Bella’s folk festivities

Bella Hardy
Bella Hardy

The festive spirit starts to pour into the Greystones on Sunday when award-winning folk singer and fiddle player Bella Hardy returns with her Christmas-themed performance.

Born and raised in Edale in the Peak District, Bella absorbed many of the traditional local carols that can now be heard ringing from pubs across Derbyshire and the Sheffield area.

Six years ago saw the release of her album, Bright Morning Star, which featured Castleton carols Peace O’er The World and Sons of Men, along with the Holly and the Ivy and the Coventry Carol.

Not so traditional were the additions to the album of the likes of Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and even Shakin’ Stevens’ Merry Christmas Everyone.

So expect a bit of everything as Bella takes to the stage again this weekend, due to be joined by guitarist and singer Sam Carter, a major figure on the folk scene in his own right.

And it’s not just Sheffield that’s getting Bella’s festive folk treatment this Sunday, on December 2. Bella will also be making her return to Edale, at the village hall, the following Sunday, on December 9.

Things have moved on since Bella released her debut album in 2007 and began to pick up nominations in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2008.

She won Best Original Song in 2012 for The Herring Girl and was named Folk Singer of the Year two years later.

Renowned for performing traditional and her own songs, she has soaked up influences from around the world.

An album of poetry and song, Eternal Spring, was recorded live in Kunming, China, in 2017, following a Chinese residency backed by the British Council and PRS Foundation.

Then there was a temporary relocation to Nashville where she focused on collaborative songwriting – and also took time out to work as a ranch hand.

Her experiences resonate in her ninth solo album, Hey Sammy, which runs to ancient Chinese poems, feminist battle cries, humanist hymns, the traditional ballad, Tam Lin, and the title track’s reflections on the rise of racism in Britain.

*The Greystones will host another evening of festive folk later in the month, when Winter Union performs in the Greystones Road pub on Sunday December 16.

Six leading lights of the British folk/roots scene – Jade Rhiannon, Katriona Gilmore, Jamie Roberts, Ben Savage, Hannah Sanders and Cliff Ward – will come together to celebrate the season with a repertoire that will include fresh arrangements of traditional carols, well-loved and little known Christmas classics as well as a host of new songs.

* Also next month, award-winning Irish folk singer Cara Dillon helps to restore faith in the true Christmas spirit with a show rooted in reverence, faith, joy and celebration.

Upon A Winter’s Night opts for traditional carols and original compositions to reflect the magic and mystery of the time of year.

Cara and her excellent band will be taking to the stage at the University of Sheffield’s Firth Hall, on Western Bank, next Thursday December 6.