Posts Tagged ‘bbc’

Celebrating the life of Charlie Gillett

Posted on March 17th, 2015 in News, Recent posts by .


Photography by Jeremy Llewellyn-Jones

Five years ago today, radio presenter and author Charlie Gillett passed away following a long illness. In the June 2010 edition (#68) we celebrated the life of ‘Mr World Music’, with contributions from colleagues and musicians. We also included a selection of five of Charlie’s favourite tracks that were included on the free covermount CD. You can stream this playlist at the bottom of the page.

Purchase the edition here in order to read the full article.

It might be an exaggeration to describe the death of Charlie Gillett as world music’s ‘Princess Diana moment.’ But the overwhelming combination of sadness, warmth and affection that greeted the news in March 2010 of his demise at the age of 68 suggests not by much.

The simple facts of his career hardly begin to tell the story. His book, The Sound of the City (1970), was one of the earliest attempts at a serious survey of rock’n’roll history. His ‘Honky Tonk’ show on BBC Radio London in the 70s gave first airplay to such unsigned acts as Dire Straits and Elvis Costello. He managed Ian Dury for a time and ran his own label, Oval Records.

As he became increasingly disillusioned with mainstream rock in the 80s, he rediscovered the excitement that had first fuelled his youthful love of rock’n’roll in world music. Via his various radio shows he introduced us to Youssou N’Dour, Salif Keita, Mariza and hundreds of others. In the years before his death, his reach became global via the internet and his work for the BBC World Service.

Songlines asked some of those who worked with him and knew him best to share their memories of the man Mariza simply describes as “Mr World Music.”

Words by Nigel Williamson

Ivan Duran
Stonetree Records, Belize
“Charlie had been coming to Belize around Christmas for several years and he picked up a couple of our CDs. I got an email from him saying he was playing our music on the radio and the following year we met at WOMEX. It was like we had always known each other; I’m sure a lot of artists and producers felt the same way around him. He encouraged me at every opportunity and on his last trip to Belize in 2004, walking on the beach, I asked him what he thought of the Andy Palacio tracks I’d sent him. “I wasn’t impressed,” he said, and started talking about something else. I was devastated and spent another year on the arrangements. Those tracks became Wátina [reviewed in #43], and Charlie was one of the album’s biggest supporters. The album won awards and it was that moment walking on the beach that changed everything. Today I’m a better music producer because of him and he’ll always be with me when I’m in the studio.”

Fado singer
“One cannot explain friendship but I feel I’ve lost a very special friend. I think we all did – even those who didn’t know him. Meeting Charlie was one of the great privileges life has given me. ‘Mr World Music,’ I like to call him! The world of music is poorer and I feel poorer. Thank you for everything you offered us without asking for anything in return. Thank you for your friendship. It will never be forgotten. A big kiss to you Charlie Gillett.”


Joe Boyd
Producer & writer
“There’s never been a career in the music business like Charlie Gillett’s. I first encountered him as a music publisher with a small record label in the 70s. He was clever and charming as an entrepreneur and brought those qualities to the radio. His endless curiosity introduced me to so many now revered recordings and artists, that I forgave him his dislike of English folk music. Many of us imagine releasing CDs of our favourite tracks; Charlie did it every year. His output was monumental; how do you do that and never make any enemies? Adoring Charlie went without saying. Now it’s time to say it. We will all miss him terribly.”

Bassekou Kouyaté
Malian ngoni player
“I played on his radio show and I felt he loved me like a brother. The day I won the BBC Radio 3 award for world music, I went on his show and he said, ‘You deserve this! You’ve worked hard!’ He was so happy, he was crying, so I had to hug him to calm him down. I feel I’ve lost a brother.”


Alan Finkel
Radio colleague
“To be part of his radio programmes was a joy. It was impossible not to be affected by his honesty, integrity, sense of humour, spontaneity, intelligence, kindness, wisdom, warmth and humility. For two hours on Saturday night on BBC Radio London, Charlie would set the barrier impossibly high. Often there were two live sets. It felt like Charlie’s party but the listeners felt part of it too. Despite having a clear sense of what he liked to play, Charlie would allow his guests to choose their own tracks with no prior discussion. I couldn’t imagine another DJ giving up so much precious airtime. Sometimes he’d wince at their choices but at other times an unexpected listening treat would send him diving into his box to find something appropriate to follow. Nothing was predictable. Often he’d change his choice of record 20 seconds before the previously track ended. I’d desperately try to keep up, so everything could be logged. A truly wonderful broadcaster, completely at ease with live radio.”

Yasmin Levy
Israeli Sephardic singer
“Imagine an old town. In the centre of it, an open market, filled with people, stalls of fruit and vegetables, spices, fish… just another day. Suddenly, a bell rings out and everyone stops, looking for the sound. Along comes a young man, riding his bicycle, trailing a carriage behind it. He shouts: ‘All aboard, all aboard, you’re all welcome to join me on a magical journey!’
I came from Jerusalem as a scared, young woman with a dream. It was a big day for me. I was invited to a programme on the BBC with Charlie Gillett. I remember singing into the microphone. Charlie sat there with his eyes closed, listening to me sing and I waited, looking for his response as I held my breath in hope. Since that day, Charlie accompanied me throughout my career. He was one of the first who believed in me, and he introduced my music to the world. On that day in the market, many people came aboard and joined that young man’s journey. He introduced them to all kinds of music, asking them to open their hearts and listen. “What’s your name, young man?” asked one of them. “I’m Charlie Gillett,” he replied. “Welcome aboard.”


