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Every Welsh American should own a copy of this book!   BUY IT HERE


David Lloyd chronicles the trials and tribulations, the triumphs and despairs of several generations of Welsh Americans in this series of interlinked stories. These tales combine pathos, humour, drama and insightful observation in an anthology which is at once masterful, entertaining and illuminating. Set in Utica, New York in the 1960's the book opens with a tragic tale from the Vietnam war.

In 'Nos Da' Private Richard Bowen is severely wounded after stepping on a land mine. He rambles, seemingly incoherently, as he recalls the details of his past life. In particular he remembers wishing his father goodnight in the happier days of his childhood. His comrades have no idea what 'nos da' means and assume that he is delirious. As the 'medevac' chopper arrives his friend, Denny, says:-

God-damn here at last! No more talking crazy bullshit. You are going home, Richie boy. Back to your cars and your f****** mother and father and girlfriend you maybe have and those baths you love and the sun on the dark side of the moon. Back to the towel. Nose-f******-da, you crazy f***. You’re going home.

This is a poignant tale but it is perhaps difficult to suppress a trace of anger at the prospect of another son of Wales dying in a distant land for a cause not entirely his own, whilst those around him know nothing of his culture, heritage and language.

But this cultural anonymity does, perhaps, have its 'advantages'. In 'Eeeeee', the protagonist, a Welsh American named Ben, is offered employment as a local mafia fixer/hitman. A role in which he does not acquit himself particularly well. His employer, Sal, explains why he was picked for the job:-

"If you do good, there’s more of this work for you. Maybe someday that piece’ll be yours for real because I’ve had my fill of goombas f****** up and expecting a pass because they married my second cousin Mona, you know? You heard about that one, right?”

The Welsh, both at home and abroad have always prided themselves on their ingenuity and adaptability. This is reflected here in the story 'Home'. Griff, the caretaker at a local school is found to have converted a portion of the storage area for which he is responsible, into an apartment complete with fridge, TV and all modern conveniences. After his wife's death he moves in. In the course of debating what to do about this situation, the head custodian opines:-

“Griff’s not creepy. He’s messed up. I’m the same. A messed-up old guy. If I hadn’t stopped drinking, I’d be a dead old guy. I retire in two years. Maybe I’ll leave the Algonquin and move in with Griff. Be cheaper too. Think he can make bunk beds?

There is much humor in this collection. The comical dialogue in 'Monkey's Uncle' is a case in point. In this tale a nephew (Nye) meets his uncle (Llew) in the pub. The one has recently been released from a mental institution and the other is a notorious drunk. Their communication in the bar and afterwards as they wend their way through the streets of New York is hilarious. Upon arriving at Ny'e mother's house (Ceridwen) after their drunken sojourn they are greeted as follows:-

“It’s me,” Nye told her, “and no one else.”
“And no one else,” Llew echoed.
“A pair of no ones you are, aren’t you?” Ceridwen said. “My son and my uncle. My ball and my chain.”

In a collection which contains so many gems it is difficult to single out individual stories for critical attention. Also, of course we want to avoid too many spoilers. At this point, however, we should mention that one of these tales was submitted to the 2015 West Coast Eisteddfod Short Story Competition. It won and, for those who like to sample before buying, it can be read here:- Dreaming of Home

The title story delves into the loneliness suffered by a Welsh American widow whose life revolves around her back yard, and those of her neighbors. In this reviewer's opinion it is a minor masterpiece. As the lonely Mrs Bevan awaits a spiritual 'moving of the water' she is preoccupied by a neighbor's pond which annoys her by providing a home for insects, fish and birds. She fears filth and contamination and presses her neighbor to fill it in. Whilst the pettiness and prejudice on display here are humorous this tale is no slapstick offering. Indeed , David Lloyd reveals his character with a subtlety and empathy worthy of the 'greats' ( think Mansfield, Fitzgerald etc )

Of course, all these stories of adversity, loneliness and adaptive ingenuity could be set in any immigrant community. That it reflects universal concerns is one of the strengths of this collection, but the fact that it does so through the prism of Welsh American experience is what makes it unique.

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to review this book and I hope that you, dear reader, will enjoy it every bit as much.

