Abbey’s on song to main­tain folk tra­di­tion

The Chronicle - - News - By HAN­NAH GRA­HAM han­nah.gra­ham@trin­i­tymir­ @Han­nahGra­ham21 Re­porter

SHE may only be 13 years old – but the tune­ful voice of Abbey Til­ley echoes with hun­dreds of years of Northum­ber­land his­tory.

Abbey, from Wark, near Hex­ham, wants to help keep tra­di­tional Northum­brian folk mu­sic alive with her per­for­mances.

She’s been learn­ing about the cen­turies-old lo­cal style for just over a year, ever since a fam­ily friend sug­gested she join forces with cel­e­brated Northum­brian small­pipes player Kathryn Tick­ell.

Her singing has gone from strength to strength, and ear­lier this month won three prizes at the an­nual Mor­peth Northum­brian Gath­er­ing, an ex­hi­bi­tion of the area’s mu­sic and arts.

Northum­brian folk mu­sic is seen as a dis­tinc­tive style, which shares el­e­ments of Scot­tish and Ir­ish folk mu­sic but has its own par­tic­u­lar re­gional qual­ity.

The Queen El­iz­a­beth High School pupil said she feels proud to be main­tain­ing a lo­cal tra­di­tion which has waned in pop­u­lar­ity over the years. Abbey said: “It’s just a dif­fer­ent style from ev­ery­thing else. It’s quite a unique type of mu­sic and not many peo­ple sing it.

“The songs are about this area and there aren’t many peo­ple here who still sing them any more, so I feel like I’m keep­ing that tra­di­tion go­ing.”

The un­usual style has at­tracted plenty of at­ten­tion for Abbey, who also en­joys mu­si­cal the­atre, lead­ing to con­cert per­for­mances and the chance to open the Belling­ham coun­try show.

She was even re­cruited by a film crew shoot­ing a new film about Cap­tain James Cook, ap­pear­ing as the fa­mous ex­plorer’s wife as a child, singing tra­di­tional folk songs in a pub.

Abbey said: “I’ve been re­ally busy since I started this new style of mu­sic. I’ve had so many op­por­tu­ni­ties be­cause it is unique.

“One of the things I re­ally en­joyed was be­ing asked to sing for peo­ple with de­men­tia at the Chrysalis char­ity in Hex­ham.

“That was re­ally fun be­cause you could see that peo­ple recog­nised the songs.”

Abbey Til­ley, 13, has spent the last year im­mers­ing her­self in tra­di­tional Northum­ber­land folk singing

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