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'It's been a memorable year' It's been a busy few months for Gwawr Edwards, from the birth of her first baby to a tour of America and the release of her album. Karen Price catches up with the busy soprano.

BECOMING a mum for the first time is certainly a life-changing experience, so it comes as little surprise that soprano Gwawr Edwards wanted to sing about it. Just months after giving birth to a baby daughter, she has released her second album, Alleluia, which contains her self-penned Welsh-language track Nel, a celebration of her little girl.

"It's been a very memorable year and an unbelievably busy one, therefore I would like to dedicate this album to my husband Dan and my little girl Nel," says Gwawr, who collaborated with a host of other musicians and singers on the album, including Only Men Aloud, the group which her husband once sang with.

"Nel was born in March this year, so I decided to compose a song for her on this album."

Alleluia is released by Sain and contains 11 songs, including popular numbers like Moon River and O Mio Babbino Caro, as well as a number of Welsh hymns and a Novello medley.

"After nearly six years since my debut album on Sain, I'm really excited to see the release of Alleluia."

Gwawr was born into a farming family in Ceredigion and culturally was nurtured in the rich Eisteddfod tradition, giving her a solid foundation for her future music career.

Music is truly in the Edwards family blood - as well as being a dedicated farmer, her father was also a busy and popular concert tenor, while her sister Menna is an accomplished accompanist who contributed to the new recording, accompanying Gwawr on the piano.

From a very young age, Gwawr was thrown into the performing world and at the age of 11 she took part in her first concert tour of America with her father and sister. In fact, Gwawr recently returned to the States, with baby Nel in tow, to sing in the North American Festival of Wales in Columbus, Ohio.

This was no ordinary invitation; it had huge personal significance for Gwawr. At the beginning of the 19th century almost every member of the Edwards family emigrated to Ohio. The trip therefore provided an opportunity for Gwawr to follow in her ancestors' footsteps and introduce Nel to the Ohio clan - and it was even documented for a TV programme.

"Our time in Ohio was the best trip of my life," says Gwawr. "I had visited members of the family in Ohio before, but not for 10 years. At that time the visit didn't have the same impact, but this time, as I'm now a wife and mother, the whole thing was more emotional and much more meaningful. Taking Nel out to meet the relatives was a very special experience."

Gwawr began her studies at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff and in 2010, she was a finalist in BBC Radio 2's Dame Kiri Te Kanawa Prize - a search for an opera star of the future. She has also won a host of major awards and competitions in Wales, including the Violet Mary Davies Award for most promising soprano at the National Eisteddfod of Wales.

Now as she looks forward to the next stage of her career, she's embracing a new chapter in her life too.

Alleluia will be officially launched at the Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay on October 29 at 7pm. Gwawr Edwards yn Ohio is on S4C on October 31 at 9pm


Soprano Gwawr Edwards and, below, with baby Nel

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 24, 2015
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