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Celebrate TG4’s 25th year with the annual Gradam Ceoil TG4 awards on Halloween night

 

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To celebrate TG4’s 25th birthday, TG4’s annual Gradam Ceoil Awards will air on TG4 on Oíche Shamhna, Sunday, October 31st from the Whitla Hall in Queens University, Belfast at 9.30pm.

The awards, now in its 24th year and presented by Doireann Ní Ghlacáin and Caoimhe Ní Chathail, recognise and pay homage to musicians who have advanced, strengthened, and preserved Irish traditional music in Ireland and around the world.

The premier annual traditional music awards scheme and academy involves an independent panel of adjudicators to select recipients each year. These recipients are then presented with a specially commissioned piece by leading sculptor John Coll, as well as a small stipend.

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Gradam Saoil / Lifetime Achievement winner Seán Ó Sé. Credit: Maurice Gunning

Gradam Saoil / Lifetime Achievement winner Seán Ó Sé. Credit: Maurice Gunning

Gradam Saoil / Lifetime Achievement winner Seán Ó Sé. Credit: Maurice Gunning

The full list of TG4 Gradam Ceoil 2021 recipients have already been announced ahead of the awards:

  • Gradam Ceoil TG4 2021/ Musician of the Year 2021: Angelina Carberry
  • Ceoltóir ÓgTG4 2021 / Young Musician of the Year 2021: Sorcha Costello
  • Cumadóir TG4 2021 / Composer of the Year: Steve Cooney
  • Gradam Saoil TG4 2021/ Lifetime Achievement: Seán Ó Sé
  • Amhránaí TG4 2021 / Singer of the Year 2021: Niall Hanna
  • Gradam Comaoine TG4 2021 / Outstanding Contribution: Glengormley School of Traditional Music

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Gradam Ceoil TG4 2021/ Musician of the Year 2021: Angelina Carberry

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Angelina Carberry. Credit: Maurice Gunning

Angelina Carberry. Credit: Maurice Gunning

Angelina Carberry. Credit: Maurice Gunning

The Gradam Ceoil TG4 2021 / Musician of the Year 2021 prize will be awarded to Angelina Carberry. Angelina was born in Manchester but has been living in Longford since the 1990s, where her family are from.

The Carberry family are renowned musicians with her father Peter known for playing the button accordion. Angelina started playing traditional music on the tin whistle, but quickly followed in the footsteps of her grandfather Kevin, a well-known banjo player at Longford céilís and house dances and took up the banjo.

“I grew up with music all around me from a very young age,” says Angelina. “It's always been a huge part of my life and I'm delighted that my daughter has got involved in music too. She plays the piano and the fiddle, and she has started to play the banjo now too, which I’m obviously delighted about! I think this award has ignited music in the younger generation of the family and I'm enormously proud to see it.”

Angelina was a member of the renowned, all-female band, the Bumblebees. The group included accordionist Colette O’ Leary, with Angelina on banjo and mandolin and 2019’s Gradam winner, harper Laoise Kelly. But Angelina says the last year has been difficult as concerts and festivals were cancelled or delayed, leaving live musicians like herself at a loss.

“It’s been incredibly challenging for everybody in the music industry and the arts. And it is not easy for people to adapt to online resources. But it’s amazing to see live music coming back. I'm really looking forward to playing at the Ennis Trad Fest in November. And we have just recorded a new album called ‘Back in Time’.

“Music is a massive part of our lives and it's very important for our overall wellbeing to have performances and recordings back. It will boost everyone's spirits!”

To top off the excitement of live performances later this year, Angelina says receiving the Gradam Ceoil award means the world to her.

“I'm still shocked that I’m getting this award. Thank you to TG4 Gradam Ceoil, this award is for my family for passing down the love of music over generations. It’s going to be an incredible night!” 

Cumadóir TG4 2021/ Composer of the Year: Steve Cooney

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Steve Cooney. Credit: Maurice Gunning

Steve Cooney. Credit: Maurice Gunning

Steve Cooney. Credit: Maurice Gunning

Steve Cooney will be awarded Cumadóir TG4 2021 / Composer of the Year. Born in Melbourne, Australia, Steve came to Ireland in 1980, but has always maintained his connections with the Aboriginal culture there.

Steve is best known for his development of an influential style of guitar accompaniment to traditional Irish dance music, which he developed in West Kerry and for which he won the National Entertainment Award with Séamus Begley in 1997.

“My father played the guitar and I learned how to play from him since I was three or four years old!” says Steve. “During my teenage years, the Vietnam War was at its height and there was a big anti-war movement with a strong musical element. The Beatles were singing 'All You Need is Love', so peace and love and playing music were much more appealing to me than being conscripted and being sent to Vietnam. At 16, I dropped out of school and became a professional musician. So, in that way, the path of becoming a musician was laid out for me.”

