Harpist and songwriter Georgia Ruth, whose debut record, Week of Pines, won the Welsh Music Prize last year, will perform today at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. In an email interview, she explains why Asha Bhosle is a childhood favourite and why Bengali boat songs fascinate her
Music aficionados can look forward to a soothing evening, courtesy Welsh harpist, singer and songwriter Georgia Ruth, who will be performing in the city, today. Acclaimed as one of UK’s most promising Folk musicians, the 24-year-old released her debut album, Week of Pines, in May 2013.
Harpist Georgia Ruth
Hailing from Aberystwyth, Ceredigion County in Wales, Ruth’s album included English and Welsh songs. Today’s concert is being organised by the British Council as part of its ongoing programme, Folk Nations (which works with Folk musicians across India and the UK). Excerpts from an interview:
What drew you to the harp?
I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. In Wales, the harp is a common national instrument; it’s part of our folk heritage. So, I started learning when I was seven years old, like many children. At first, I remember thinking that it was a difficult instrument to master, but nearly 20 years later I think I’ve started to understand it!
What are your compositions influenced by?
I’ve always loved songwriters like Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan. The emphasis on lyrics and on words is important to me. But I also love traditional Welsh Folk music, which has its own particular melancholy and poetry.
What’s on the cards for today’s performance?
I’ll be performing with my band (consisting of Aled, Dafydd and Iwan Hughes) and the wonderfully talented sarangi player Suhail Yusuf Khan, whom I first met in Kolkata last year. We’ll mostly be performing songs from Week of Pines. But we’ll also be experimenting on new pieces with Suhail. My music is “a little bit of old, a little bit of new”. The old being the folk traditions of Wales and the UK, the new being the rest.
Have you listened to Indian music before? What are your favourites?
When I was young, my mother bought me a CD of songs by Asha Bhosle. The second I heard her voice, I fell in love. I loved the frenzy and excitement of those old Bollywood songs, and Asha’s voice was so charming. More recently, I’ve become very fond of Ghazal music (having worked with Tauseef Akhtar), and of the way it places such an importance on poetry and lyrics.
I spent time in Kolkata last February for the British Council’s Folk Nations Residency. It brought musicians from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the UK together to explore each other’s native folk traditions and styles. From Ghazals, to Bengali boat songs, to Scottish fiddle tunes, I learned so much.
On Today, 9.10 pm
At Cross Maidan, Kala Ghoda.