Congratulations to Joy Dunlop who has been nominated in Gaelic singer of the Year sponsored by The Highland Society of London in the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2020. Vote here! Vote now!
We asked Joy Dunlop of Joy Dunlop the following questions.
Tell us about yourself
Crowned Traditional Singer of the Year & Traditional Dance Champion at the 2015 Pan Celtic Festival, Joy Dunlop’s singing career is the result of a life–long fascination with Scotland’s traditional music and has led her all over the world; from major Celtic festivals, to touring the UK, Europe, Canada, USA, Japan and New Zealand.
Through her singing, she showcases Gaelic music and song in a contemporary way that always remains true to its roots. Nominated as Gaelic Singer of the Year 2016, 2011 & 2010, she has also won both the coveted Royal National Mòd Gold Medal and the Oban Times Gold Medal and released two highly acclaimed solo albums, ‘Dùsgadh’ and ‘Faileasan’. In 2020 she realised a duo album with her brother Andrew, entitled ‘Dithis’, and she is also the driving force between ‘Gaelic/Gaeilge supergroup’, LAS. Joy has also released collaborative albums with Twelfth Day, Music Makes Me and Melody & Derrick Cameron, amongst others.
A popular television & radio presenter, Joy is a presents the weather on both BBC Scotland & BBC ALBA, in addition to frequent appearances on Radio Scotland and Radio nan Gàidheal. She also conducts the Alba Choir, Scotland’s first ever Eurovision entry, when they participated in the 2019 Eurovision Choir of the Year finals in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Why are you involved in Scottish music?
I was born and raised in the small village of Connel in Argyll, on the west coast of Scotland – an area that’s steeped in traditional music and Gaelic heritage. I have always loved to sing and dance and despite not being raised with Gaelic, I was unbelievably lucky to have been encouraged to keep singing over the years and I was given many performing opportunities for which, I’m truly grateful. Even after leaving Argyll, I’ve always retained a deep connection to these roots and my love for Gaelic singing and its native music and culture has only deepened over the years.
Whilst I love the performing side of being a Gaelic singer, it’s the community aspect that I truly treasure. The mutual love for Scottish music and its many facets that we have is something that binds us together and that shared kinship it so important – particularly in these difficult COVID times. Whilst I have undoubtedly yearned for the opportunities and travel that performing normally affords me, it’s the people and the friendship that I’ve really missed.
This year has proved more than ever, that the traditional music community is something truly special and I will always feel lucky to be a small part of it.
Any particular career highlights?
It’s hard to top being Scotland’s first ever Eurovision representation – singing Gaelic songs live to an audience of 5 million people, in 10 countries across Europe was just unbelievable, especially to a Eurovision super-fan like myself!
On the solo singing front, winning the Gold Medal at the National Mòd is the thing that I’m most proud of. I grew up attending Mòds and the Gold Medal competition was a firm favourite. Winning the premiere Gaelic singing competition as a Gaelic learner was something that I’d always worked towards and I still get a small thrill when I see my name featured on the former medalists’ list.
Lastly, whilst 2020 will go on record as my least remarkable one performing wise, it was a real pleasure to be able to release a duo album with my brother Andrew. We’ve performed together for years and despite bickering semi-constantly, he’s still my favourite person to make music with.
What are your plans for the future?
As I mentioned above, I released a duo album with my brother Andrew at the end of March this year, just as we went into full lockdown (amazing timing!). We had to cancel all our tour dates as a result, so it would be lovely to be able to perform our new material together in the future.
I was also working on new songs with my 5 piece band line up pre-lockdown and I hope to further develop this, with the aim of recording a new solo album next year. Whilst social distancing has made this very difficult this year, I’m ever hopeful that we’ll find ways to combat this in the future.
Additionally, I also want to continue with the community projects that I love – my Covid Choral workshops, planning the next TIONAL Gaelic festival, the Taynuilt Cèilidhs. And who could forget my lovely choirs – the Alba Euro choir, Atomaig Piseag, Còisir Ceann an Tuirc and Ceòlraidh Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu. Here’s hoping that it won’t be long until we can sing again together.
The MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards, Na Trads 2020, will be broadcast on BBC ALBA on 12th December 2020 at 9pm where the award winners will be announced along with specially recorded music performances. During the day on Saturday the 12th, you will be able to watch from 1pm til 9pm a day of live Scottish trad music including Kinnaris Quintet, Dallahan, Inyal, Paul McKenna Band, Ryan Young and Jenn Butterworth and many more here https://youtu.be/amByvVzxl5E. Keep up to date with all the latest information by joining the Hands Up for Trad newsletter at https://handsup.link/Newsletter or use the hashtags #natrads #HUFTonline.
If you would like to support Hands Up for Trad in their work with Scottish trad music and musicians please consider supporting our Patreon campaign. We have 3 tiers starting at $1 a month and everything helps support us in our work. Read more at www.patreon.com/handsupfortrad