Hebcelt stage awaits Calmac Culture Music Winner Bella

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Yorkshire singer songwriter Bella Gaffney has won a prestigious stage slot in front of an international audience at the 21st Hebridean Celtic Festival this summer.

Bella, 22, from Bradford, was one of nine finalists in the CalMac Culture Music contest, run by ferry company Caledonian MacBrayne.

Each finalist performed two acoustic tracks to judges and a live audience at King Tut’s in Glasgow last night (Thursday) with a chance of securing a spot at one of nine Scottish festivals, including HebCelt.

She will now play at the award-winning festival, which will run from 13-16 July in Stornoway in the island of Lewis, and will be headlined by Runrig, Red Hot Chilli Pipers and Hayseed Dixie. Other acts already confirmed include Julie Fowlis, Astrid, King Creosote, John McCusker and Breabach.

This year’s main arena line-up also includes Bella and the Bear, 12 months after securing a slot on the Islands Stage as finalists in CalMac Culture Music 2015.

The CalMac Culture Music contest is aimed at finding the best amateur singers and musicians.

Entrants submitted a video of a performance of an original piece of music to YouTube and then encouraged fans to view and like the video.

Bella has been singing since the age of 15 and plays regularly at a variety of clubs, festivals, and private functions in Yorkshire and Nottingham where she studied.

She recently supported Cara Dillon at the Saltaire Live folk and Celtic music event in Bradford.

She secured her place at the CalMac Culture Music final after being a finalist in the Danny Kyle open stage competition at Celtic Connections.

She said: “It’s fantastic. Out of all the festivals, I had my eye on HebCelt. When I was in college Julie Fowlis’ Touch the Sky from (the Disney film) Brave was a firm favourite among me and my friends.

“I am delighted to have taken part in the CalMac Culture Music event and to have played at the prestigious King Tut’s in Glasgow. It was a real privilege and even more so to be selected for this year’s HebCelt.”

Caroline Maclennan, HebCelt’s director and a judge at the contest, said: “We are delighted to welcome Bella to the festival where I know she will be a hit with our audience. She has played at a number of festivals before, so we are looking forward to seeing her making her debut at HebCelt.

“Once again the standard of entries in this competition was extremely high and demonstrated the wealth of talent around. HebCelt is keen to encourage emerging musicians and give them a platform and this is an ideal way of providing support.”

CalMac Ferries is a long-time supporter of HebCelt and has confirmed it is to sponsor the event again later this year.

Peter Griffiths, Marketing Manager for CalMac, said: “We are pleased to continue our long-running support of HebCelt.

“The 2016 line-up looks particularly exciting for the festival’s 21st birthday and we are proud to have played our part over the years. I have no doubt it will be another great event.”

Pictured is Bella Gaffney pictured with HebCelt Director Caroline Maclennan.