Jodie Marie

The story so far… Sixteen year old Jodie Marie was plucked from the obscurity of rural Wales to embark on a glamorous pop star career in 2012. And then what?

In 2023 a more worldly young woman sat contemplating how the journey into the star making machinery and back has affected her approach to music.

The UK doesn’t have the regional musical diversity of the USA, but go west to Pembrokeshire where the land ends and there’s nothing but sea until you get to America, and there’s a studio in an old chapel that’s the nearest thing we have to the legendary Muscle Shoals. The studio is near nowhere, set in dramatic coastal countryside that, a long way from London, helps shape the music made there.

There Jodie and partner Owain live and create a music that resonates with the traditional virtues that recall Bonnie Raitt, Etta James or Loretta Lynn. Others listening hear Amy Winehouse or The Black Keys. They collect and use vintage equipment, the same gear that would have graced the recordings of Little Feat or Booker T.

Some good things came from the brush with stardom, particularly the long lasting song writing partnerships with Ed Harcourt and Dan Smith. The journey also helped her find where she wanted to be and the value of authenticity in music. Like soul, it’s either something you have or you don’t.

Jodie has it and isn’t going to let it go again.

Parisa Fouladi

‘In that ‘rare groove’ tradition Parisa Fouladi’s music and songs exude Soul, Capital ‘S’. Gorgeous laid-back soulful vocal laid over cool minimal beats. This is Urban Wales’.
Rhys Mwyn, BBC Radio Cymru

Grubb & Eedens

After years of performing together in various projects and as a duo, David Grubb and Darren Eedens have brought together their unique style and influences to create Grubb & Eedens. Having shared stages in the UK and Europe, as well as notable festivals such as SXSW, Cambridge Folk Festival, Black Deer Festival, and Focus Wales, this new project is destined to find its way to many more exciting places. Old traditions, from across the Atlantic, with new twists and influences will bring out sounds of Celtic, Folk, Americana, and Bluegrass. Banjos and fiddles drive the sound, while unique style and writing keeps listeners wanting more.

Sophie Jamieson

Sophie Jamieson is a London-based songwriter who delivers intimate, visceral and uncomfortably honest songs. She explores the dips and troughs of mental health, uncompromising examinations of loneliness and pain, but always with an underlying strength that promises hope, and growth.

Sophie released her first EP, Where to critical acclaim in 2013. A botched recording experience and a personal breakdown contributed to a withdrawal altogether from music for four years, in which she trained as a cocktail bartender and thought she’d never make music again.

In 2019 however, something changed, and the songs started coming. Since then, Sophie has released two EPs, Hammer and Release, which examine depression, coping mechanisms and isolation, as well as the effort to rescue oneself.

Her debut album, Choosing, will be released this winter on Bella Union. Following on from 2020’s EPs, it aims to close this chapter by looking at self-destructive behaviour straight in the face and grappling with it more uncompromisingly than ever before. It’s about trying, failing, and trying again, to pull yourself out of a downward spiral, choosing yourself and allow yourself to live.

“The title of this album is so important,” Sophie explains. “Without it, this might sound like another record about self-destruction and pain, but at heart, it’s about hope, and finding strength. It’s about finding the light at the end of the tunnel and crawling towards it.”

Gwenifer Raymond

Gwenifer Raymond began playing guitar at the age of eight shortly after having been first exposed to punk and grunge. After years of playing around the Welsh valleys in various punk outfits she began listening more to pre-war blues musicians as well as Appalachian folk players, eventually leading into the guitar players of the American Primitive genre.

In 2018 she signed to the American label ‘Tompkins Square’ and released her first album ‘You Never Were Much of a Dancer’ to widespread acclaim. In 2020 her second album ‘Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain’ shifted somewhat from straight Americana and started to take more of a spiritual influence from the landscape of her homeland of Wales. Recalling from her childhood memories of spooky trees, black against the grey sky and breath misting in cold air there is present a style of guitar playing that could be referred to as ‘Welsh Primitive’.

Gwenifer has toured extensively throughout the UK and the Europe and has established herself as one of the leading lights of the scene, and not to be missed under any circumstances.

Al Lewis

Al Lewis is an award winning bilingual singer/songwriter from Wales. His music has gathered support and praise from eminent DJs, tastemakers and critics across the UK, Europe and beyond.

Al has performed at events such as the Americana Music Festival in Nashville (by invitation of Bob Harris + BBC Music); the Philadelphia Folk Festival (USA) and Celtic Connections in Glasgow.

Al’s Christmas single based upon the Dylan Thomas story, ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’ was the first song partly sung in Welsh to make it onto the BBC Radio 2 playlist.

Al is also a fervent collaborator – in both the award-winning duo Lewis & Leigh – whose album Ghost came out to critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic and GLASLYN his project with soundscape artist Kayla Painter.

Al’s last album ‘Te yn y Grug’ (Tea in the Heather) was a concept choral-folk piece, material from this album had premiered as part of the hugely successful sell-out musical of the same name at the 2019 National Eisteddfod.

In April, Al released his latest single ‘The Farmhouse’. A song about the impact that second-home ownership is having on Welsh language communities.

Mooi

Mooi are a sweet song-writing duo from Wrexham, North Wales, who were first active in the mid 2000’s, and who developed a loyal audience and critical acclaim for their music, before taking some time out to pursue other musical projects. We’re so pleased to announce that the band are back together, and we’ll have a very special performance as part of FOCUS Wales 2023.

Ben Ottewell

Ben Ottewell is a singer-songwriter, perhaps best know as a member of the award winning band Gomez, who is now also forging a career as a solo artist.

