New album from Gwyneth Herbert

Gwyneth Herbert
Gwyneth Herbert

Singer-songwriter Gwyneth Herbert will be offering a glimpse into her new album when she headlines Blakefest 2017 on Sunday, September 17 at Newtown Sports & Social Club, 16A Greencourt Drive, North Bersted (tickets on blakefest.co.uk).

She has a new live/recording project on the way next year, Letters I Haven’t Written, which she’ll be playing songs from – alongside older numbers.

“This was born out of an idea I have been exploring about the lost art of letter-writing.

“Our modes of communication have changed so extraordinarily over the last ten years or so with the rise of social media and status updates and all those kinds of things.

“I am looking for a way of connecting which is a more meaningful communication. With writing letters, you are thinking more, there is more time, a bit of a time lapse rather than the instant broadcast which we have now in which there is also a performatory element to it.

“This is quite a big project. The idea is this first bunch of letters are letters I have written about things that I care very much about to people I care very much about.

“One of them is to the incredible Martin Read, who was my fantastic sixth-form music teacher. He taught me to hear the music in everything.

“He was also a great classical composer in his own right.

“He died five years ago unfortunately, but his legacy is incredible, the amount of people that went through his class and were inspired by his teaching.

“There is also a letter to Michael Gove, a letter I wrote a while ago which was talking about a very different legacy to the education system which was learning by rote.

“With Gove, it was fact over creativity. It was about encouraging children to see the obtaining of knowledge as the only way of learning.

“There is also a letter to a friend of mine who suffered from mental-health issues and was sectioned in hospital. He is a quite brilliant poet and a brilliant mind. He is doing incredibly well now…

“The whole thing adds up to us talking about things that really matter to us.”

Which isn’t to say that Gwyneth sees no merit at all in the more modern means of communication. She does. She learnt to.

“I didn’t see any virtues in it, but I was writing a song lambasting modern communication and I did a lot of research, digging deeper, going into the semiotics of the hashtag, and I realised there are some really great things that come out of the modern modes, the fact that they enable minority voices to have a voice in the mainstream.

“The only reservation I have, though, is that these voices can still become segregated.”

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