Review by Ceri Shaw



THE BOOK



Anchored in the community of first, second, and third generation Welsh Americans in Utica , New York during the 1960's the stories in David Lloyd's The Moving of the Water delve into universal concerns: identity, home, religion, language, culture, belonging, personal and national histories, mortality. Unflinching in their portrayal of the traumas and conflicts of fictional Welsh Americans, these stories also embrace multiple communities and diverse experiences in linked innovative narratives: soldiers fighting in WW1 and in Vietnam, the criminal underworld, the poignant struggles of children and adults caught between old and new worlds. The complexly damaged characters of these surprising and effective stories seek transformation and revelation, healing and regeneration: a sometimes traumatic "moving of the water".

The front cover features a detail from a painting by acclaimed Welsh artist Iwan Bala titled "Cof, Bro, Mebyd [Memory, Community, Childhood]



THE AUTHOR



David Lloyd is Professor of English and Director of the Creative Writing Program at LeMoyne College. His previous books include the novel 'Over the Line', the short story collection 'Boys: Stories and a Novella', and the poetry collections 'Warriors', "The Gospel According to Frank' and 'The Everyday Apocalypse'. He lives in upstate New York.

David Lloyd on a road near Corris, where his father was born. ( Reproduced courtesy of Kim Waale)



COMPETITION



We are pleased to announce that author David Lloyd has presented us with a signed copy of 'The Moving of the Water' for a giveaway competition. Just email your answer to the following three questions (all easy, wiki links provided) to americymru@gmail.com . The winner will be announced on March 1st. The competition is open for entrants worldwide and is not restricted to the USA.

Questions: Famous Welsh Americans

1.  American pioneer Daniel Boone (of Welsh ancestry) was born in which year?

2. In which year did Meriwether Lewis (of Welsh descent) set out on the Lewis & Clark Expedition?

3. In which American state was architect Frank Lloyd Wright (of Welsh descent) born?

Pob lwc :)





AmeriCymru: Hi Gwyndaf and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. What can you tell us about your forthcoming album 'Songs My Mother Taught Me'?

Gwyndaf: This new album that I have just recorded has been something I have wanted to do for a few years now. I wanted to record works from people that i enjoyed listening to as I grew into who I am today.

AmeriCymru: When did you first realise that you had been gifted with an extraordinary voice? At what point did you decide to become a singer?

Gwyndaf: I was very fortunate to have been born into a wonderfully diverse musical family. My mother was an operatic contralto who opened my ears and soul to the wonderful world of Italian opera. It was perfect for me... I love drama on the stage but not in my real life. It is fantastic for me to suffer and battle and even die on stage and then go home to my fantastically normal life with my beautiful wife and daughter.

My father introduced me to Jazz and sacred music. He also brought amazing words of the Welsh Greats. This absolutely helped realize that words matter so much. Even to shape the phrasing in a musical score.

My grandparents brought the wonderful music of the 1920s to the 50s to my life.

Friends that showed me that we are all so different emotionally. We choose music for different reasons and why it touches our heart. Mostly from our culture, belief system and upbringing and life experiences. Especially suffering and love.

My wife and daughter are two of the greatest reasons why I continue to sing professionally. It is a hard life. Without a family it is also very lonely. From the day I met and began living with the love of my life, my professional life has been made much easier. Her support is shockingly strong. We created a beautiful child from our love. She will also be an artist. She oozes that wonderful artistry that is so wonderful to witness.

To answer your question of when i realized i had a gift of an extraordinary voice... Well I do not see or hear it. As a Welsh artist we are very critical of our voices and every step of the entire process.

Thank God that some people think I have a gift that is good enough to make a living. My wife is the greatest driving force in slowly lifting that insecurity from me. Maybe one day I will hear what others hear in me.

AmeriCymru: How would you describe your current repertoire?

Gwyndaf: My current repertoire is exactly what I love to do. A bit of everything that I like to think that I can do well, which is to sing and connect with an audience.

It is so wonderful to enjoy myself on a stage or a studio and have a person of any age come up to me and say that I had really touched them that evening.

Mainly older women. I love to sing songs from their youth. Somehow I understand that time better than today's.

AmeriCymru:  What is your proudest achievement or moment? Is there any one performance, tour or album in your career that stands out for you?

Gwyndaf:  My proudest achievement career wise will always be when my father got to see and hear me perform the lead in Il Trovatore before he died. I played along side my teacher from the age of 8 years old. He was so proud. I felt it was and still is the greatest performance of my life. It was a magical night. I will carry it in my heart forever.