Youssou N’Dour
Senegalese singer
“Charlie was the first to play my music on English radio and two days before he died I was thinking about him and wondering what he would make of my new album. I so wanted him to hear it. Then I woke up to the bad news and sadly realised he never would.”

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BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2013 Nominees Announced

Posted on November 24th, 2012 in News, Recent posts by .

Voting is now open for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2013 after the nominees were announced earlier this week. 

This year’s event will be taking place for the first time in Glasgow, at The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on January 30 2013, as part of the Celtic Connections festival. Fiddler Duncan Chisholm (whose album Affric was one of Songlines Best Albums of 2012), Mercury Music Prize nominated Sam Lee and trio Lau have all received two nominations each.

The full list of nominees are…


Nic Jones
Sam Lee
Jim Moray
Karine Polwart

BEST ALBUM [Public vote with five nominees]*
Broadside – Bellowhead
Ground of Its Own – Sam Lee
Race the Loser – Lau
Skulk – Jim Moray
Traces – Karine Polwart 

Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts
Hannah James & Sam Sweeney
O’Hooley & Tidow
Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman

Treacherous Orchestra
The Unthanks

Blair Dunlop
Luke Jackson
Maz O’Connor

Ross Ainslie
Duncan Chisholm
Sam Sweeney
Kathryn Tickell

Luke Jackson
Graham Mackenzie & Ciorstaidh Beaton
Grey Russell & Ciaran Algar

‘Lord Douglas’ – Jim Moray
‘Tha Sneachd‘ air Druim Uachdair’ – Kathleen MacInnes
‘Unknown Air’ – Duncan Chisholm
‘Wild Wood Amber’ – Sam Lee

‘Hatchlings’ – Emily Portman
‘King of Birds’ – Karine Polwart
‘Tailor’ – Anaïs Mitchell
‘The Ballad of Andy Jacobs’ – Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman 

*Voting closes at 7pm on November 30 2012

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BBC 6Music crowned UK station of the year

Posted on May 16th, 2012 in News, Recent posts by .

If one were to document the trials and tribulations of the radio industry into a carefully crafted fairy tale,  BBC 6Music would star in the leading role. Frequently characterised as the digital underdog of the BBC radio family; a fledging younger sibling to the manic wake up call of Moyles or the dulcet tones of Wogan, the station has finally made its mark.

On Monday evening the annual Sony Radio Academy Awards took place at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel, with 6Music triumphantly claiming the event’s most prestigious award – UK Station of the year. Few could have predicted such success two years ago when the BBC decided to discard the station when it was viewed as excess to requirements in a period of necessary cost cutting. With outrage rife, musicians, politicians and the public issued support for BBC Radio’s youngest son and thankfully kept its eclectic and vast array of musical styles and programming on the airwaves – a breath of fresh air.

Perhaps the most defining conclusion to take away from the events of Monday evening is the fact 6Music is the first digital station to ever receive the award. Indeed the availability of digital radio is more accessible than ever before, even in 2010 when the station was on the verge of closure.

Yet the triumph of 6Music is not simply via a path of natural technological progression. The station has earned its listeners with consistent, enjoyable programming that varies even during daytime hours. Where more established radio networks hide those who do not fit the mould of an unremitting, bi-hourly daytime loop away in the 1am slot for those fortunate (or equally unfortunate) enough to be awake – 6Music confidently bounces between beats and poetry with Cerys Matthews on a Sunday morning, Giles Peterson’s groove on a Saturday and Steve Lamacq’s showcasing of unsigned artists on weekday afternoons. To name but a few. Each DJ demonstrates both a passion for the music they play and a respect for those who will listen.

On winning, Songlines columnist and 6Music presenter Cerys Matthews commented on the station’s success: “We would like to say thanks to all those listeners who saved the station in the first place and the listeners who keep supporting those of us with eclectic and varied programmes.”

There is much to be taken from the night, not least the recognition of a station whose sole purpose relies entertaining its audience with music from all corners of the globe. Cerys concluded her sentiments perfectly: “Please keep being vocal to the BBC – it is ours after all.”

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John Peel’s Record Collection as an Online Archive

Posted on May 9th, 2012 in News, Recent posts by .

Ever wondered what musical gems you could find if you were allowed to root through John Peel’s impressive record collection? Wonder no more – the online museum project The Space has turned the late radio DJ’s collection into an online archive that allows you to browse his catalogue aurally and visually.

John Peel, famed for uncovering new music during his nearly 40 years as a radio DJ, died in 2004 at the age of 65. His widow, Sheila Ravenscroft told the BBC, ‘We’re very happy that we’ve finally found a way to make John’s amazing collection available to his fans, as he would have wanted.’ 

The online archive will due to include roughly 25,000 of his vinyl LPs. Peel’s catalogue also feature singles and CDs, though The Space project will focus on the vinyl first.

The project has currently secured funding in order to upload 100 records a week between May and October 2012, though there is talk of the long-term with the hope to eventually upload Peel’s collection in its entirety.

The archive has already included cover art and some audio samples of records catalogued under the letter A, and the Bs were uploaded yesterday. 

Visit the online archive here:


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