Olivia Newton John and Billy Bragg to top bill at Celtic Connections festival

Grease star Olivia Newton-John. Picture by Marion Curtis/StarPix via Associated Press
Ben Philip, Press Association

GREASE star Olivia Newton John and singer-songwriter Billy Bragg are among the top names performing at next year's Celtic Connections festival.

The programme for the 2017 event – being held in Glasgow – will feature about 2,100 musicians from around the world.

Newton John will appear as part of the festival's inspiring women artists theme while Bragg will join Joe Henry to showcase railroad songs from their Shine A Light album.

The 18-day event will commence on Thursday January 19, with award-winning folk singer-songwriter Laura Marling performing the world premiere of orchestrations of her songs by Kate St John with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

Shirley Collins, Martha Wainwright, Evelyn Glennie, Fairport Convention and King Creosote are among other artists on the bill.

Concerts, ceilidhs, talks and art exhibitions will feature as well as late-night sessions and a host of one-off musical collaborations across 300 events at venues throughout the city.

Artistic director Donald Shaw said: "A breathtaking range of styles and traditions radiates throughout Celtic Connections 2017.

"Artists who have shaped the present day and artists who are redefining music for the future will take to the stage.

"Artists whose lives and cultures could not be more different will come together to share their stories, passion and skill.

"At the heart of it all is the simple life-affirming experience of being at a live music performance during a world leading festival."

As well as female performers, organisers say the festival features artists who have lived through personal hardships to find success through their music and an education programme which will see more than 11,000 children across Scotland attend free morning workshops led by Celtic musicians.

Glasgow city councillor Archie Graham added: "Each year Celtic Connections creates fantastic opportunities for thousands of schoolchildren throughout the city and across Scotland to attend free concerts by world-leading Celtic musicians, and to learn about Celtic music in their classrooms.

"This work to enrich the lives of young people is a vital part of a festival which celebrates and shares so much wonderful music each year."

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