Award-winner Fay Hield keeps traditional folk music alive

Fay Hield and the Hurricane Party at Buxton's Pavilion Arts Centre on February 4.
Fay Hield and the Hurricane Party at Buxton's Pavilion Arts Centre on February 4.

BBC2 Radio 2 Folk Award winner Fay Hield will be in Buxton with her band the Hurricane Party.

Ahead of her visit on February 4, she shared stories about forgotten songs discovered afresh, winning awards and the music tradition of the region:
Q. You are well known for your work with The English Folk Dance and Song Society which brought together the finest 20th century folk songs into a searchable database, tell us about that.A. They asked me to turn some of the music back into living sound to help spread the word.  I got The Full English together and we worked exploring the archives, eventually recording the album in 2013.  We found some great songs, like Hornet and the Beetle, a veiled examination of our justice system through insects being gobbled up by a woodpecker – I love that one. 
Q. You have worked with many big names in the folk scene but if neither distance nor time were an object, which artists would you form a band with?

A. I love singing with people, so it’d have to be a massed group of singers through the ages, including Cher, Lal Waterson and Peter Bellamy.
Q. You live in Sheffield, do you think there is a big folk scene in this part of the world?
A. We live in the Peaks to the north of Sheffield, so we pop into Buxton quite a bit. There is loads of music round here, not just the big concert venues but all the sessions, singarounds and dance sides.  This is an area with loads of tradition and a strong sense of community so the music really thrives. 
Q. You are a music lecturer and academic at the University of Sheffield, do you have any more research projects in the pipeline?

A. I am doing a small piece of research looking at what the music means to people and how they access it.  I am writing a big application in the spring, so watch this space!
Q. You won a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award, how was that experience?

A. Utterly amazing, mostly because we had to play live on the red button at the Royal Albert Hall, I don’t think I’ve been so terrified in my life! Then getting two awards was so lovely.  We worked really hard on the project, but you’re never quite sure how people will receive a load of new material and an experimental band, so I was really chuffed that it all worked.
Q. What can audiences expect from your gig?

A. The new album Old Adam, follows a similar vein to the Full English in that I have dug out lots of great repertoire from the English tradition. I get to work with the country’s top musicians so the arrangements are upbeat, toe tapping and energetic.  There are some poignant moments too, and some sing along choruses. 

l Fay Hield and Hurricane Party, Pavilion Arts Centre, Thursday, February 4, at 7.30pm. Tickets £16, call 01298 72190 or visit