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BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards

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BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards
Event hosts, Mark Radcliffe and Julie Fowlis
Awarded forOutstanding achievements in folk music
CountryUnited Kingdom
Presented byBBC Radio 2
First awarded2000; 24 years ago (2000)
Television/radio coverage
NetworkBBC (2000–2019)

The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards celebrate outstanding achievement during the previous year within the field of folk music, with the aim of raising the profile of folk and acoustic music. The awards have been given annually since 2000 by British radio station BBC Radio 2.

Award recipients have included Joan Baez, Cat Stevens, John Martyn, Steve Earle, The Dubliners, Martin Carthy, Billy Bragg, Shirley Collins, Kate Rusby, Cara Dillon, Eliza Carthy, Bellowhead, June Tabor, Oysterband, Aly Bain, Richard Thompson, Nancy Kerr, Seth Lakeman, Show of Hands, Lau, Tom Paxton, Don McLean, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Nic Jones, Bella Hardy, Rhiannon Giddens, Norma Waterson, The Chieftains, Joan Armatrading and James Taylor.


The awards are managed by independent production company Smooth Operations, now part of 7digital. Kellie While of Smooth Operations has stated that the idea of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards was conceived by the company in 1999, inspired by the Country Music Awards, and brought to the BBC,[1] and The Guardian has attributed their creation to John Leonard, who formed Smooth Operations in 1995.[2]

The awards event has been staged in different regions of the United Kingdom, including The Brewery in London, The Lowry theatre in Salford, the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall during the 2013 Celtic Connections festival, the Bridgewater Hall during the 2019 Manchester Folk Festival,[3] the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff in 2015,[4] and the Belfast Waterfront in 2018.[5] In 2014, 2016 and 2017, the event was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London.[6] Reviewing the 2014 Royal Albert Hall event, Colin Irwin remarked on how much more glamorous it had become since the first event fifteen years earlier.[2]

Between 2000 and 2012 the Folk Awards were hosted by Mike Harding, and broadcast on BBC Radio 2. Mark Radcliffe and Scottish Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis took over presenting the ceremony in 2013. In 2004 the awards were shown on television for the first time, on BBC Four. The event has been streamed live in audio and video on the BBC Radio 2 website, the BBC iPlayer and/or the BBC Red Button TV service.[7]

The BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award has been included in the award event since 2011, having previously been awarded in a separate ceremony, but its selection process remains independent.[8][9]

In 2016, Rhiannon Giddens became the first non-British winner of the 'Folk Singer of the Year' award.

In 2020, there was no award ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The controlling body is the Folk Awards Committee, comprising two BBC staff, two from the production company 7digital Creative, and one external expert. Two Nominated Representatives, one from 7digital and one from the BBC oversee the process. The Folk Awards Committee selects a panel of 150 representatives from the British folk world, including broadcasters, journalists, record producers, festival organisers, venue bookers, record company directors, agents and promoters. The panellists vary slightly from year to year, with new panellists being invited (or self-applying) each year.[10]

The nominations in most categories are made by the panel. The four most-nominated artists go through to the second round. The winner is then selected from the nominees by a second vote among the same panellists. Since 2013, following criticism of the lack of transparency of the selection process, there have been some exceptions to this general process. The second round of the "Best Album" category is determined by a public vote, hosted on the BBC website. The two track categories, "Best Original Track" and "Best Traditional Track" were removed from the main panel. They are now voted by a much smaller specialist panel of judges, appointed by the Folk Awards committee, whose identities are published.[10]

Broader categories, including the "Lifetime Achievement Award" and the "Good Tradition Award" are chosen by two rounds of votes by the Folk Awards committee only. These may not be awarded every year.[10]

The BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award, although presented at the Folk Awards ceremony since 2011, has its own independent selection process.[10]

