The Second BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards
Cumberland Hotel
London 5th Feb 2001

As he handed over one of BBC Radio 2’s first Folk Awards last February, Jimmy Nail raised a great cheer when he said: “I love folk music because it’s made by people, not computer programmers.”

My producer John Leonard and I got the idea when we were in America a few years back and suddenly realised that though there was a Country Music Hall of Fame in the States there was nothing in this country that would recognise talented musicians and applaud great music in a similar way.

This music – call it folk, roots – acoustic whatever – is the the music we grew up with through the folk clubs of the sixties and seventies and on into the concert halls and festivals of the last two decades – we love it because it is handmade music, music from a tradition, music with a great truth untrammelled mostly by purely commercial consideration.

Most of the people who make this music do it because they love it – not for the money – and you’d have to shoot them to get them to stop.

The winners of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards have been chosen in a private vote by a panel of eighty professionals working within folk music as agents, critics, journalists, publicists or festival organisers.

We didn’t need to have nominations because a clear winner has emerged in each category.

We’re keeping the winners secret until my show on Wednesday February 7, but I can say all have made a major impact this year, and one artist will be collecting more than one award.

I’m glad to say that there’s been a lot of media interest in the Folk Awards, particularly in this second year. Perhaps it’s because the music we play bridges such a range of styles.

This year we’ll have Mary Black, Taj Mahal and the John Tams Band performing at  the show alongside Blazing Fiddles, Bill Jones, The Copper Family and Mike McGoldrick.
That’s a pretty diverse bill, isn’t it!

Although we’ll announce the winners first on my Radio 2 show on Wednesday, February 7th, there’ll be features on BBC television, the Radio 2 folk website (www.bbc.co.uk/radio2), in many music magazines and on many websites. It’s great that the major on-line and High Street record stores are planning dedicated displays around the Folk Awards.

The more successful this event becomes and the more support we get for folk music, the better. Certainly I will look down from the stage after compering the event at the Cumberland Hotel in London and think that folk music’s never been in better health.