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Tuesday, 6 February, 2001, 08:59 GMT
Folk heroine Waterson is a winner
Norma Waterson
Norma Waterson: "Probably finest English singer"
Norma Waterson, regarded as one of Britain's finest singers, was named folk singer of the year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Waterson is described by Mojo magazine as "probably the finest English singer alive today" and was presented with her prize by acclaimed playwright Willy Russell.

In 1996 Waterson's first solo album was narrowly beaten to the Mercury Music Prize by Pulp's Different Class.

Along with husband Martin Carthy and daughter Eliza the Waterson-Carthys are considered folk's first family for their output over the years.

Chris Smith
Chris Smith: Presented one of the prizes
The awards, hosted by Mike Harding, were established last year to raise the profile of folk music.

Radio 2 controller James Moir said: "This is a great night for folk music.

"The folk music scene is the centre of some of the most exciting and alive music to be heard today, both here in Britain and abroad.

"Radio 2 is proud to champion these great performers and great music giving them the national platform they deserve."

Singer and songerwriter Billy Bragg and former Smiths star Johnny Marr were guests at the ceremony, which took place in London.

Varied styles

Other winners included Scottish guitarist Bert Jansch who was given a lifetime achievement award and Taj Mahal who won the Radio 2 Roots award.

Taj Mahal's varied musical styles include Chicago blues and Memphis soul together with Cajun and Latin. His recording career began in the 60s with Rising Sons, a group he formed with Ry Cooder.

Culture Secretary Chris Smith presented the Horizon Award to rising star Bill (Belinda) Jones whose self-financed first album Turn To Me has been a folk best-seller.

The Davy Lamp in Washington, Tyne & Wear - a well-established venue on the scene - was voted folk club of the year by artists themselves.

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See also:

16 Sep 98 | Entertainment
Gomez go for gold at Mercury
12 Dec 00 | Education
Folk music degree launched
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