Organisers hope new folk chart will give genre a popularity boost

The first chart will be released on Saturday.

A new chart dedicated to folk music was conceived to give the genre a much-needed boost following the devastation wrought by the pandemic, organisers said.

The Official Charts Company will unveil the inaugural list on Saturday. It will be released monthly and is compiled using physical and digital sales, downloads and streams, from UK and Irish musicians releasing albums within the last 18 months.

Tom Besford, chief executive of English Folk Expo, an organisation helping with the chart’s launch, said it was a response to the pandemic.

Laura Marling
Laura Marling is one of the UK’s most popular folk singers (Yui Mok/PA)

Following the closure of specialist music festivals and magazines, Mr Besford said the folk genre needed a different way to attract new listeners.

He said: “We were trying to think of a way that would give us a reason to shout about folk music, that would give us a reason to talk to people about the newest albums or the best music that was coming out and we thought a folk chart would give us the best chance.”

Mr Besford pointed to the wide variety within the genre, from largely unknown acts to mainstream artists such as Laura Marling, and said a dedicated chart would bring them all greater exposure.

Folk artist Rioghnach Connolly, of the band The Breath, suggested the move was overdue.

“You wonder how it’s never happened before, really,” she said. “It’s really wonderful and it’s a really good opportunity and a wonderful platform.

“Especially for independent artists, self-releasing artists, to get their names on the top 40.”

Marling’s Song For Our Daughter is the biggest UK folk album of 2020 so far, according to the Official Charts Company, having amassed 18,000 chart sales since its release in April.

It peaked at number six on the Official Albums Chart.

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