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by Debbie Koritsas
Bella Hardy
erbyshire singer-fiddler folk degree course at Newcastle
Bella Hardy’s agent took a University, where Bella herself took
telephone call three months a Masters in Primary School song
ago from the BBC: “We’d like education. Her studies led her to
Bella to come and sing at the BBC explore the adaptation of the Radio
Prom Folk Day.” She still seems Ballads for children.
incredulous at receiving this
request to contribute to the first She divides her time at the moment
Prom ever dedicated to the Folk roughly 50/50 between Edale and
Arts, but is relishing the opportunity Newcastle. She laughed when she
to take part in such a high profile said: “My parents wouldn’t dare
event that celebrates the life and change my room at home!” She’s
work of Vaughan Williams. been working up in Newcastle for
two years on occasional teaching
Bella comes across as a bright, projects, mainly teaching group and
breezy, cheery young woman, fun to harmony song at The Sage. Her
talk to, full of enthusiasm and very students have mainly been men,
focused. Her gig calendar, bursting and Bella is quick to praise the ‘fine
at the seams, is testament to these voices’ of her north-east pupils.
qualities. She describes this year as Before Newcastle and her rapid
‘meltdown’ she finds herself so busy, ascent on the English folk scene,
but she seems to be thriving on it. Bella studied English Literature at
Her enthusiasm is infectious. York University. “I’ve always been a
story person, which is why I studied
She fell in love with the folk festival English Literature. But of course I’m
scene when she was a teenager even fonder of the singing side of
and is already, very early on in her story-telling.”
professional career and still in her
early 20s, a very integral part of that Bella grew up in the village of Edale
scene. She has a distinctive, honest in the Peak District National Park.
style of presenting her songs, and Her parents moved there before she
is passionate about what she does. was born, and her dad is head of the
“Honesty is the key
She is one of a significant swathe Youth Hostel in the village. Having
of upcoming English folk musicians a dad who works for the YHA has
who are currently making a very been fantastic for Bella’s burgeoning
strong impact on the folk scene. The musician career – he has many
for me. It’s very
English scene in particular is currently connections throughout the UK:
nurturing a crop of utterly convincing “I’ve got so used to travelling around
young performers who seem to because of the YHA, and always feel
much what I do.
instinctively understand what folk at ease and settled wherever I am.”
music is all about, and above all, they Edale nestles in a valley beneath the
respect where the music came from, gritstone plateau of Kinder Scout, an
and the stories and meanings behind area known as the Dark Peak. Kinder
I don’t try and do
the songs. Scout was the scene of 1932’s ‘Mass
Trespass’, a renowned act of protest
Bella’s success is down to her against laws that kept walkers off
honest, direct, and very original style the land they loved, led by Benny
things that I don’t
of presenting her own compositions Rothman. Perhaps the ‘grittiness’ of
and her repertoire of traditional this landscape and its history rubs off
songs, and the very distinctive on the locals, for Bella is as honest,
manner with which she’s put her straightforward and feisty a northern
very individual stamp on them. Her lass as they come.
stage presence is confident, witty and
relaxed, and she enjoys an easy, very Bella, encouraged by her mum to
funny rapport with her duo partner, take up the fiddle, and by her dad’s
Photo by Beth Hardy
Yorkshireman Chris Sherburn of love of singing, grew up with two
Last Night’s Fun. Any reader who’s sisters. Emma is an art teacher, fiddle
already seen the duo this year will player, and sings on Bella’s debut
understand exactly what I mean album ‘Night Visiting’. Her other
– they sing, play and they laugh; sister Beth plays saxophone. “There
they’re enjoying what they do. A was always a lot of communal singing
good few of her contemporaries have in our house,” Bella recalls. “Dad did
emerged from the highly regarded the dishwashing, singing at the top of
The Living Tradition - Page 2
Issue80.indd 25 14/7/08 14:49:50
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