It’s been several months since Derbyshire lass Lucy Ward found herself at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards to pick up the Horizon Best Newcomer Award – and she’s still in shock!
“It was pretty nerve wracking just to be there, and I still can’t quite believe it. I’d spent weeks hyping myself up so I was a bag of nerves by the time I got there. John Tams was in front of me, and Jackie Oates and Jim Moray sitting behind me, so straight away, that was amazing.
“When Badly Drawn Boy read out my name, I was shaking,” she recalls of the shock announcement. “I ran up onto the stage as no-one was going to stop me getting that award – ha-ha! But it was all a bit of a blur….”
The award has had a huge effect on Lucy, whose debut album, Adelphi Has To Fly (Navagator Records), showcases her impressive voice and playing, and burgeoning songwriting talent.
“I’ve just finished a spring tour and people were coming up to me saying that they’d seen me on the TV, liked the sound of me, and just wanted to see me. That’s amazing!” she coos. “That they’d seen me and liked what they’d seen on the telly at the awards, gone onto the internet, had a look at YouTube, and then come along to a gig!”
A self-confessed music buff who’s dabbled in rock, musicals and even a choir, Lucy stumbled on the folk genre almost by accident.
“Unlike a lot of other young folk musicians around at the moment, I didn’t grow up in a folky family. All I knew about folk was from hearing Bob Dylan,” she says. “My mum and dad bought me a guitar for my 14th birthday, I learnt four songs and went to an open mic’ night where I became a bit of a fixture, and that’s where I heard my first folk song.
“I’d always been into lyrics and stories and these folk songs I was hearing really captured my imagination – they were these mad love stories and murder stories.”
Fired up by borrowed albums and the back catalogue of fellow 2012 Folk Award winner June Tabor, Lucy’s repertoire grew quickly.
“It was never my intention to be a folk singer, and I never once imagined that I could be a professional musician. I always intended to go to university … but here I am, in my fourth gap year!” chuckles the 22-year-old, who adds: “I have a picture of Joe Strummer up in my house so folk hasn’t taken over all my tastes. But folk and acoustic music … without meaning to sound like I’m being arrogant … seems to be what I’m quite good at.”
Being “quite good” has certainly led to a busy summer, with a series of solo dates and a live collaboration with Derby trio Cupola as Cupola:Ward.
“I met Sarah [Matthews – from Cupola], who is a great fiddle player, through a Derbyshire songwriting project that bought eight musicians together to write about the industrial past of Derbyshire and our personal past,” Lucy says. “I started writing with Sarah and we hit it off straight away – we have similar personalities. Cupola sing brilliantly, but are also awesome instrumentalists, and they invited me along.”
Of an early summer date at Birmingham’s Black Diamond Folk Club (8 June 2012), she says: “This will be our third or fourth thing together. It’s a great opportunity to play with such great musicians [and] I get to strut around like Mick Jagger!”
Sadly, it’ll be an all too rare appearance for the spirited quartet.
“We’ve already recorded together, but they’ve got a busy gig schedule and my 2012 is looking full too. But we’ll fit things in where we can, and maybe bring it to the forefront in the coming year.”
While there are a fair few club dates in her diary, the majority of Lucy’s summer shows are festivals including Cambridge (27 July) and Oysterband’s Big Session (15-17 June 2012). Now located at Catton Hall, in South Derbyshire, the revitalised fest’ finds Lucy joining triple BBC Radio 2Folk Award 2012 winners the Oysters and her heroine June Tabor, plus Leisure Society, Eddi Reader, Show Of Hands, Chris Wood, Jon Boden and Scott Matthews.
“I’d been once before to The Big Session, at the old site at Leicester De Montfort, and thought the vibe was just brilliant – so like a little Glastonbury, really family-friendly, with this real community feel to it. It was so accessible, and eclectic too, with this community vibe.
“So to be invited back, and to be comparing the main stage for the whole weekend, making me a feature of the festival, is just wonderful! And it’s in Derbyshire now, and to have a Derbyshire act so involved, such a part of it is brilliant … we should have a wonderful time!”
Interview by: Dave Freak
Lucy Ward – For the Dead Men
Lucy will be appearing at The Big Session Festival which runs from Friday 15 to Sunday 16 June 2012, at Catton Hall, Walton-upon-Trent, South Derbyshire. Tickets from £30 (day)/ £87 (weekend) from www.bigsessionfestival.com
For all her other tour dates visit: www.lucywardsings.com