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New York Welsh
40 minutes | Nov 15, 2020
Episode 30: Independent Spirit - Rebecca Hurn
Rebecca Hurn is an independent singer-songwriter from Porthcawl, in South Wales. Before writing and releasing her own music, Rebecca built up a fan following by recording acoustic cover songs and sharing them online. In September 2015 Rebecca released her debut EP ‘Lions’ which reached no. 5 in the iTunes Singer/Songwriter charts. With the release of her second EP ‘Waves’ in April 2018, Rebecca became a BBC Radio Wales 'A list recording Artist’ and, in June 2019, she won ‘Best Singer-Songwriter’ in the Folk Song category at the International Independent Music Awards held in New York City. Most recently, Rebecca was awarded the New York Songwriters Circle annual grant, performing at their live virtual showcase. The grant will go towards the production of her debut album, scheduled to be released summer 2021. Gideon and Richard caught up with Rebecca over Zoom from her home in Porthcawl. They discussed the pros and cons of being an independent artist, her ongoing love affair with New York, and the time she staged a concert from her driveway to boost morale during lockdown.
66 minutes | Sep 13, 2020
Episode 29: Photojournalism On The Front Line - Claire Thomas
Claire Thomas is a photographer and photojournalist from Penygroes in South Wales. Her work on issues relating to global political and military conflicts, human rights, and humanitarian and environmental crises has earned her recognition at the 2017 British Journalism Awards, the 2018 UK Picture Editors’ Guild Awards, and the 2018 Amnesty International UK Media Awards. From within the camps that emerged from the refugee crisis in Europe to the war against ISIS in Iraq, Claire has covered a range of stories in various countries, contributing images and photo essays to leading newspapers, magazines and news agencies worldwide. Her editorial clients include The Sunday Times, The Guardian, National Geographic, Greenpeace and Al Jazeera, to name just a few. She also works regularly with United Nations agencies and international NGOs, including Amnesty International, OXFAM and Save the Children. On this episode, Gideon and Richard chat with Claire about her path in photojournalism to the front line in Iraq, her coverage of the torched oil fields in Qayyarah and her experiences at a makeshift field clinic in Mosul - the location of one of the deadliest urban battles since World War II. They discuss the role of a photojournalist in a humanitarian crisis as well as some of the more unique psychological aspects of her job, including what it’s like returning back to Wales after being in a war zone.
41 minutes | Aug 4, 2020
Episode 28: The First Virtual North American Festival of Wales - Dr Megan Williams
On this episode, Gideon and Richard chat with Dr Megan Williams from the Welsh North American Association about the upcoming annual North American Festival of Wales, a weekend long event that includes performances, poetry, literature, singing, dancing, seminars, a marketplace and an Eisteddfod. Sadly, due to the ongoing coronavirus threat, this year's entire event will be virtual, the first time in the festival's 91 year history. The good news is that anyone can now attend for free online when proceedings kick off on Sept 4th, or screen it at their own leisure through Sept 30 via their event page. During their conversation, Gideon and Richard speak with Megan about the importance of the festival to the Welsh North American community, the challenges of adapting to a virtual format and the history of the event and Welsh heritage in North America.
48 minutes | Jul 28, 2020
Episode 27: The Road to Fun City - Rod Thomas (Bright Light Bright Light)
Rod Thomas (stage name Bright Light Bright Light) is an independent singer-songwriter from the outskirts of Neath in South Wales. His music is a combination of nu-disco, 80s synthpop, dance and house music. Over the past decade he has collaborated with Elton John, Jake Shears, Andy Bell of Erasure, and toured with Cher. Two of his albums have reached the Top 20 on the UK Independent Albums Chart and his upcoming, fourth album, ‘Fun City’, will be released this September. He is also the founder of Yskwn, a record label and creative company set up to support LGBTQ+ and immigrant talent in NYC. On this episode, Gideon and Richard discuss Rod’s musical career, his latest single, ‘I Used To Be Cool’, as well as the ongoing fight for equal representation of LGBTQ+ artists in music and popular culture.
