The distinctive folk voice of Fay Hield

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.

Folk star and University of Sheffield music lecturer Fay Hield has a two-night residency at Yellow Arch Studios next week.

Fay built a formidable reputation for being able to deliver a song beautifully by going straight to the heart of it with her first two solo albums, Looking Glass, released in 2010, and Orfeo two years later.

They won her many accolades as well as a nomination for the Horizon Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Fay’s choice of material and its delivery reflected a rare sensitivity and appreciation of the tradition whilst remaining naturalistic and highly distinctive.

For Orfeo Fay fronted a stellar supporting cast, The Hurricane Party, consisting of some of the finest folk musicians.

The Hurricane Party are Andy Cutting (button accordions, melodeon), Rob Harbron (English concertina, fiddle, vocals), Sam Sweeney (fiddle, viola, cello, nyckelharpa, vocals) and Roger Wilson (fiddle, guitar, mandolin and vocals, plus special guests Jon Boden and Martin Simpson.

In her role as a lecturer, Fay specialises in the role folk music plays in the construction of communities.

That combination of academic and performer led on to the pioneering project The Full English, sponsored by the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

For the first time many of the finest early 20th century folksong collections can be found in the most comprehensive searchable database of British folk songs, tunes, dances and customs in the world.

To mark its launch, Fay assembled The Full English Band, pulling together half a dozen of the top talents on the English folk music circuit for an evening of songs and tunes drawn from these unique collections.

They include legendary players Seth Lakeman, Martin Simpson, Nancy Kerr, Sam Sweeney, Rob Harbron and double bassist Ben Nicholls.

The group toured for two years and released a self-titled album in 2013.

It won both Best Group and Best Album at the 2013 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and earned Fay a nomination for Folk Singer of the Year.

Fay moves forward as a leading proponent of traditional songs with her new album, Old Adam.

Music session promoters Bright Phoebus say: “This fresh and original exploration of how we use songs, stories and music to understand what it means to be human combines vision, inspiration, dedication and outstanding musicianship to draw an act of tender poignancy.”

The Hurricane Party has now expanded to include members of The Full English, including fiddle, concertina, banjo, guitar, percussion and bass.

The music changes from contemplative to festival stomp with plenty of chances for the audience to join in.

Fay Hield and The Hurricane Party play Yellow Arch, Neepsend on Monday and Tuesday.