A unique new prize, reflecting Cambridge Folk Festival’s support for developing young talent, has been established to help new musicians embarking on their careers.

In its inaugural year, the prize has been established and funded by inspirational figure and keen supporter of Cambridge Folk Festival’s commitment to emerging young talent, Christian Raphael MBE. A 30 year-old man with severe and multiple learning disabilities who communicates non-verbally, Christian is a firm believer that disability is no barrier to having an ordinary life. With an extensive circle of support, he lives independently pursuing many interests with music being central to his life. He has attended and enjoyed Cambridge Folk Festival since childhood, his influence helping to shape ever-progressing access facilities and, more recently, lending invaluable financial help to young musicians in the form of the newly established Christian Raphael Prize.

The short list for this year’s prize was drawn from artists playing at the Festival’s renowned emerging talent stage, The Den. Judges included Festival Manager Rebecca Stewart, Marketing Director David O’Hara, Vicki Raphael, The Den programmer Phil Pethybridge, Development Manager Tom Shallaker, Adrian Cooke from the Arts Council and music PR specialist, Richard Wootton. After watching each act, Christian and his mother Vicki also met and chatted with the nominated artists.

The winning act this year is Sheffield based contemporary duo, Kate Griffin and Ford Collier. Fusing folk genres from around the world, driving and intricate clawhammer banjo tunes and heartfelt, powerful songs thrown in the melting pot with solid, subtle Celtic guitar, dexterous Irish whistle and the spellbinding tabla drums of North India, won over this year’s judges.Marketing Director David O’Hara said: ‘We were really impressed with Kate’s musicianship; she’s a very talented banjo player – the instrument virtually an extension of her! She and Ford played well as a duo and their raw potential was clear to us all. It’s very exciting to be able to help realise that potential, which is what the Christian Raphael Prize is all about.’

Recipients receive a contribution of £100 each month for a year towards the travel and marketing costs of touring, as well as time in a rehearsal space or recording studio. They are also guaranteed a Showcase spot in the Club Tent – one of 5 artists that have been spotted ‘as ones to watch’ during the year – which potentially leads to a slot on prestigious Stage 2 the following year.

Vicki Raphael said: ‘Founding this emerging talent prize gives us great pleasure and a valued opportunity for Christian to be involved in a life long interest at a new and exciting level. We hope to continue building on our initiative in partnership with others over the coming years. But, firstly we look forward to hearing more of Kate Griffin and Ford Collier’s stunning music!

Delighted to have won this year’s Award, Kate said: ‘It was enough of a surprise when I found out Ford and I were playing at Cambridge- it’s a great festival and we’ve wanted to play there for a while. We never would have expected to win a prize on top of that! We’re still deciding whether to use the money for a professional rehearsal space or to go towards recording our first album early next year. It’s going to be a big help whichever way and we can’t wait to come back to Cambridge and play the Club Stage next year!

Be Sure To Get Your Tickets To Next Year’s Festival Here.

George Millington