60 minutes | Jun 27, 2020
Episode 26: 90 Minutes of Freedom - Jamie Grundy
Jamie Grundy is a former football coach and writer with a special focus on criminal justice, sport and rehabilitation. He is the author of 90 Minutes of Freedom, which follows HMP Prescoed FC, the only prisoner football team in Wales, through a single season in Gwent Central Division 2. The book was written with the support of 'National Sporting Heritage' as an exploration of how sport can assist in the rehabilitation efforts of prisoners. On this episode Gideon and Richard discuss the origins of the project and Jamie's research process, which included witnessing locker room confrontations and even lacing up to play himself, as well as some of the unique aspects of playing football in prison and the special bonds that are formed as a result.
48 minutes | Mar 4, 2020
Episode 25: Going 'West' for Wales Week - Gwenllian Higginson and Gareth John Bale
Gwenllian Higginson is an actor and writer from North Pembrokeshire. Gareth John Bale is an actor and director from Ynysmeudwy in the Swansea Valleys. On this episode, Gideon and Richard discuss ‘West’, the play written by Owen Thomas that Gwenllian and Gareth came to New York to perform as part of Wales Week. They cover Gwenllian’s previous run of performances in New York, starring as Jackie in ‘The Good Earth’, as well as Gareth’s sensational one man play, ‘Grav’, depicting the life of rugby legend and broadcaster Ray Gravell.
49 minutes | Feb 14, 2020
Episode 24: Fake News, The Perennial Founder, and the FBI - Jaz-Michael King
Jaz-Michael King is a Chief Technology Officer and data privacy advocate. He the is founder of Tŵt (Toot) Wales, a new social media network built to encourage bilingualism online while providing a more private social media experience. Born in Cardiff, Jaz grew up in Llanilltud Fawr, South Glamorgan. After stints in England and France, he moved to New York in the mid-90s where his arrival coincided with the explosion of the internet. During this time, he ran a cybercafe in Brooklyn and built and sold his own internet startup, MerlinWeb, before moving into healthcare where he now works as an expert in health informatics, quality improvement, and public reporting. On this episode, Gideon and Richard discuss Jaz's experiences in New York, including setting up Brooklyn’s first youth rugby club, riding the dot-com boom, and how creating one of the largest online government conspiracy forums led to several run-ins with the FBI.
53 minutes | Dec 21, 2019
Episode 23: 2019 Year in Review
Joined by Rachel John and Gwilyn Roberts-Harry from the New York Welsh, Gideon and Richard look back at the last 12 months. They discuss their favorite moments from the podcast, how the New York Welsh continues to evolve as an organization, and look ahead at what's to come in 2020.
67 minutes | Nov 13, 2019
Episode 22: Wyt ti'n siarad Cymraeg? Part II - Fate of the Language
In the second of a two-part special episode Gideon and Richard pick up the story by looking at the catalyst for Welsh language activism in the 60s and 70s, the successes of the movement and the changes brought about by the establishing of the Welsh Assembly. With more contributions from special guest experts they learn about the sociological and neurological benefits of learning a second language and share some of the many tools for learning Welsh available today.
66 minutes | Nov 13, 2019
Episode 21: Wyt ti'n siarad Cymraeg? Part I - History of the Language
In the first of a two-part special, Gideon and Richard ask, "Do you speak Welsh?”. They discuss the falling numbers of Welsh speakers and the various factors behind this decline. With contributions from special guest experts they delve into the history of Cymraeg, the roots of the language and how key events in history have impacted its usage—from the Roman Occupation, the English Reformation and the Industrial Revolution all the way to the 20th century.