The selection process has been the subject of criticism, with accusations of bias, cronyism, and lack of transparency. In 2012 The Independent reported that there had been at least two Freedom of Information requests to identify the panellists, which have been rejected by the BBC. The BBC and 7digital have responded that the panellists are kept secret to avoid lobbying and bribery.[11][12][13]

Compilation album[edit]

A Folk Awards double-album, featuring music by most of the nominees, was released annually by the event's producers in collaboration with BBC Radio 2 and the record label and distribution company, Proper Music.[14]

Hall of Fame[edit]

In 2014, a posthumous award was introduced to celebrate the contribution of significant figures in folk music's past.[15]

Award winners[edit]


Presenter Mark Radcliffe was also presented with a special Folk Award to celebrate his 40 years in radio.

Venue: Bridgewater Hall, Manchester[3][16]


Venue: Belfast Waterfront[17]


Venue: Royal Albert Hall, London[18]


2016 Best original track: The Rheingans Sisters
  • Best Original Song: Mackerel - The Rheingans Sisters

Venue: Royal Albert Hall, London[19]


2015 Best group: The Young'Uns

Venue: Millennium Centre, Cardiff[20]


Venue: Royal Albert Hall, London[21]


Venue: Glasgow Royal Concert Hall[22]


Venue: The Lowry, Salford[23]


Venue: The Brewery, London[24][8]












See also[edit]


  1. ^ Awbi, Anita (13 October 2016). "Kellie While". PRS for Music. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  2. ^ a b Irwin, Colin (20 February 2014). "Folk is growing up but it still has a lot to learn". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  3. ^ a b "BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2019 announces performances and Lifetime Achievement Award". BBC. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  4. ^ Irwin, Colin (23 April 2015). "Homegrown talent shines as Wales hosts BBC folk awards". The Guardian.
  5. ^ "BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards: Belfast to host event for first time". BBC News. 7 February 2018. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  6. ^ "BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, 2017: Folk Album of the Year". BBC Radio 2.
  7. ^ "BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017". BBC. 6 February 2017. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  8. ^ a b "BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2011 winners announced". BBC. 8 February 2011. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  9. ^ "Radio 2 Young Folk Award 2010". BBC Radio 2. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  10. ^ a b c d "BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards:Folk Awards Rules". Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  11. ^ Clark, Nick (4 February 2012). "Could it all be a fiddle? Folk stars tell the BBC to reveal who judges awards". The Independent. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  12. ^ Greenslade, Roy (13 December 2011). "Why won't the BBC reveal the names of its folk awards judges?". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  13. ^ Hartley, Emma (30 January 2013). "BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards: bottom of the class". The Spectator. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  14. ^ "BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017". Proper Music Distribution. 9 March 2017. Archived from the original on 31 March 2017. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  15. ^ "BBC - BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017 - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  16. ^ Irwin, Colin (18 October 2019). "COLIN IRWIN ON THE BBC RADIO 2 FOLK AWARDS 2019". Folk Radio UK. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  17. ^ "BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2018 – Winners Revealed". Folking.com. 4 April 2018. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  18. ^ "BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017 Winners Announced". Folking.com. 6 April 2017. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  19. ^ "The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2016 winners are…". Folking.com. 28 April 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  20. ^ "The Winners of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2015 Announced". Folking.com. 23 April 2015. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  21. ^ "BBC RADIO 2 FOLK AWARDS 2014". Folking.com. 3 December 2013. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  22. ^ "BBC - BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2013 winners announced - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  23. ^ "BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2012 Winners Announced". Folking.com. 10 February 2012. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  24. ^ "BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2011 Winners | Folk Radio". Folk Radio UK - Folk Music Magazine. 8 February 2011. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  25. ^ a b c d e "BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2009: Previous Winners". BBC Radio 2. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  26. ^ a b c d "Radio 2 Folk Awards 2004: Previous Winners". BBC Radio 2. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  27. ^ "Folk honours its heroes". BBC News Online. 11 February 2002. Retrieved 5 October 2016.

External links[edit]