Joy Dunlop on the Highlands and Islands Music and Dance Festival

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With preparations for the 35th Highlands and Islands Music and Dance Festival well underway, we take a look back at a well-known competitor.

The festival takes place throughout Oban from May 4 to May 6, and one person who isn’t a stranger to the competition is Connel’s Joy Dunlop.

Joy, who won the coveted Gold Medal at the Mòd in 2010, was brought up singing Gaelic when it was maybe not the coolest thing to do, but that didn’t stop her from catching the traditional music bug.

Speaking about the Highlands and Islands Music and Dance Festival, she said: ‘The Festival was a great performing opportunity for me – as a soloist and also, in both choirs and our folk group – and the competitive side of it gave us a focus to work towards.

‘It didn’t matter if we won or not, just having the opportunity to take part made us work harder and I am sure that the competition helped my confidence too.

‘More importantly though,  we had great fun doing it – it was something that we looked forward to every year and it gave us material and skills that we could further develop.

‘Music and singing has given me so many new opportunities that I would never have thought possible in my career to date – and it’s very encouraging to see that the interest in Gaelic singing and traditional music is growing every year.’

Joy now works in a variety of Gaelic related fields, such as performing as a solo singer, as well as with her band LAS, delivering cultural arts projects and she is involved in Gaelic television and radio work, in addition to teaching Gaelic language and Gaelic song at a range of at educational institutes, including Glasgow University and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.