My greatest recording is this one that I have just finished called Songs My Mother Taught Me. We can all relate to that term. Mothers have always taught us songs. It is my tribute to great composers, singers, musicians and all the lovely people who have shared their music with me over the past 49 years.

I hope to have it manufactured and on the market in the new year.

AmeriCymru:  Where can people go online to hear/buy your music?

Gwyndaf:  My website can be found at welshtenor.ca.

AmeriCymru: Any final message for the readers and members of AmeriCymru?

Gwyndaf:  I hope that all the Welsh people world wide realize, cherish and share their God given gifts with anyone who is willing to listen. I know that it builds and creates wonderful artistry in so many people.

I can only say thank you to everyone that have shared their gifts with me. It helped make me the man and artist that I am today.

Singing is healthy. It connects all of us. No matter what language. Mind you Welsh is by far the best.

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WE HAVE A WINNER!!



And the winner is..... Dave Klein. Dave will be informed via email and his tickets will be available at 'will call' on the night. For those who entered but did not win, don't despair!! You can take advantage of DCINY's extremely generous 20% discount offer for AmeriCymru readers. The code is DCG30382 and it can be used online, over the phone, or in person at Carnegie Hall. Don't miss this prestigious annual event BOOK NOW!



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"Sir Karl Jenkins is the most performed living composer in the world."



We are extremely pleased and proud to announce that Distinguished Concerts International have made available a pair of tickets for the forthcoming Karl Jenkins concert in New York at the Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage, Carnegie Hall on Monday, January 21st, 2019. The program includes Sir Karl Jenkins’s Symphonic Adiemus as well as Jenkins’s Stabat Mater. Read our (2010) interview with Karl Jenkins here

We are offering these tickets as a QUIZ PRIZE on Americymru!

Just answer the three easy quiz questions below ( answers can all be found on Wikipedia ) and send them to us at americymru@gmail.com ( all email addresses will be deleted when the competition closes ). We'll throw all the entries in a hat and pick the winner! Please email us by Monday, January 14th, 2019 no later than 9 PM ( Pacific Time ). Tickets will be ready at will call on 1/21 at the Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, Carnegie Hall; the winner will just need to bring a photo ID.

Only one entry per email address is permitted. Duplicates will be disqualified. You do not need to be an AmeriCymru member or logged into the site in order to enter this competition.

If you don't win the competition, please do not despair. DCINY is very kindly offering a 30% discount code for AmeriCymru readers. The code is DCG30382 and it can be used online, over the phone, or in person at Carnegie Hall

Karl Jenkins Quiz



  1. Which famous jazz-rock fusion band was Karl Jenkins a member of in the 70's?
  2. Which of Jenkins' works was listed as No. 1 in Classic FM's "Top 10 by living composers"?
  3. Where was Karl Jenkins born?



The Music of Sir Karl Jenkins: A 75th Birthday Celebration



Monday, January 21, 2019 at 7:00 PM
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, Carnegie Hall

DCINY presents the US premiere of Welsh composer and DCINY’s composer-in-residence Sir Karl Jenkins’s Symphonic Adiemus as well as Jenkins’s Stabat Mater. Maestro Jonathan Griffithleads the Distinguished Concerts Orchestra and Distinguished Concerts Singers International in a celebration of Sir Karl Jenkins’s 75th birthday.

Performers

Jonathan Griffith, Conductor
Baidar Al Basri, Ethnic Soloist
Distinguished Concerts Orchestra and Distinguished Concerts Singers International

Program

All-Sir Karl Jenkins Program
Symphonic Adiemus (US Premiere)
Stabat Mater

Tickets $20-$100!
On Sale Now!

Visit CarnegieHall.org or call 212-247-7800

Box Office: 57th Street and Seventh Avenue

Ticket Link: https://www.carnegiehall.org/calendar/2019/01/21/the-music-of-sir-karl-jenkins-0700pm


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karljenkinsconcert.jpg

The Music of Sir Karl Jenkins: A 75th Birthday Celebration



Monday, January 21, 2019 at 7:00 PM - Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, Carnegie Hall

DCINY presents the US premiere of Welsh composer and DCINY’s composer-in-residence Sir Karl Jenkins’s Symphonic Adiemus as well as Jenkins’s Stabat Mater. Maestro Jonathan Griffithleads the Distinguished Concerts Orchestra and Distinguished Concerts Singers International in a celebration of Sir Karl Jenkins’s 75th birthday.