Katherine Priddy

Since emerging with her debut EP ‘Wolf’ in 2018, UK artist Katherine Priddy has quickly become one of the most exciting names on the British scene. Declared ‘The Best Thing I’ve Heard All Year’ by Richard Thompson, who later invited her to join him on his Irish tour in
2019 and UK tour in 2021, Priddy’s haunting vocals and distinctive finger-picking guitar style have seen her sell out a headline tour, support world class artists including The Chieftains, Loudon Wainwright III, John Smith and Vashti Bunyan.

Over the past two years, she has played well-earned spots at prestigious festivals in the UK and abroad such as Glastonbury, where she also performed live on BBC 2, Green Man, Cambridge Folk, where she was awarded the Christian Raphael Prize, End of the Road and Beautiful Days.
During the pandemic, Priddy hosted a series of well-attended live-streamed concerts as well as taking part in online events such as Philadelphia Folk Festival, further expanding her international audience.

Her much anticipated debut album, ‘The Eternal Rocks Beneath’, was released in June 2021 on Navigator Records to great acclaim. The album singles received 200+ plays across national radio including BBC Radio 6 Music and BBC Radio 2, and upon release, the album received a 5 star review in Songlines, a 4 star review in the Observer, reached No. 1 in the Official UK Folk Charts and No. 5 in the Americana charts.

Folk Radio UK made Priddy ‘Artist of the Month’ and said of the debut LP: “Foundations rarely come stronger than this. A debut of true substance, it’s like searching for a simple shelter and stumbling upon a diamond mine.”

The album was later chosen as Album of the Week on RTE Radio 1 in Ireland, and made the list of Top 10 2021 Folk Albums in Mojo Magazine as national radio plays continued months after the release. 2022 got off to a flying start with Priddy taking her music abroad for the first time with a series of shows in Australia, including a performance at Port Fairy Folk Festival, as well as a showcase in Kansas City USA as part of Folk Alliance International.

This was then followed by an invite to perform one of her songs as part of the world-renowned BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall, accompanied by the BBC Concert Orchestra. With more exciting plans still in the pipeline, it seems Priddy’s momentum is showing no signs of slowing anytime soon.

Her live performances are engaging, moving and amusing by turn, delivering original songs with emotional maturity, depth and a tenderness that still carries a darker edge. Her lyrics are particularly noteworthy-a tribute to her life-long love affair with literature and poetry and the stories she weaves are transporting. It is clear that, despite the delicate nuances of her sound, Katherine Priddy is not a fragile wallflower, but a determined young woman ready to make her mark.

“Utterly brilliant…one of my favourite voices in contemporary music” Guy Garvey, BBC 6 Music

“Not to be missed.” 5/5 Songlines

“An accomplished set of original songs delivered in a breathtaking voice” 4/5 The Observer

“Sumptuous songs that define the impressive qualities of this most erudite of songwriters”
4/5 RNR

“Beautiful and poised” Tom Robinson, BBC 6 Music

“KP is pure. Beautiful in every way. Her music gives me that wonderful feeling when you know that something is so special.” Janice Long

“A voice of delicacy and poignancy with its own subtle strength underpinned by a skilled observer’s eye” Mark Radcliffe, BBC Radio 2

VRï

VRï – Jordan Price Williams (cello, voice), Aneirin Jones (violin, voice) and Patrick Rimes (viola, violin, voice) – are three young men from deepest chapel-going Wales who have mined the cultural upheaval of past centuries and drawn inspiration from the incredible story of a time when Wales’ traditional music and dance was suppressed by Methodist chapels, and, earlier, its language by the Act of Union. Three-part harmonies, stunning fiddle playing and the unusual addition of cello forge the VRï sound that is totally unique. Since forming in 2016, the trio have been in search of an elusive ‘chamber-folk’ aesthetic – pumping out their native foot-stomping dance tunes whilst maintaining the poise and elegance of a string ensemble. It’s a cross-genre idea that’s very familiar to Scandinavian and North American audiences, but hitherto unheard of in Wales. A joyous celebration of Welsh identity, sung in the Welsh language.

Press have likened them to the Gloaming, Leveret and Duncan Chisholm for their reinterpretations of native song and tune traditions, and their ability to conjure amazing soundscapes, all underpinned with incredible vocal harmonies. Accolades for their 2019 debut album Tŷ Ein Tadau include Winners of Best Traditional Song in the Welsh Language, Wales Folk Awards 2019; Winners of Best Album, Wales Folk Awards 2019; Nominees for Best Traditional Track, BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

The name VRï is a word in the Welsh language meaning ‘above’, ‘aloft’, ‘floating’…or simply ‘Up’, with the spelling inspired by Hen Gymraeg (Old Welsh). It describes the sensation of playing this kind of vocal & instrumental chamber music – all six voices independently interacting with one another, without the presence of any kind of ‘anchor’ or safety ropes (be those anchors rhythmic like a drum kit, or melodic such as fretted or keyboard instruments). It’s an experience that is equally exhilarating and terrifying for the performers…and hopefully engaging for the listener!

Wrexham One Love Choir

Wrexham One Love Choir was formed in November 2018 under the leadership of musical director James Sills, and is affiliated to the Choir With No Name network across the UK. Run under the umbrella of Adferiad, a charity that supports recovery across all of North Wales, the choir is based in Wrexham, and is open to anyone who has been affected by homelessness, addiction, mental illness, or who is marginalised or vulnerable in any way. During lockdown the choir was able to perform out in the open air a few times, but the loss of community and purpose was felt very keenly when the choir was unable to meet regularly. Now they are singing together again every week, learning new songs and welcoming new members. The choir is a positive community that supports all its members, building confidence and rising up to meet new challenges.

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