48 minutes | Sep 30, 2019
Episode 20: Writing in the Footsteps of History - Peter Thabit Jones
Peter Thabit Jones is a poet from Swansea in South Wales. He is the author of sixteen books and his poems have been translated into over twenty-two languages. He is the recipient of a number of awards, including the Arts Council of Wales Award, the Homer European Medal for Poetry and Art, and the Shabdaguchha Journal Poet of the Year Award for his contribution to international poetry. He has performed and given writing workshops at festivals such as the Swansea Festival of Music and the Arts, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and throughout America, including the Massachusetts Poetry Festival and the Conference of World Affairs in Colorado. He is also the founder and editor of The Seventh Quarry, a poetry magazine published in Swansea with an international perspective. On this episode, Gideon and Richard speak to Peter about the life of a working poet, his time spent traveling America, and how he came to be commissioned, alongside Aeronwy Thomas the poet and daughter of Dylan Thomas, to write the Dylan Thomas Walking Tour of Greenwich Village, on which Peter kindly led us in episode 18. Peter's new book America, Aeronwy and Me: Dylan Thomas Tribute Tour is available now.
53 minutes | Aug 29, 2019
Episode 19: Broadway Beginnings and Hanging Coats of the Rich and Famous - Chloe Wilson
Chloe Wilson is an actor and singer from the Rhondda. An accomplished soprano, she learned her craft in the choral traditions of the valleys. At 18 she auditioned for and was accepted in to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and — on completion of her studies — she was invited to stay on and join the Academy’s Company for 2018/19. Chloe recently performed in her first off-Broadway musical in New York, Ablaze, an a Capella “musical thriller” at The New Ohio Theatre. Richard and Gideon caught up with Chloe the day after closing night to talk about her experience in the show, what it’s like to be a young actor starting out in the Big Apple, and how some Welsh solidarity gave her the resources she needed to follow her dreams.
69 minutes | Jul 30, 2019
Episode 18: A Walking Tour of Greenwich Village - Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas is one of the most recognisable Welsh names in the United States. He’s best known for his landmark poems such as ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ and ‘Death shall have no dominion’, his play for voices ‘Under Milk Wood’, and classic stories such as ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’. Born in Swansea in 1914, the legendary poet spent much of his life traveling back and forth between homes in London and Wales, yet to many he will always be associated with New York City. Between 1950 and 1953 Dylan visited New York on four occasions, the last of which culminated with his passing at the age of 39. On this episode Gideon & Richard are joined by Swansea poet and author, Peter Thabit Jones, for a guided walking tour through Greenwich Village visiting places of significance to Dylan, including a few of his old watering holes. The tour, written by Peter Thabit Jones and Aeronwy Thomas, can be purchased as a self-guided book or accessed through its affiliated app.
48 minutes | Jun 27, 2019
Episode 17: Creating Brands for Floyd Mayweather and Jay-Z - Ibby Tarafdar
Ibby Tarafdar is a graphic designer from Cardiff. Born in Wales, he grew up in Gabalfa after his father emigrated to Wales from Bangladesh in the 1980s. Since completing his degree in Graphic Communication at the University of South Wales in 2014, Ibby has since created brand identities for numerous athletes signed to Mayweather Promotions and Jay Z’s Roc Nation. His designs have featured alongside globally recognized brands like Under Armor and Puma and have been televised worldwide. On this episode, Gideon & Richard discuss Ibby’s rise to notoriety, his new studio in Cardiff, and what it’s like to work with some of the most powerful entertainment names in America.
64 minutes | May 29, 2019
Episode 16: A Walk in the Park and the Small Matter of Trying to Change the World - Dr Denny Taylor
Dr Denny Taylor is an author, researcher and educator living in New York City. She has published 19 books—fiction and nonfiction—and is a co-founder of Garn Press, a publishing house with a focus on social conscience. Denny is widely credited with giving rise to family literacy, a concept UNESCO uses today as an organizing principle for supporting vulnerable populations all over the world. In 2004, she was elected Member of the International Reading Association’s Reading Hall of Fame and has been nominated for a number of prestigious awards, including a Pulitzer Prize in 1997 and, most recently, the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. On this episode, Gideon and Richard talk to Denny about her work in Family Literacy, her involvement with UN, and a number of the major issues facing society today relating to education, technology, and climate change. They also discuss two of Denny’s books; ‘Rosie’s Umbrella’, a book inspired by Denny and her mother’s own experiences of life in the Welsh mining towns of the early 20th century, and ‘Split Second Solution’, a dystopian tale set in NYC in 2022 that foreshadows the rise of Trump, the 'me-too' movement, and the wide mis-application of artificial intelligence.