Performers:

Jonathan Griffith, Conductor
Baidar Al Basri, Ethnic Soloist
Distinguished Concerts Orchestra and Distinguished Concerts Singers International

Program:

All-Sir Karl Jenkins Program
Symphonic Adiemus (US Premiere)
Stabat Mater

Tickets $20-$100!
On Sale Now!

Visit CarnegieHall.org or call 212-247-7800
Box Office: 57th Street and Seventh Avenue

Ticket Link: https://www.carnegiehall.org/calendar/2019/01/21/the-music-of-sir-karl-jenkins-0700pm

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walesfirstandfinalcolony.jpgPlaid Cymru leader Adam Price today publishes an anthology of notable writings which can be seen as a ‘manifesto’ for Welsh independence.

Wales – The First and Final Colony by Adam Price, published this week by Y Lolfa, is a collection of writings by the politician and Plaid Cymru leader on the politics, history and culture of Wales. In it, Adam offers his ideas for securing a brighter future for Wales.

Adam Price was born to a working class family in a council house in Carmarthenshire the son of Rufus, a miner and Welsh champion boxer, and Angela, who moved to Wales from Worcester.

At 31 years old, he was elected an MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr in 2001 and within a year he was uncovering dodgy dealings between Tony Blair and international steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal. Shortly after, he led a campaign to impeach Mr Blair following the invasion of Iraq – eventually leading to the Chilcot Inquiry.

However, in 2010 he stood down from Parliament and headed to the Kennedy School of Government in Harvard, before taking up a role in an innovation foundation.

He returned to frontline Welsh politics in 2016 when he was elected as an Assembly Member in his home patch of Carmarthen before subsequently becoming leader of Plaid Cymru on 28 September 2018.

Speaking ahead of the book’s publication Adam Price said,

“I grew up in the shadow of the miners’ struggle of 1984. A struggle which shaped the politics I retain today.

From council house to House of Commons and from Harvard to Cardiff is not a well-trodden path, but I now face the biggest challenge of my political career – leading the Welsh national movement. But mine and Plaid Cymru’s message to the Welsh people must be simple: Yes Wales Can.

As the first openly gay man to lead this party and indeed any party in Wales, I am a modern, inclusive leader for a modern, inclusive Wales.

I am confident that we can compose a new future for a new Wales. Labour will not be its author. And nor will it be written for us in the marbled halls of Whitehall and Westminster. It will be written in the streets and shops, the pubs and rugby clubs, the homes and hearts of our nation.

Some may shrug off our hope as blind optimism. I say to you that a successful, independent Wales is not a far-off, unachievable aspiration. It is a firm, near-term, realisable goal.”

Over the coming months, Adam Price will be embarking on a Wales-wide tour aimed at sharing his ideas with the people of Wales with the tour launching on Monday 26th November in Insole Court, Llandaf in Cardiff.

Wales – The First and Final Colony by Adam Price is available now (£9.99, Y Lolfa).

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Trenchfoot have established an enviable reputation as one of the fastest emerging folk rock acts in Wales. Steeped in stories real and imagined, it’s not a sad sound though, with emotionally, powerful lyrics, foot-tapping rhythms, driving bass lines, rousing sing-a-long choruses and an Americana folk style with their vocals and harmonies. AmeriCymru spoke to Andy Edwards about the band's history and future plans.




...


AmeriCymru: Hi Andy and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. How did Trenchfoot come to be formed? What can you tell us about the band's history?

Andy:  In 2013 I had an urge to build a trench system and with a small grant from the local council went ahead in readiness for the start of the commemoration of the The Great War. My workplace, Morfa Bay Adventure, Pendine supported my proposals and in the four years since it has been built has seen over 10,000 visitors.  It was to be an educational resource for schools in England and Wales, open to all but mostly for Primary Schools.

When researching my own family I found subject matter for songs and was inspired to pick up my guitar. During visits to the trench I realised nearly everybody had a story to tell.

Getting together with a fellow musician we got a small set of songs together as a duo and the band just grew. 

