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Lincoln folk duo Changing Horses in plea for votes to win international music prize

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: December 15, 2012

Appealing for your vote: Richard Birtill and Francesca Cullen

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A folk duo from Lincoln are calling on music lovers to help them scoop the grand prize in an international music competition.

Francesca Cullen, 29, and Richard Birtill, 30, formed as Changing Horses in 2008 and have spent the last four years performing their own material at gigs across the country.

In June, they put out their debut EP, The Nashville Sessions, which was recorded in the famous American music city and featured Chris Donohue, who has performed with icons such as Elvis Costello and Emmylous Harris.

Now, Changing Horses have reached the final of the Youbloom Music Awards and are up against seven other artists in a bid to win 10,000 euros.

They were put through to the final by a judging panel made up of Nigel Grainge, the man who signed The Boomtown Rats, and esteemed songwriter Rupert Hine.

But now they need public votes to crown them the 2012 Youbloom winners with their chosen song Cut All Strings.

If they are victorious, they will use the money to record and release their debut album. They are offering credit in the sleeve notes to anyone who logs on to vote for them.

Miss Cullen, the band's vocalist, violin and mandolin player, said: "We've got our debut album written and a concept for it all ready to go, but we just can't afford to do it yet.

"There's so much that goes into releasing an album, it's not just about the recording process which you can do in your bedroom. There's the artwork, the website and then paying to actually get the CDs made.

"It's harder than ever before for bands like ourselves to do well at the moment because the whole X Factor thing has just taken over the industry.

"But we're trying to do something that's a bit different and we're trying to do our bit to make original music."

Changing Horses' Youbloom entry Cut All Strings was written by Mr Birtill, the band's vocalist and guitarist, and has been championed by the likes of the BBC's Steve Lamacq and Bob Harris. It has also been used on an HBO documentary in the United States and was selected by Mars Planets Radio as song of the week.

"I was living in Preston when I wrote it so most of the inspiration comes from grim, northern experiences," explained Mr Birtill.

"There's a lot of grim atmosphere in the north but a lot of inspirational music that comes from it.

"In a vague kind of way, Cut All Strings is about getting rid of things that aren't good for you and cutting ties to the past when you're moving on to something else.

"It's about new beginnings. It could be a relationship and getting over an ex-girlfriend, but I didn't really write it about that.

"In this economic climate the music industry is so tough.

"All we want to do is keep creating art, music and something for the general public to listen to and hopefully enjoy.

"Winning this competition would mean we could record our debut album, and we live for that."

Voting for the Youbloom Music Awards final is open now and runs until 11.59pm tomorrow.

To show your support for Changing Horses, visit www.youbloom.com/ybsc/entry/3058 .

For more about the band, visit www.changinghorsesmusic.com .

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  • dickley  |  December 15 2012, 5:12PM

    Oh no, please god, not another singer songwriter banging on about how grim oop north is.