📷 by Nicky Murray
This year life took a turn as I won BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2023 award. Fresh out of RCS last June, the time leading up to the competition was spent juggling working in a pub, teaching and working on music projects. Just a week before the Young Trad final I decided to hand in my notice to the pub and brave the life of a full-time musician, actually winning the award following this felt like a strange twist of fate.
Life has had a change of lane since winning the award and I’ve been so lucky to receive opportunities which have allowed me to develop and perform new solo and collaborative material. A highlight so far this year was heading home for the Shetland Folk Festival which felt like a total homecoming. Coincidentally the Folk Festival had planned a BBC Young Trad Showcase and had invited previous winners Ali Levack, Michael Biggins and Eryn Rae up, leaving an empty slot for whoever the 2023 winner may be. It was class to collaborate with Ali, Michael and Eryn for the Young Trad Showcase as part of the festival, and we managed to arrange some two piano nonsense (which almost fell through due to a bunged grand piano – Shetland Arts managed to call in a piano tuner just before doors opened and all was well at the end of the day).
A focus over the past few months has been with my new trio which I formed with Lea Søndergaard Larsen (Bodhran) and Rhona MacDonald (Double Bass). I managed to tackle the post Folk Fest Shet-lag and The Amy Laurenson Trio was debuted the weekend after Shetland at Edinburgh Tradfest. I’m looking forward for some exciting gigs with the trio over Summer as we head up to Eden Court’s Under Canvas Festival, and support Flook at this year’s Newton Stewart & Minnigaff TradFest.
Another project I’ve been busy with is my duo with Miguel Girão (guitar). We joined Live Music Now Scotland earlier this year and have been loving being part of the great organisation. Both having had classical training, it’s been class to explore and create new music which fuses our traditional and classical influences. We’re heading to Fogo Kirk in the Borders on Sun 16 July, and Miguel is also joining me for a gig shortly after at Cambridge Folk Festival on Fri 28 July.
Myself and Miguel are also part of a recently formed Scandi/Scottish Folk band, ‘Tern’. Forming the rest of the band are Lea Søndergaard Larsen (Bodhran), Rose Logan (Fiddle) and Kristina Leesik (Fiddle). We released our first single Shetland Reels earlier this year alongside a music video shot in the Pianodrome by the stunning Nicky Murray. Also earlier this year we were one of the winners of the Danny Kyle Award as part of Celtic Connections. The final Danny Kyle showcase took place on Sun 5 Feb which happened to be the same night as the Young Trad Final… it was a bit of a hectic day! After playing first at the Young Trad final in City Halls, I managed to rush over to the Concert Hall to play with Tern for the Danny Kyle showcase, and made it back to City Halls in time to find out I’d won the Young Trad.
This year I’ve been trying to secure funding to record my debut album. Recently facing a rejected funding application was a bit of a reality check after the highs of earlier this year, but a humbling experience and reminder that rejection is a normal part of freelance life that we all have to face and deal with. I’m hoping to secure funding soon and really looking forward to releasing my music whenever that time comes.
Outwith my own music, I’ve been spending time recently getting inspired by the thriving Scottish Music scene and all the exciting projects that have popped up so far this year. Some recently released and upcoming music I’ve been enjoying/looking forward to includes Dave Milligan and Simon Thoumaire’s album ‘Portraits’, the soon-to-be released album from Fraser Fifield, Tom Bancroft and Paul Harrison – ’Secret Path’, and a lush new collaboration between Norman Willmore and Corrie Dick.
I’m looking forward to summer and exciting gigs, you can follow along with what I’m getting up to & see my upcoming gigs through my website linked below. Hopefully catch ya out there!