Trenchfoot’s first studio album was released in the summer of 2015 inspired by the stories of men and women of a hundred years ago and life in the trenches. ‘Flatiron Brothers’ takes people on a journey. It’s not about war. War is the canvas, not the detail. These twelve folk-rock songs are based on family and local history. The group sings of the humour, joy, love and tragedy around everyday people struggling in adversity. ‘Whispers’ came out a year later.

‘more than a fascinating concept….the songs are really interesting,’

Adam Walton, BBC Radio Wales Nov 2015

AmeriCymru: Care to tell us a little about the band's current lineup?

Andy: The group came together in 2013 as part of a project to support some of the WW1 centenary commemorations and events of the following year. Phil Jenkins, came on board as a multi instrumentalist, guitar, ukulele, mando-cello and lead singer. Terry Thomas, mandolin, accordion and lead vocals, Jeff Singer, guitar and lead singer, Lorraine King, banjo, acoustic guitar, mouth organ, whistler and lead.

Seimon Pugh Jones and Andy Edwards lay the foundation of the performance on drums and bass.

It’s a unique sound that successfully melds the human, humorous, love and passionate stories behind the tragic events of WW1 with a 21st Century brand of music that transcends folk/rock.

‘…starting to make a big name for themselves in their home country of Wales and in 2016 expect to see them at festivals across the UK as their following grows.

Painstakingly researched for authenticity and sung and played with a passion which cannot be matched. These guys are being labelled a folk group and although there is a strong element of traditional storytelling here there's also a very modern feel to the album with sumptuous harmonies and accomplished musicianship.

… the passion they feel for this project is overwhelming - so successful has their debut album been that they're already halfway into recording number two ! If you buy one album - one great Welsh album - make it this one!’

Welsh Connections - CD Review


AmeriCymru: How would you describe Trenchfoot's repertoire? Do you mainly perform songs from or about WW1 and WW2?

Andy:  All songs are related to The Great War and more or less take the audience through from 1914 to 1918 and then the after effects of the war. All songs are originals and the whole band are credited with composition.

We have developed two sets of songs. The first starts with the outbreak of war, ‘The Great First World War’ opens the set and relates the cause and effect of what happened in Sarajevo with the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. The first set finishes just after the Battle of the Somme.

The second set is a little more up tempo and invariably people will dance and singalong. We will always finish with ‘Keep The Flame.’ The song has become the band’s motif for what we have done over the last four years – to keep stories alive.

‘A Welsh folk-rock band that tells tales, sings songs, makes you laugh, makes you cry, but above all, entertains you!’

‘Not only a musical feast, it was a tonic for the soul. I stepped out with my heart a little lighter and my head filled with song.’

Wales Online, Nov 2014


AmeriCymru: What's next for Trenchfoot? New gigs, recordings?

Andy: It’s a cross roads for the band. We purposefully entrenched our music in a specific time slot. 1914-18. It has been hard to market a band who although play up-tempo tunes have the subject matter of death and war. The last few weeks as we have travelled through South Wales we have been met with large appreciative audiences and it questions whether to change direction or not.

We still have a large number of songs unrecorded. It would be amazing to go back into the studio and finish the job, but it all costs and decisions will have to be made. We have muted a possible change in direction to become a folk band relying on Welsh history in general. Trenchfoot is such an original, creative group of people it would be sad to let it go. We’ll just have to wait and see!

‘There’s something about their songs that impress itself upon us, tapping into nuances of emotion we didn’t know we had, and finding memories that don’t belong to us,’
Western Mail, Dec 2014

AmeriCymru: Where can readers go to hear/purchase your music online? 

Andy:   Website: https://trenchfoot-music-wales.webs.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Trenchfootmusic/

People can always e mail us. We have a few CD’s left and can post them worldwide £9.99 inc p&p or £15 for the two.

trenchfootmusic@gmail.com

‘Prostrate’ a powerful song...Lorraine’s voice suits it perfectly’

Frank Hennesey Celtic Heartbeat, BBC Radio Wales Nov 2015

AmeriCymru: Any final message for the readers and members of AmeriCymru?

Andy:  One concept we would love to follow is the Welsh influence in the U.S.. Can anybody tell me the best place to research? Are there any books written? Is there any information that might help? Sometimes it’s nice to look at the ‘small’ man and the social side of life rather than bigger moments in history. It’s stories of the real man that inspire us to compose songs that tell a tale.

