Meredydd Evans

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Meredydd Evans
Born (1919-12-09)9 December 1919
Llanegryn, Merionethshire, Wales
Died 21 February 2015(2015-02-21) (aged 95)
Genres Folk, Traditional, Welsh
Occupation(s) Singer, TV producer, Academic professor, Activist, Music collector, editor

Meredydd Evans (9 December 1919 – 21 February 2015) known colloquially as Merêd, was a collector, editor, historian and notable performer of folk music of Wales written in the Welsh language. His award-winning recordings of his own unaccompanied vocal performances and his published editions in collaboration with his American-born wife Phyllis Kinney have helped to preserve Welsh musical legacy and promote it world-wide.

Early years[edit]

Born in Llanegryn in Merionethshire, Evans was brought up in Tanygrisiau.[1] He attributes his first exposure to Welsh folk songs to his mother who sang to him when he was a child.[2] His interest in Welsh music developed at the University College of North Wales, Bangor, under the influence of Mrs. Enid Parry. At Bangor, he was a frequent performer, often with Cledwyn Jones and Robin Williams and they later notably starred in Noson Lawen (he was the cwac cwac of Triawd y Buarth.)

A lifelong advocate of non violence, Evans faced a military tribunal to defend his conscientious objector status during World War II. Evans was given an unconditional discharge on religious grounds.[3][4]

I maintain my Christian beliefs more than ever with these wars which occur today. The creation of the atomic bomb and weapons like that mean you wouldn't have a world war, but global destruction. There's nothing that could justify that.

I know there are people who believe in war as a way to sort out problems, that it's the best choice of a bad lot, and I respect their opinion. They have the right to believe it, but I can't agree.

Meredydd Evans 2009

Academia and TV work[edit]

Evans met Phyllis Kinney, an American singer whilst she was working in the UK. The couple married and moved to her home country. In 1954 he recorded an important selection of songs for Folkways Records in New York City while a Ph.D. Candidate in philosophy at Princeton University.

After his return to Wales, he and his wife edited three collections of Welsh songs described as "definitive reference-works for this genre of national song."[5] Between 1963 and 1973 he returned to popular entertainment as Head of Light Entertainment for BBC Wales, and a producer of numerous popular television programmes including Lloffa, Fo a Fe, Ryan a Ronnie and Hob y Deri Dando.

Political activism[edit]

Evans was a senior figure in Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (the Welsh Language Society) and a lifelong advocate of non-violent revolutionary means to promote the interests of Welsh speakers. In 1979, Evans along with two fellow academics, Ned Thomas and Pennar Davies, was sentenced by the Carmarthen assizes for breaking into the Pencarreg television transmitter in the campaign which would lead to the establishment of a Welsh language broadcasting service.[6]

In 1999 Evans was again in court after refusing to pay his TV licence, stating there had been a decrease in the amount of Welsh broadcasting over the proceeding decade.[7][8]

In March 2014 Meredydd was quoted as backing further peaceful demonstrations by Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg[9] following protests in Aberystwyth.

Later life[edit]

In April, 2007, the University of Wales published a Festschrift volume for Evans and Kinney, "a fully bilingual collection of critical essays on various aspects of Welsh song and traditional music by Wales’ leading experts and musicologists"[10] to celebrate their contribution "not only to Welsh traditional music but to the very culture and language of Wales."[11]

In 2012, Merêd appeared on Gai Toms' album, Bethel, on which he sang Cân y Dewis [12]

In 2013 he was awarded 'Tywysydd' ('Guide') in the first ever Parêd Gwyl Dewi Aberystwyth (St David's Day Parade) for his services to Wales and the Welsh language.

Evans died at the age of 95 on 21 February 2015.[13]

Publications[edit]

  • Hume Gwasg Gee, Denbigh. 1984.
  • Merêd: detholiad o ysgrifau Dr. Meredydd Evans (eds Geraint Huw Jenkins, Ann Ffrancon), Gomer, Llandysul, 1994.
  • Canu'r Cymry Volumes 1&2. Welsh Folk Songs. Welsh Folk-Song Society.

Recordings[edit]

  • Merêd - Caneuon Gwerin 2005 (double album, Sain SCD2414)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Meic Stephens (ed.), 'Cydymaith i Lenyddiaeth Cymru' (Caerdydd, 1997).
  2. ^ Meredydd Evans, Welsh Folk-Songs: Sung by Meredydd Evans (New York:Folkways Records)
  3. ^ http://www.welshnot.com/people/meredydd-evans-man-dont-give-folk/
  4. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/northwestwales/hi/people_and_places/religion_and_ethics/newsid_8334000/8334699.stm
  5. ^ Sain (Recordiau) Cyf. (Caernarfon, Wales)
  6. ^ http://www.oxforddnb.com/templates/article.jsp?articleid=64693&back=
  7. ^ http://www.welshnot.com/people/meredydd-evans-man-dont-give-folk/
  8. ^ http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-60437665.html
  9. ^ http://dailywales.net/2014/03/07/veteran-campaigner-backs-language-protests/
  10. ^ "Bearers of Song". Bangor University. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  11. ^ Wyn Thomas in a promotional notice for Harper, Sally & Wyn Thomas. Bearers of Song: Essays in Honour of Phyllis Kinney and Meredydd Evans (Bangor: University of Wales, 2007)
  12. ^ gaitoms.com
  13. ^ http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-31567287

External links[edit]