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Hebcelt stage can be a platform for success

Hebcelt stage can be a platform for success

One of the joys of putting together the programme for the Hebridean Celtic Festival over the last 20 years has been seeing the emergence of up and coming talent.

Everyone connected with HebCelt is passionate about supporting young and unheralded artists and providing a stage to bring them to a bigger audience with the aim of helping them fulfil their potential.

Previously, we have run our own One Step Further contest to find the best young bands and provide them with a slot at the festival. It is a rewarding experience unearthing young musicians at the start of their careers and giving them an early break in the hope it will inspire them to greater things.

That is why we are so supportive of the CalMac Culture Music event, which ended on Friday with the final at King Tut’s in Glasgow after a contest which started last month to find the best amateur singers and musicians.

One of the winners, Bella and the Bear, a duo from Ayr, have rightly earned a slot in front of HebCelt’s multi-national audience in our 20th anniversary year, which will provide them with invaluable experience at this stage in their career.

Last year’s winner, the Glasgow-based singer and guitarist Sophie Rogers, won a place at HebCelt where she was the first artist to perform on the newly-introduced acoustic stage. It was great to see her again on Friday night. Sophie was a great addition to our list of artists and I’m sure Stuart Ramage and Lauren Gilmour, who make up Bella and the Bear, will be a big hit with our many music fans.

As one of the CalMac Culture Music judges, I viewed dozens of videos of entrants over the last few weeks and have been hugely impressed by the standard of the entries.

Like One Step Further, it has demonstrated the wealth of talent that exists across Scotland and beyond on the live music scene.

The festival is delighted to be able to play a part in providing this kind of opportunity which can only help drive artists to become better and also give our festival audience the chance to hear fresh and exciting new music.