wales as well as making a splash recently at festivals across the UK and abroad. 2018 was the year of Wales as International Partner at the English Folk Expo showcase festival in Manchester. Wales was also Featured Nation at the huge Lorient Interceltic Festival in Brittany which welcomes 70,000 visitors each year. Top Welsh folk band Alaw played the Royal Albert Hall in August 2018 as part of the BBC Folk Prom .

The Wales Folk Awards have been created by a partnership of Trac Cymru, BBC Radio Wales and Radio Cymru, the Arts Council of Wales, and other significant figures from the world of Welsh folk such as Huw Williams and Stephen Rees. The awards were presented at an evening celebration at the BBC Hoddinott Hall at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay, with a reception generously sponsored by the British Council Wales. The Awards Evening was broadcast later on Frank Hennessy’s Celtic Heartbeat show on BBC Radio Wales and on Lisa Gwilym’s show Sioe Lisa Gwilym on BBC Radio Cymru. There were live performances throughout the evening from The Trials of Cato, Gwilym Bowen Rhys, VRï, and Calan. 

The winners were chosen from a long-list created by a Nominating Panel representing folk club and festival organisers, young musicians, tradition bearers, music journalists and broadcasters, promoters, folk activists and enthusiasts.

Two Carmarthen craftsmen made the trophies – blacksmith Aaron Petersen and woodturner Rob Hopkins. Based on 18th century rushlight holders, each one is unique, and uses locally sourced wood. The trophies have quite a folk family connection – Aaron’s father is blacksmith David Petersen who led the Welsh Delegation at Lorient Interceltic Festival for many years, and his nephew Sam is a member of Avanc, Trac Cymru’s Youth Folk Ensemble of Wales.

The Wales Folk Awards were intended to be a biennial event; in the wake of Covid we are hoping to hold the next Awards in Spring 2023.

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The Winners, 2019

Here are the winners and the shortlisted nominees:

Best Group

Jamie Smith’s Mabon

Best Emerging Artist/Band

NoGood Boyo
Trials of Cato- WINNER

Best Original Welsh-language Song

Bendigeidfran- Lleuwen – WINNER
Cân y Cŵn- Gwyneth Glyn
Swn ar Gardyn Post- Bob Delyn a’r Ebillion
Y Gwyfyn- The Gentle Good

Best Instrumental Track

Cyw Bach – VRï
Dawns Soïg/ Dawns y Gŵr Marw- Alaw – WINNER
Diddanwch Gruffydd ap Cynan – Delyth & Angharad
Mayfair at Rhayader 1927- Toby Hay

Best Solo Artist

Gwilym Bowen Rhys – WINNER
Gwyneth Glyn
The Gentle Good

Best album

Dal i ‘Redig Dipyn Bach – Bob Delyn a’r Ebillion
Llinyn Arian – Delyth & Angharad
Solomon – Calan
Tŷ ein Tadau – VRï – WINNER

Best traditional Welsh song

Ffoles Llantrisant – VRï – WINNER
Lliw Gwyn – Pendevig
Santiana – Alaw gyda Gwilym Bowen Rhys
Y Mab Penfelyn – Bob Delyn a’r Ebillion

Best original English-language song

Fall and Drop – Tagaradr
Far Ago – Gwyneth Glyn
Here Come The Young – Martyn Joseph – WINNER
These Are The Things – The Trials of Cato

Best live act

Jamie Smith’s Mabon
Pendevig – WINNER
Yr Hwntws

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Roy Saer for his many decades of work and scholarship with the traditional songs of Wales. Roy began collecting and recording Welsh folk songs in the 1960s and his collection is at the heart of the St Fagans National Museum of History folk song archive.

The Folk Prize for the best collection of three original tunes went to Huw Roberts of Anglesey, well known for his playing of the iconic Welsh instruments the triple harp and the crwth as well as the fiddle.