39 minutes | Mar 28, 2019
Episode 15: From the Outskirts of Cardiff to Starting Fly-Half for the USA - James Bird
James Bird is a rugby player and management consultant. He is a fly-half for New York based Old Blue RFC, who he has played for since moving to the US in 2013. In 2016 he became eligible for and represented the US national team in the Americas Rugby Championship, the American equivalent of the Six Nations. On this episode, Richard and Gideon talk about the growing game in the US, the challenges of balancing a demanding rugby schedule with a corporate career, and where to get married if you’re planning a quintessential New York wedding.
49 minutes | Mar 6, 2019
Episode 14: Three Billboards Outside The Rhondda Valley - Matthew Hitt
Matthew Hitt is a singer and songwriter from the Rhondda Valley in South Wales. He is the front man of Drowners, an American-Welsh indie rock band based out of New York. Formed in 2011, the band signed for Frenchkiss Records and released their self-titled studio album in May 2013. After seven years performing and touring the world and one more studio album, the band announced a hiatus last year, prompting Matt to produce his first solo record. On this episode, Richard and Gideon chat to Matt about life in New York, what it's like to stay in some of the best and worst hotels in America, and how a surprise scouting in Times Square launched a decade long side-career in modelling.
52 minutes | Jan 28, 2019
Episode 13: A Musical Education, Composing for Commercials and a Knight to Remember - Karl Jenkins
Sir Karl Jenkins is a musician and composer from Penclawdd on the Gower Peninsula. He was knighted in the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours List. From his early days in jazz and prog rock he has gone on to become the most performed living composer in the world. His canon of work transcends genre or classification and now includes 17 gold and platinum discs. His work The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace has been in the UK charts for 15 years, and was performed at the Lincoln Center New York on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Lady Carol Barratt is a musician, composer, educator, and a lyricist for Sir Karl's work. She has written 84 titles in musical education, and three children's books set on Gower which have now been translated in to Welsh. Richard and Gideon speak to Sir Karl and Lady Carol ahead of the concert in Carnegie Hall in honour of his 75th birthday.
54 minutes | Dec 18, 2018
Episode 12: John Lewis Christmas Ads, Closing the Gender Gap, and Marketing Marijuana - Sarah Collinson
Sarah Collinson is Head of Account Management at Joan, a startup creative agency based in NYC that works with Google and YouTube. Prior to joining Joan, Sarah spent 4 years at world-renowned advertising agency Anomaly where, among other things, she helped create one of the most highly-acclaimed cannabis brands in the world today. Originating from Swansea, she studied History at Oxford before moving to London, and later New York, to build a successful career in advertising. On this episode, Richard and Gideon discuss Joan’s efforts to bridge the gender and diversity gap, what Sarah looks for when hiring, and where to get a good pint in Swansea on a Monday night in 2002.
41 minutes | Nov 16, 2018
Episode 11: The Royal Wedding, Christmas No.1, and How To Get to Carnegie Hall - Paul Mealor
Paul Mealor has been described in the New York Times as, the most important person to emerge in Welsh music since William Mathias. He rose to global attention when his motet Ubi Caritas et Amor was performed at the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011. That same year he became the first classical composer to hold both the classical and pop chart No 1’s at the same time while his single, ‘Wherever You Are’, a piece for The Military Wives Choir, reached UK Christmas No 1. Born in St Asaph, North Wales, Paul now splits his time between Anglesey and Aberdeen where he is Professor of Composition. Richard and Gideon caught up with Paul ahead of his US premier of Requiem at Carnegie Hall as part of the DCINY commemoration of The Great War. During the episode, the boys discuss Paul’s overnight fame, his pledge to defend the city of Aberdeen, and what it‘s like being the Warren Garland of classical music.
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