Feature: Katherine Priddy – My Inspiration | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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On Saturday 11th May Birmingham’s Katherine Priddy, one of the UK alternative folk scene’s rising stars, will be performing at Down By The River’s show at the Claypath Delicatessen, Durham (alongside North-Yorkshire troubadour George Boomsma). She released her debut EP, Wolf last September and has been championed by both BBC Radio 2 & 6, as well as opening up for major artists such as Scott Matthews, Trembling Bells and Vashti Bunyan. Here, Katherine discusses what made her want to be a folk artist in the first place and about how she is driven to succeed in male-dominated music scene.

I can pinpoint the moment I was inspired to perform myself down to a very specific event. I remember it clearly; my mum had bought tickets for us both to see Waterson Carthy performing locally.  I’d been to numerous folky gigs over the years, but the moment Eliza Carthy stepped out and picked up her fiddle, I was transfixed. She possessed such a bold, powerful stage presence, stomping about with her piercings and punky hair, wielding her instrument and relaying these old folk songs in a way I’d never really heard them relayed before…by a strong, young and female voice. I remember then and there thinking to myself ‘I want to play music too’.  After the show, my mum dragged me up to meet her. I was so shy I couldn’t say anything, but I still treasure the ticket she signed for me that night. A couple of years ago I had the honour of supporting Martin Carthy, Eliza’s father, and Dave Swarbrick and Carthy signed the very same ticket. It was a very precious moment where I felt as though I’d gone full circle – the shy little girl who watched the Carthys that night and decided she wanted to play folk would have been so happy to think she’d be opening the stage for the same chap in 10 years’ time.

Though both bracketed as ‘folk’, myself and Eliza’s music is fairly different. I certainly don’t possess the same boisterous power as she does, and there’s less of an emphasis on traditional songs in my sets.  However, I do think that initial influence of seeing such a strong female presence on stage for the first time is something that I have carried with me over the past decade. I don’t think anyone can deny that the music scene is still a fairly male-dominated arena.  I very rarely turn up at shows to see another female lead band on the line up, a female sound engineer, a female promoter, a female event organiser etc…it’s nearly always men and, over the years, I’ve found that can be quite intimidating at times. Being a solo female musician does present different issues on the music scene, whether it’s the regular well-meant but patronising comments and suggestions after shows, sleazy promoters or being constantly referred to on billings as a ‘female musician’  rather than just a ‘musician’. Whilst there are more and more women breaking through there is still a marked gap between the genders, and whilst I never meant for this article to become a feminist rant, I do feel as though it’s this discrepancy in gender that inspires me to play in some part. I am in many ways driven by a desire to prove to myself, first and foremost, and to others that I can be confident and that I deserve to be there on stage, something that is often very difficult to feel for any musician, and even harder when there are fewer role models to aspire too.  If I could inspire another girl to pick up her instrument or her pen and start writing and performing in the same way that Eliza Carthy inspired me, then I would be a very happy woman.

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