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Award-winners, newcomers and the old favourites at Cambridge Folk Festival

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Kaia Kater, picture: Reto Sterchi
Kaia Kater, picture: Reto Sterchi

This year's Cambridge Folk Festival is shaping up to be another unmissable feast of music.

Peggy Seeger, Kaia Kater, Birds of Chicago, Amythyst Kiah and Yola Carter have joined this year’s bill.

The eclectic collection of talent from both sides of the Atlantic has been invited to perform by guest curator, Rhiannon Giddens.

The highly-acclaimed Grammy-winning Americana pioneer remembers being “immediately interested” when asked to take on the role.

“I didn’t really know what curating was at the time, but I loved the festival so much I thought anything that would have me coming back is a really good thing. Then I found out I’d get to be there the whole time – I never get to do that,” she beamed. “I wanted to experience the whole thing, it’s irresistible.”

American folk singer Seeger needs no introduction. From her solo albums, recording and touring with her family including her late half-brother Pete Seeger, to writing songs with her late husband Ewan MacColl, Peggy is arguably the most powerful woman in folk.

The legendary artist, who has lived in the UK for more than 30 years, will be performing works from across her 60-year career at the festival, which this year runs from Thursday, August 2 to Sunday, August 5.

Homegrown Americana singer-songwriter and force of nature, Yola Carter brings together her diverse influences of 1960s country, soul and gospel.

After 15 years as a writer, producer and featured vocalist with dance and pop artists such as Massive Attack, Duke Dumont, Katy Perry and Chase & Status, Yola embarked on the latest chapter of her career as a solo Americana artist at the start of 2016, rapidly attracting critical acclaim.

One of the youngest performers in the Canadian old-time and folk communities, 22-year-old Kaia Kater is proving that banjos are not just for hillbillies. She plays the banjo, dances, sings and has her own unique take on Appalachian and Canadian folk music.

Kaia is a diverse traditionalist, having quickly gained attention as one of the most promising young performers in the North American folk world.

Born in Quebec of mixed Afro-Caribbean ancestry, her music combines beautifully subtle old-time banjo with soft sensibilities, mixing elements of both Canadian and American historical traditions with a decidedly modern sound.

Kaia recorded Sorrow Bound, her debut full-length album, with producer, mentor, and fellow musician Chris Bartos over an intense five-day stretch. Her second album manages to triangulate bluegrass, Nina Simone and Toni Morrison.

Since teaming up as Birds of Chicago in 2012, Allison Russell and JT Nero have developed a fervent following thanks to their dedicated touring schedule. Performing around 200 nights a year with their “near-perfect Americana”, they tap into a world of Americana, roots, and rock ‘n’ roll poetry sure to be a hit this summer.

Amythyst Kiah is described as a ‘southern gothic’ alt-country blues singer/songwriter from Tennessee, whose stage presence and powerful vocals echo her eclectic influences spanning decades.

Drawing heavily on old time music – Mississippi Sheiks, Son House, Jimmie Rodgers, Ola Belle Reed, Carter Family – and inspired by strong R&B and country music vocalists from the 1950s-1970s (Big Mama Thornton, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Mahalia Jackson, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn) and influenced by contemporary artists with powerful vocal integrity (Adele, Florence and the Machine), Amythyst Kiah is not to be missed.

Beautifully talented First Aid Kit are Friday’s headliner, Saturday’s headliner is the iconic Patti Smith and her band and Sunday night’s headliner is the legendary John Prine who wraps up what is set to be an unforgettable weekend.

Tickets on sale at cambridgefolkfestival.co.uk.

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