My name is Rhys, a first time dad blogging about my adventures and experiences of being a parent. [email protected]

Welsh artists in the spotlight at international showcase

Wales’s folk music will take centre stage – and screen – as the focus of a celebration of contemporary Celtic music and culture at one of the world’s leading international music industry events next month (2-4 February 2022).

For the first time in 15 years, Wales is the featured international partner at Showcase Scotland, a prestigious spotlight event for the music industry at the Celtic Connections festival. In 2020 the festival in Glasgow played to an in-person audience of over 130,000 people which included booking agents and cultural leaders. Last year’s digital event was watched by more than 27,000 people from over 60 countries around the world. This year, the digital edition of Showcase Scotland and the hybrid Celtic Connections programme aims to bridge with audiences in Scotland, Wales and across the world.

Six artists from Wales – N’famady Kouyaté, Eve Goodman, Pedair, Cynefin, The Trials of Cato and NoGood Boyo – have been chosen through an open call led by Wales Arts International to represent Wales on the world stage.  Their selection reflects the diverse, inclusive, and bold nature of contemporary Welsh music, which is aiming to carve out its own voice within the internationally celebrated Celtic music scene.

The Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden said: “I’m delighted that artists from Wales are featuring in this special year for Wales in Celtic Connections and Showcase Scotland. This is a welcome opportunity to develop closer ties between Welsh, Scottish and global arts organisations, with reciprocal opportunities for Scottish and international artists here in Wales.

“Music is at the heart of Welsh culture and communities and is central to our well-being. Our music has been shaped by our relationship with diverse cultures internationally. In these difficult times music brings joy and hope here in Wales and we also look forward beyond the pandemic to sustainable international cultural collaborations.”

A focal point of the digital programme will be a closed showcase for the music industry on Friday 4 February to coincide with Dydd Miwsig Cymru (Welsh Language Music Day), an annual celebration of Welsh language music both in Wales and internationally.

Led by Wales Arts International, the international agency of Arts Council of Wales, the event is supported by Welsh Government’s Cymru Wales brand toincrease international engagement, career development and touring opportunities for Welsh artists. It will raise the profile of Wales while also opening a dialogue about the diversity of Celtic culture.

Eluned Hâf, Head of Wales Arts International said:

“Welsh folk music is about to take the world by storm, and I couldn’t be prouder. From the purity of Eve Goodman’s tuneful singing, the unique harmonies of Pedair and the way in which Cynefin’s music flows from Wales’ land, to the musicianship of The Trials of Cato, the upbeat tunes of No Good Boyo and the magical sound of N’famady Kouyaté’s smooth vocals and balafon bridging West Africa and Wales, our music will bring joy and a new experience for audiences around the world.

Like Wales, our Celtic cousins Asturias, Brittany, Cornwall, Galicia, Ireland and Scotland have all nurtured their own distinctive sounds. Wales has perhaps been less well known in the Celtic music circles, which have developed a particular and joyful transatlantic sound. That is changing. This year Wales is inviting the world to discover the lesser known and diverse sounds of our own indigenous language, our music and identity. Whilst we are all disappointed that we will not meet in Glasgow this year, we look forward to coming back together over the next year and we’ll be announcing more opportunities to do so at this year’s event.”

To celebrate the beginning of the UN Decade of Indigenous Languages the theme developed for Wales’ engagement for the first year of the decade will be ‘Gwrando – Listening’. At Showcase Scotland and Celtic Connections this will mean listening to music in Gaelic and Scots and forging opportunities for Scottish artists to share their talents in Wales.

Donald Shaw, the Creative Producer of Celtic Connections who chose the six artists from a shortlist drawn up by a diverse panel chaired by Arts Council of Wales, added:

“I’ve been blown away by the quality and diversity of applications by musicians from Wales and look forward to seeing them perform in Celtic Connections this year. As 2022 marks the beginning of the UN Decade of Indigenous Languages we look forward to listening to and creating space for music and cultural expression in indigenous languages.”

Due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, the live 5-day Showcase Scotland programme has been replaced with a slimmed down 3-day online digital event from 2-4 February. The Spotlight Cymru Wales event at 15:00 on Friday 4 February is a delegate only event, featuring performances by the six Welsh artists in front of an audience of global music industry delegates.

The Celtic Connections festival itself is due to proceed as a hybrid event, with a reduced programme of live shows and an accompanying digital offer.

More than half of the Welsh artists due to perform at Celtic Connections will continue to do so and others will be given another opportunity to perform at a later date – and all will be featured in the film ‘Dyma Gymru | This Is Wales at Celtic Connections 2022’.