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From small acorns big trees grow

31 years ago when I was signed to MCA Records and about to release the first album with Energy Orchard I received a phone call from a couple of local community workers in West Belfast. Those were some of the darkest days of the conflict, traditionally known as the Troubles. These activists wanted to change events on the ground and to help, particularly the youth, to have a focus other than to riot on the streets. We played the first West Belfast Festival - at considerable risk to our careers. But ultimately it had to be done as the overwhelming feeling of responsibility to our community was always going to win the day. It was my great delight this year to take part in a range of television interviews, debates and to contribute to academic studies, oral history archives and a subsequent book which was launched at this year’s Feile an Phobail. There were many unsung heroes who carried this, which is now one of the biggest community festivals in Europe. Just too many to mention. I’m proud to say that I’ve performed in the main event at the festival five years ago. And I’m now performing for the second time at the Eastside Arts Festival, which definitely suits my unity-politics.

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