Nick Hart, singer and multi-instrumentalist specializing in traditional English folk music, has been declared the winner of the Christian Raphael Prize 2021 in association with the Cambridge Folk Festival.
Launched at the festival in 2018, this young talent development award contributes Â£ 2,400 per year towards travel and touring marketing costs, as well as time spent in a rehearsal space or recording studio. .
A showcase spot in the club’s tent at the 2022 Folk Festival is also guaranteed – one of five performers to watch during the year – which leads to a spot on Stage 2 the following year.
Cambridge Folk Festival director Rebecca Stewart said: âI’m delighted Nick won. He’s such an interesting performer who finds and sings little known songs and sings them in a really smart and engaging way. The jury was unanimous in the decision and felt that the award would really help advance his career. I can’t wait to see what happens next for him.
Previous winners are Mishra and in 2019, Katherine Priddy, both of whom performed on the festival’s emerging talent stage, The Den. Recently special guest on Mark Radcliffe’s BBC Radio 2 folklore show, Katherine spoke about her debut album, The eternal rocks beneath, and Nick Hart was also announced as this year’s Christian Raphael Award winner.
The award was created and is funded by Christian Raphael MBE, an inspirational figure and a staunch supporter of the Cambridge Folk Festival’s commitment to young and emerging talent. A 34-year-old man with severe and multiple learning disabilities who communicates non-verbally, Christian Raphael has attended the Cambridge Folk Festival for many years.
Nick Hart, from Cambridge – he grew up in Romsey, just off Mill Road – told the Cambridge Independent: âIt’s nice to have some recognition at a very strange time for everyone in the industry. “
The 31-year-old, who now lives in Bristol, admits he was surprised when he first heard: âLooking at the previous winners they are all so much fresher and full of obvious youthful vigor whereas, although I haven’t had much success as a folk singer, I feel like I’ve been there for a while. But I think maybe that’s why it’s even more touching to have been chosen for that.
âWe haven’t really been able to do our work very much over the past 18 months, so I think we’ve all missed as artists the great feedback you get from the public – so for somebody an acknowledging the work you do as being of some value is a wonderful and indispensable thing for my own sense of self, without wanting to get too grandiose about it! “
While he typically covers traditional English folk songs – while adding his own touches and arrangements – Nick also enjoys a parallel career of writing music for the theater. He has been a professional musician for ten years.
“It wasn’t until the second half of my twenties that I started to focus on trying to do solo stuff, the kind of act I do now, and trying to really m ‘get out of it,’ he said. .
âI’ve missed all of this helping hand that is out there for young folk musicians – the various programs and awards and things that are designed to give a boost to young performers. I kind of felt like I missed my chance, so it’s very encouraging to have received that.
Nick attended the Cambridge Folk Festival “most years in one form or another” throughout his teenage years and believes he performed at The Den about 10 years ago, adding that he must have played it in 2020 and this year – âbut obviously that didn’t happen,â he said.
Commenting on the award, Christian’s mother Vicki Raphael said, âAfter a hiatus in 2020, we were delighted to launch the award online this year. We’ve watched so many fantastic artists and it was hard to pick a winner, but we really can’t wait to see how Nick Hart’s career unfolds over the coming year.
âIt has been brilliant over the past few years for Christian and his family to follow the success of Mishra and Katherine Priddy, the previous recipients. This year’s award comes at a time when support for artists is badly needed. We derive such joy from following the artists and are delighted to be involved.
The shortlist for this year’s award was drawn from a list proposed by The Den’s bookers and the jury consisted of Rebecca Stewart, Christian Raphael and Vicki Raphael, development manager Amie Hoyland, from the Cambridge Folk Festival programmer Eddie Barcan and publicist Richard Wootton.
Nick recorded a new album at home during the first lockdown and hopes to release it in the fall.
For more information on Nick, visit nickhartmusic.com.
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