Steve says the lockdown has been very challenging for society at large, but strangely he enjoyed the chance to spend time at home, as he loved not spending the majority of his time on the road playing concerts.

“I really enjoyed having a steady routine, but the gigs are coming back now which is a wonderful thing, and the audiences are very appreciative. You can sense the extra enjoyment among the listeners at concerts, it's like a novelty. Quite a few venues have been creative about putting up outdoor structures which have allowed some gigs to go ahead, and with the restrictions of limited numbers, you have to adapt. It'll be interesting to see how it evolves!”

The TG4 Gradam Ceoil award means a lot to Steve, particularly as it is for his compositions.

“It's a very great honour for me to be awarded the Gradam this year, especially given that it's from TG4 and because it acknowledges my compositions. Most of the recognition I have received has been for playing the guitar, so to know that there is some awareness of the tunes I've written is a wonderfully gratifying thing.

“I'm writing a piece for the occasion too, but I have a bit of work to do on it yet to knock it into shape. I will be putting together a small band on the night to play it, so that will be great. I miss playing with a band. It should be great craic!”

Amhránaí TG4 2021 / Singer of the Year 2021: Niall Hanna

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Niall Hanna. Credit: Maurice Gunning

Niall Hanna. Credit: Maurice Gunning

Niall Hanna. Credit: Maurice Gunning

Tyrone’s Niall Hanna is this year’s Amhránaí TG4 2021 / Singer of the Year 2021. His grandfather, celebrated Irish traditional singer Geordie Hanna, Geordie’s sister Sarah Anne O’Neill, and the extended Hanna and O’Neill families ensured he was immersed in music from a very early age.

“I come from a very musical family, as they have run a traditional singing festival every year since before I was born,” says Niall. “This meant I heard these types of singers from a very early age, which had a huge influence on me growing up. My brother and I would play music in a trad band, and I would sing. I liked all sorts of music from rock and indie rock, but I always came back to folk music and traditional Irish singing.”

Niall has embraced the wider Ulster traditional song repertoire while also developing his own songwriting talents. His solo work and various musical collaborations continue to bring Ulster music and song to a wider Irish and International audience.

“It's great to keep those songs alive and play them for audiences. I would change the musical arrangements for them to provide a different take on the songs, but they are still being sung and heard across the world. “

When the pandemic broke out last year, Niall was on a tour in Germany, and they had to be sent home early. But even though it was tough with arts events and tours shut down, Niall says he managed to adapt his performances.

“I recorded music and made arrangements for new music. I did some online gigs, singing and playing into the camera. It was a totally different way of doing it, but it’s incredible to be able to adapt in those ways.  I'm really looking forward to being able to do more face-to-face shows very soon. I have a few gigs lined up in the next couple of months in front of an audience. So, it’s very exciting right now!”

Now, having won Singer of the Year, Niall says he is still surprised by the recognition.

“I wasn't expecting it at all. A lot of the singers that have won the award previously are the people that I look up to and who have influenced me. People like Rita Gallagher, Len Graham, and Rosie Stewart have all won before and I listen to them all, so it means a lot to be given the same award.

“I’m getting ready to perform on the show and I will be taking a few close friends along with my brother who will be playing with me. It will be so nice to play together again because it's been a while. I’m really looking forward to it!”

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Cork native Seán Ó Sé, who first rose to fame as a singer, singing and recording the most popular song ‘An Poc Ar Buille’ with Seán Ó Riada and Ceoltóirí Chúlainn back in the 60s. Since then, his voice has been recognised as one of the great voices of this country.

From Tulla in east county Clare, fiddle player Sorcha Costello will be awarded the title of Young Musician of the Year. And the Glengormley School of Traditional Music is awarded the Outstanding Contribution Award for 2021. Over its 20-year history, this essential hub has nurtured countless musicians, many of whom have gone on to work professionally. The summer courses in Donegal bond young people socially and musically and instil in them a deep passion for music-making.

The show will feature stand-out performances from award recipients Angelina Carberry, Steve Cooney, Sorcha Costello, Seán Ó Sé, Niall Hanna and the Glengormley School of Traditional Music. Viewers will also be treated to a specially commissioned piece by Belfast harpist Úna Monaghan. Oíche Shamhna on TG4 is going to be very special this year!

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, tickets will not be on sale to the public for this concert. Tune into TG4 on Halloween night, Sunday, October 31st at 9.30pm or worldwide on the TG4 Player


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