Iona Fyfe from Huntly, Aberdeenshire is a finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician 2017. We asked Iona the following questions:
How did you get involved in Scottish music?
I come from quite a musical family and when I was five years old my cousin Benjamin and aunt, Sandra introduced me to Doric poetry and the work of the late Ian Middleton. My family took me to the Buchan Heritage Society and TMSA Keith Festival where I competed in Doric poetry and was introduced to a community of revivalist folksingers who encouraged me to compete in Bothy Ballad and Traditional Ballad competitions. I was taken to folk clubs, singarounds and sessions. My family really nurtured my musical interests and I started learning piano. I dabbled in Musical Theatre and Classical Song throughout secondary school but it became very evident where my heart lay.
Why did you enter BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Award?
Coming from a competitive singing background, I think the feedback you can get from competitions is so valuable long term. I think playing for a panel of professional musicians who will give you feedback will be a great learning experience.
I think that the competition has really made me think quite deeply about my performance practice – what songs? why? what is the message i want to get across? I think the competition really pushes you to take authorship of your creative decisions.
What do you hope to gain from the experience?
I hope to promote the song repertoire, heritage and culture of my native Aberdeenshire and represent the North East as an exponent of the Doric vernacular.
I hope to also broaden my musical taste and ability. I’m really excited to get to spend some time making some nice arrangements with our accompanists and to be involved with the TMSA Trad Tour and collaborate with such a versatile group of musicians!
Do you have any particular musical highlights?
One of my musical highlights was playing Swallow in an am-dram production of Whistle Down The Wind. I absolutely loved the musical and was chattering in a deep south accent for weeks after! It was very different and great to work on!
In 2014, I was part of a project called “Where You’re Meant to Be”, a tour and film about folksong and culture. I met Sheila Stewart and was lucky enough to share a stage with her at a packed Barrowlands as well as other singers who I looked up to such as Danny Couper and Joe Aitken. An experience the then-16 year old me would never forget!
The band are heading to perform at The Royal Albert Hall in London as part of Music for Youth Proms in November – I think that will be quite a highlight!
What are your plans for the future?
I plan on performing quite a bit and recording a new CD – this time a full album with my band! After university at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland I’d love to spend more time back in Aberdeenshire to do some region-related research. I’d also like to do a wee bit of teaching! I’d really love to travel to Appalachia and spend some time learning about Ozark song traditions and its link with British folksong!
Why not buy a ticket to hear Iona Fyfe or any other of the finalists at the Grand Finals on Sunday February 5th at 5pm. The finals are part of Celtic Connections festival. If you can’t make it along the event will be broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland between 5 & 8pm and on the iPlayer afterwards.