What is Americana? – Lady Neade and Carmen Phelan

We’re still digging into this joint quest with Country In The UK to pose the question to a few UK acts in the week that the Americana Music Association UK hosts its annual festival and awards ceremony, this year, by necessity, an online event.

Lady Nade is another nominee for this year’s AMA-UK Song Of The Year award.

Lady Nade in 2020

“As an active singer-songwriter gigging and touring regularly, strangely I wasn’t aware of the Americana community until I was invited to be a backing singer with my friend Yola at the 2016 awards. I was blown away by the warmth of the community and quickly signed up as a member myself. The Americana community has welcomed me with such open arms and I haven’t looked back. I’ve had so many opportunities open up including international showcases and collaborative charity single releases and now a Best Song nomination of recognition for my songwriting. Seeing how the AMAUK works to support not just the people in the community but outside of it too. For example, Hackney Elders Windrush and The NHS songwriting workshops.

Americana is such a collective genre that falls under the umbrella form. My music has finally found a home where I am no longer restricted by pure forms of any genre. I feel very supported and part of a collaborative community. As a woman and woman of colour within this community, I don’t feel pigeonholed as before, something which has happened to me in the past.

I’m excited by the Americana music scene in the UK and the people I’ve met. Be it other artists, promoters and audiences. Who knows what the next few years will bring but I’m looking forward to the vibrant live music scene coming back.”

Finally, Carmen Phelan, singer with Misty River, an Americana band based in London with roots in the west coast of Ireland and the US was kind enough to send us her thoughts.

“For me Americana music is, and has always been, the perfect lovechild; born to different cultures with deep musical roots reaching far down into ever fertile soil.

It’s a shining light where musical traditions interact and thrive alongside each other, finding similarities and shared experiences along the way. As a fiddle player who learnt from an Appalachian old-time teacher, it’s always been clear to me how the tunes move, develop and take on their own colours and hues, according to who is playing and telling the story. Two minutes spent in the company of musicians at any trad. session across the UK will bear witness to a never-ending discussion around how a song is known by many different names, with players and singers from different countries each claiming it as their own.

Being Irish I hear many familiar Irish and Scottish tunes in Bluegrass songs and the storytelling is very familiar, whilst the old-time singers have a way of singing very similar to Irish Sean Nos singers, it’s really quite beautiful. In Americana, the songwriting and storytelling stand apart in its directness, truthfulness. This marrying together of familiar Scottish, Irish and African and Gospel traditions are the elements of Americana to which I’ve always been instantly drawn. This ever-evolving tradition is very much alive not only in America but also across the world, feeding back to the cultures it originated from in a unique musical circle of life, one that all the great folk traditions follow.

Here in the UK, as support for the genre has grown, it’s wonderful to see the fresh new takes on the music informed by UK musicians’ own experiences. I also love that there are such strong Americana scenes now across the UK outside of London, in places such as Sheffield, Glasgow, Manchester and Sussex to name but a few. Artists in the UK and further afield playing Americana shouldn’t be viewed as novel or as appropriating someone else’s music; it’s this special, symbiotic relationship that gave birth to the genre in the first place. It’s so exciting to see how well some of the UK acts are doing in the US and abroad now, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for UK Americana acts!”

We hope you have enjoyed and perhaps even agreed with some of the sentiments we’ve posted over the past three days. In the meantime, the AMA-UK Festival ends tonight but it’s still worthwhile buying a ticket (for a measly £25) as you can watch all three nights for another fortnight. Tickets here.

About Paul Kerr 424 Articles
Still searching for the Holy Grail, a 10/10 album, so keep sending them in.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments