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Singing in Cornish - a celebration
Having seen Gwenno in concert at the weekend, my column in this week's Cornish Guardian celebrates those who sing in the Cornish language.
There are many truly wonderful aspects to Cornwall’s identity and culture, and I consider the most important factor in our distinctiveness to be the Cornish language.

This is because, to me, the continued existence of our own Celtic language, emphasises that we have a national identity, rather than simply a regional or county character.

For many decades, there have been a large number of people who have worked so incredibly hard to promote and celebrate Cornish, and it is right that we pay a heartfelt tribute to them all.

If we look back to the 1970s, at the forefront of the promotion of the language – through song – there was the much-loved and internationally respected folk singer Brenda Wootton.

She performed and recorded many Cornish language songs which included the 1973 LP Crowdy Crawn, produced in partnership with Richard Gendall. Richard, who passed away in September at the age of 92, wrote over 450 songs for Brenda, of which about a third were in Cornish.

The Davey family meanwhile formed a group called Bucca and released an LP in 1980 titled “An Tol an Pedn an Telynor” (The Hole in the Harper's Head), which included Cornish songs and was distributed in 13 countries across the world.

As a consequence of the foresight of Richard, Brenda, Bucca and many others, the Cornish language is now a natural and an increasingly prominent part of modern life in the Duchy.

At last year’s spectacle surrounding the “Man Engine,” which was a positive, inclusive and unashamed celebration of Cornwall, the language was ever-present, showing it to be a vital and living part of our present and future.

Like Brenda Wootton, many modern-day performers, with well-deserved high profiles, have regularly sung and recorded in Cornish.

These include the traditional music specialists Dalla and The Changing Room, who saw their video for a track off their latest album, “Gwrello Glaw” (Let It Rain), viewed by over 500,000 people online.

And this weekend, I was privileged to be able to attend a joyous concert at Falmouth’s The Poly by well-known Welsh singer Gwenno and her support act, Hanterhir, who both sang in Cornish and were both fantastic.

Gwenno was brought up in Cardiff speaking both Welsh and Cornish – her father is a Cornish poet – and it was indeed inspiring to see her showcase her new album (due out in March). It is entirely in Cornish and is already receiving significant coverage throughout the music world, positively promoting Cornwall’s national language to a much wider audience.

There is so much to be positive about and I would heartily recommend the music of Gwenno and groups such as The Changing Room, Dalla and Hanterhir, who really appreciate the importance of Cornish. Why not check them out?
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By Dick Cole. Published on 5th December 2017.

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