It’s that time of year again when all eyes and ears in the folk and trad music world turn to the annual MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards, as creator and host body Hands Up For Trad throws open the doors once more for the public vote.
Nominations have been submitted, HUFT organisers have compiled their shortlist in each category and it just leaves the final phase to choose those individuals, bands, festivals, and community groups who deserve greatest recognition for their work throughout the year.
We the people can cast our votes and, yes, every vote will be counted! But you only have until midnight on Sunday 15th November to mark your card for your favourite musicians, singers, tutors, organisers, and many others who make the folk world go round. This year of course has been like no other and the Awards reflect this, so along with the usual categories like Album of the Year, Musician of the Year etc, there are sections for online Performance of the Year and Trad Video of the Year.
While all live gigs and performances in venues stopped back in March, many musicians have sought out alternative ways of bringing music to audiences and have embraced technology and online opportunities to deliver a huge variety of incredible performances.
Beautiful, poignant, homely, sometimes incredibly funny and entertaining, many musicians and organisations have gone way beyond the call of duty. I have waxed lyrical within this column about many of my own favourites over the last eight months; those people who have given of their time and talents, not to promote anything, but simply to share music and brighten up the days of viewers and listeners.
Creativity has of course continued behind the scenes; new albums have been recorded and released, stunning videos have been made, projects developed, and new music composed. I would hazard a guess though that for most musicians this year has been one of mixed experience.
The loss of all live work and earnings, loss of teaching and tutoring in schools, and associated financial pressures have affected many, and while you might think that more free time could translate into more creativity, it doesn’t always turn out like this. While art does often come from adversity, a prolonged cloud of uncertainty can sap the motivation of even the most prolific creators.
Although there is no live event to attend this year, the online Trad Awards will be broadcast on BBC Alba on 12th December with pre-recorded musical performances. In this hugely challenging year, it feels especially significant to recognize and celebrate the positive contribution of music to our well-being and the lightening of our spirits through difficult days.
(First published by Highland News & Media 13th November 2020)