‘It was all a dream. TRENCHFOOT seen live is a unique and powerful experience. The band cross eras and indeed styles. Reminds one of the 'hard drinking' Irish folk bands of the 60s but the difference is they are Welsh and targeted. The subject matter is often hiraeth, as felt by the men at the 'front' in WW1. Through it all there is a sense of fun, albeit some songs are poignant and sad. Numerous catchy chorus lines are nailed on 'singalongs' and 'foot-tappers'. Beneath it all the message is strong and moving.

Great band, great night out!’

John Francis Wake

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A stream of Hollywood A-listers including Sir Paul McCartney, Bryan Cranston, Dame Judi Dench, Henry Cavill, Whoopi Goldberg, Jack Black, Steve Martin and more have recorded on a musical video alongside the stars of London’s West End. ‘The Hero – A West End & Friends Tribute’ pays thanks servicemen and women around the World and is raising money for the UK charity, Help For Heroes.

The project had an unlikely start, far from the bright lights of Hollywood, in the valleys of South Wales. Married writers; Daniel and Laura Curtis planned on producing the song they had written featuring only a handful of friends who were currently starring in the West End. 

Laura Curtis said; “In between writing new musicals or cabaret for Broadway and West End performers we try and raise money for good causes. We were in Florida during the INVICTUS games in 2016 and we met some true heroes and their amazing families who were staying at the same hotel as us. We decided then and there we wanted to do something but it took us a little bit of planning before we came up with the idea of writing this song.” 

The project had so many artists wanting to take part, that production extended into nearly a year. The couple and the performers donated their time whilst several businesses such as Fortnum and Mason, WPP and Fender helped to underwrite the costs of production, which were kept to a bare minimum. 

Daniel Curtis explained; “It became quickly clear that this project was bigger than our previous ones, people really engaged with the song, which is about a female recruit and her journey. Soon we had artists from Broadway signing on, we even had to change the name from ‘A West End Tribute’, to ‘A West End and Friends Tribute’. Then, when some of the biggest names in Hollywood came on board to record spoken contributions, it was clear to us that so many people shared our vision to make a fitting theatrical tribute for these heroes.” 

The couple are hoping the online video, filmed only with mobile devices and their own basic camera will capture a large audience. Laura Curtis says “We have set up a Just Giving Page for Help For Heroes and will include the link with the video. All proceeds from digital sales of the single will also be donated to the charity. We are also appealing to people watching in different countries to also donate to their own local charities which support veterans”

The release of ‘The Hero – A West End & Friends Tribute’ coincides with the commemorations surrounding the 100th Anniversary of the End of World War One’.



The full list of those providing spoken contributions are: 

Paul Bettany; Jack Black; Dan Brown; Simon Callow; Craig Cash; Henry Cavill;  Bryan Cranston; Dame Judi Dench; Stephen Fry; Josh Gad; Whoopi Goldberg; Kelsey Grammer; Richard E. Grant; Kerry Howard; Jeremy Irons; Sir David Jason; Carole King; Steve Martin; Brian May; Sir Paul McCartney; Kevin McKidd; Alan Menken; Piers Morgan; Matthew Morrison; Wendi Peters; Sir Tony Robinson;  Jonathan Ross; William Shatner; David Suchet; Zoë Wanamaker; Levison Wood 

West End & Broadway Performers:

Stephen Ashfield (Book Of Mormon Broadway); Sam Bailey (X-Factor Winner); David Bedella (Rocky Horror Show); Norman Bowman (42nd Street West End); Christina Bianco (Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat); Alan Burkitt (Kiss Me Kate West End); Sophia Anne Caruso (NBC Sound Of Music Live!); Rodney Earl Clarke (On The Town West End); Collabro (Britain’s Got Talent Winners); Maria Coyne (Wicked West End); Louise Dearman (Wicked West End); Killian Donnelly (Les Miserables West End); Samantha Dorsey (Les Miserables West End); Kerry Ellis (Wicked West End); Alice Fearn (Wicked West End); Ben Forster (Phantom Of The Opera West End); Emma Hatton (Wicked West End); Kara Lily-Hayworth (Cilla UK Tour); Matt Henry (Kinky Boots West End); Rob Houchen (Les Miserables West End); Ida; James Monroe Iglehart (Hamilton Broadway); Charlotte Jaconelli (Heathers The Musical West End), Emma Kingston (Evita International Tour); Luke McCall (Phantom Of The Opera West End); Jai McDowall (Britain’s Got Talent Winner); Nadim Naaman (Phantom Of The Opera West End); Trevor Dion Nicholas (Aladdin West End and Broadway); David Phelps; Dame Siân Phillips (Cabaret West End); Laura Pitt-Pulford (Seven Brides For Seven Brothers West End);  Joe Aaron Reid (Dreamgirls West End); David Ribi (Dreamboats and Petticoats West End) Oliver Savile (Wicked West End); Cleve September (Hamilton West End); Charlie Stemp (Hello Dolly! Broadway); Savannah Stevenson (Wicked West End); Marisha Wallace (Dreamgirls West End); Emma Williams (Mrs Henderson Presents West End); Michael Xavier (Sunset Boulevard Broadway).

