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BBC Four launches month-long celebration of the singer-songwriter


BBC Four today announces an exciting month-long celebration of the singer-songwriter, led by a new series of specially commissioned concerts titled Songwriters’ Circle.

The celebration, which starts on Friday 1 October, presents an insightful and varied array of programming and features some of the world’s best pop and rock singer-songwriters, including Richard Thompson, Suzanne Vega, Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely, Chris Difford, Elton John and Cat Stevens amongst many others.

The channel celebration also includes, Singer-Songwriters At The BBC, alongside classic BBC In Concert shows and recent concert acquisitions such as James Taylor & Carole King at The Troubadour.

Richard Klein, Controller, BBC Four, says: “BBC Four is the home of contemporary music and to have some of the best singer-songwriters playing for us in specially created concerts is a real delight.”

In the new series, Songwriters’ Circle, the singer-songwriters perform their classic songs in turn, while helping each other out musically with harmonies and the odd guitar part. The four shows are filmed live in a small London concert venue, with the artists only meeting an hour or two before going onstage. In between performances, the artists take the viewer inside their work, chatting about their songs, their history and background.

Richard Thompson, Suzanne Vega and Loudon Wainwright kick off the series, swapping songs at West London’s Bush Hall, including signature tunes like Thompson’s “Vincent Black Lightning”, Vega’s “Luka” and Wainwright’s “The Swimming Song”.

Thompson helps out with acoustic guitar fills throughout and Wainwright and Vega duet on a ’countrified’ song on the impact of the recession on failing marriages and couples who can’t afford to divorce, in “House”.

Future Songwriters’ Circle shows in the new series feature Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt and Joe Ely, as well as Chris Difford, Justin Currie and Boo Hewerdine.

Singer-Songwriters At the BBC will transmit alongside Songwriters’ Circle on Friday evenings throughout the month. The four hour-long episodes explore a rich vein of BBC archive singer-songwriter performances, across shows like The Old Grey Whistle Test, Top Of The Pops, In Concert and guest appearances on shows hosted by the likes of Twiggy and Shirley Bassey.

Artists featured include Elton John, Neil Diamond, James Taylor, Carole King, Cat Stevens and Billy Joel, alongside lesser-known but brilliant cult artists from the US – Tim Hardin, Judee Sill, Harry Nilsson and Jesse Winchester amongst many – and from the UK – Roy Harper, Al Stewart, Michael Chapman and Bridget St. John.

BBC Four will accompany these two series by airing classic In Concert performances from the early Seventies, featuring James Taylor, Carole King, Neil Young, and Cat Stevens and recent concerts by the likes of James Taylor, Carole King and Leonard Cohen.

Mark Cooper, Creative Head, BBC Music Entertainment, says: "The singer-songwriter genre really took off at the dawn of the Seventies, as a new breed of confessional singer-songwriters emerged with a gift for translating their own individual experience into poetic songs that touched their own generation and have endured remarkably well.

“In classic Broadway and Tin Pan Alley writing, the aim was to write popular songs that might be true to personal feeling but whose job was to touch a nation and whose emotion was controlled by form. The singer-songwriters of the early Seventies were more concerned with doing justice to what they felt personally, their own truth was what motivated them. Perversely, the truer they were to their own experience and impressions, the more universal their songs often became. Think of ”Fire & Rain“ or ”After The Goldrush".


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