 

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teachyourdogwelsh1.jpgHere’s a book for Welsh learners with a difference! Teach your Dog Welsh aims to help Welsh learners practise their Welsh with their dog.

Teach your Dog Welsh (Y Lolfa) is full of appealing 1950s-style retro illustrations, with a picture and the expression it illustrates (in both Welsh and English) on every double page, as well help with the Welsh pronunciation. There are over 100 expressions to practise, from Paid â chrafu (‘Don’t scratch’) to Fydda i ddim yn hir (‘I won’t be long’). It’s an excellent and really fun introduction to learning Welsh for all ages – and most of the phrases can also be used in non-dog related situations!

The inspiration for the book came to Anne Cakebread after she re-homed Frieda, a rescue whippet. Anne came to realise that Frieda would only respond to Welsh commands. Slowly, whilst dealing with Frieda, Anne realised that she was overcoming her nerves about speaking Welsh aloud by talking to the dog, and her Welsh was improving as a result –this gave her the idea of creating a book to help other would-be learners whilst also using her skills as an illustrator.

The book has been awarded W H Smith Book of the Month for November 2018 and praised for its beautiful illustrations and quirky concept. Comedian and writer Richard Herring has commented:

“Anne Cakebread not only has the best name in the Universe, she has also come up with a brilliantly fun book which will help humans and canines learn new languages. I am world renowned for doing the best Welsh accent ever, so it’s good to now also be able to speak some actual Welsh too. And more importantly, so can my dog.”

Originally from Cardiff, Anne and her partner moved to a village on the west Wales coast. She wanted to improve her Welsh as it was important to her to become part of the lively Welsh-speaking community in the area.

“I first had to unlearn the Welsh I'd been taught in school as it's nothing like the Welsh people speak here. That's why I've made the expressions in the book colloquial, as a large part of learning is listening to what people say around you.”

Frieda, the Welsh rescue whippet, can understand a few words in English and the other English dogs have learnt a few sentences of Welsh – so the house is fully bilingual!

BBC weatherman and Welsh learner Derek Brockway has praised the book and described it as “a really nice, fun way to start learning Welsh – great book!”

Summoning up the confidence to use a language you’re learning can be daunting at first, and a number of books are available to help with vocabulary and pronunciation, but the lighthearted context and the beautiful illustrations mean that this book is a bit out of the ordinary. Lefi Gruffudd from Y Lolfa says:

“This book is both a practical and a fun way to practise Welsh, and hopefully it will be a useful resource to Welsh learners.”

Carolyn Hodges, Head of English Publishing at Y Lolfa, who developed language-teaching materials for Oxford University Press for many years, said: “Some people have a bad experience of learning Welsh at school and that puts them off trying again as adults. One of the key factors in motivating someone to start learning and using a new language is to make it enjoyable. Teach Your Dog Welsh really brings the language to life and makes it fun – it’s a really positive (re)introduction to this wonderful language.”

There are plans to expand the series to include Teach Your Cat Welsh, as well as translations into other minority languages including Manx, Cornish and Maori.

Anne Cakebread is a freelance illustrator with over 20 years’ experience in publishing and TV, including cover art and illustrations for numerous books, magazines and adverts. She also illustrated sets and props for Boomerang on S4C’s award-winning ABC. She grew up and went to school in Radyr, Cardiff and now lives with her partner, two whippets and lurcher in St Dogmaels, where she runs a B&B.

Teach Your Dog Welsh by Anne Cakebread is available now (£4.99, Y Lolfa).

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