Professor Fay Hield

Department of Music

Professor of Ethnomusicology

Dr. Fay Hield
Profile picture of Dr. Fay Hield

Full contact details

Professor Fay Hield
Department of Music
Jessop Building
Leavygreave Road
S3 7RD

I have made, thought about and organised music to varying degrees my whole life. While I imagined that one day I’d get a proper job, singing in the pub has miraculously come together as a career.

It all began at Bacca Pipes Folk Club joining in choruses, then nannying for touring musicians gave me insights into this performance context and ‘music industry’. When the ‘Folk Degree’ started at Newcastle University in 2004 I jumped, mainly to critique how they thought they could teach this stuff, but the academic bug got me, and I now spend a lot of time asking why folk music is important to people, and trying out different ways of doing it.

I completed my PhD ‘English Folk Singing and the Construction of Community’ in 2010 and started teaching in 2011. I record and tour with my band and special projects like The Full English and Modern Fairies. I have a passion for making the experience of traditional music widely accessible. This is mainly done through organising events under the banner of Soundpost, an organisation advocating educational and entertaining folk music activities.

Research interests

Current projects

Access Folk Project

Dr Fay Hield is leading a team of academics and community partners to work together to identify the current problems and test out potential solutions in an ambitious 5 year long research project to increase and diversify participation in English folk singing. Funded by UKRI Future leaders fellowship. 

Access Folk is built on co-production principles where the people affected have real power to direct the research and will trial and evaluate new approaches in collaboration with the wider folk singing scene.

Social Media: @AccessFolk
Tel: 0114 2220466

Modern Fairies

Focussing on the story-world of British folk-tales, Modern Fairies explores how this material can be re-mediated to be made relevant to modern audiences. The research surfaces the experience of 12 artists, writers and musicians responding to archival material exploring how they relate to the stories and what new works are generated. We also invite audiences to engage with the works-in-process and examine how this feeds into artistic production. []

Folk Club Culture

Working with Paul Mansfield, we are exploring common themes in our research into English folk clubs producing a series of articles exploring social discipline, repertoire formation, and barriers to participation.


Journal articles

  • Hield F (2022) Musics Lost and Found: Song Collectors and the Life and Death of Folk Tradition Michael Church. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2021. xv + 294 pp. Illustrations. Bibliography. Discography. Index. ISBN: 978-1-783-27607-3 (hbk). Folk Music Journal, 12(3), 136-137. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Hield F & Mansfield P (2019) Anything goes? Recognising norms, leadership and moderating behaviours at folk clubs in England. Ethnomusicology Forum, 28(3), 338-361. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Hield F & Price S (2018) 'I realised it was the same song': Familiarisation, assimilation and making meaning with new folk music. International Journal of Traditional Arts, 2. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Hield FE & price S (2017) ‘Old Adam was the first man formed’: (In)forming and investigating listeners’ experiences of new music as audience enrichment, public engagement and research. Participations, 14(1), 285-312. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download


Book reviews

  • Hield F (2017) Harry Upton. FOLK MUSIC JOURNAL, 11(2), 89-91. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Hield FE (2016) Smile in your Sleep: Lullabies Old and New (Album review). EDS(Winter 2016), 33-33. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Hield F (2016) Roots of the Revival: American and British Folk Music in the 1950s. FOLK MUSIC JOURNAL, 11(1), 93-95. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Hield FE (2014) The Song Collectors Collective. Website Review.. The World of Music (New Series)(1), 176-176. RIS download Bibtex download


  • Hield FE (2015) Old Adam - series of 13 traditional songs. RIS download Bibtex download

Website content

  • Hield FE (2014) Pete Seeger: a life of broadening minds through music. Obituary.. RIS download Bibtex download
Research group

Current PhD students

Nicola Beazley 'Interplays of tradition and acceptance in creative practices in contemporary, professional English folk tunes'


Rebecca Dellow 'Vernacular Instrumental Manuscript Sources 1860-1875. Paradigmatic of a Popular Music Culture of Folk Tradition?'

Professional activities and memberships
  • Member of the international advisory board for the International Journal for Traditional Arts.
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
  • Founding Director of Soundpost Community Network
  • External Examiner for the BA (Hons) Applied Music and MA Music and the Environment programmes at the University of the Highlands and Islands.
  • External examiner for MMus research projects, compositions and performances in the field of Traditional Music at Newcastle University.


  • 2014 ‘Best Album’ (winner), ‘Best Group’ (winner), ‘Folk Singer of the Year’ (nomination), BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
  • 2013 ‘Tradition Award’ (winner), FATEA
  • 2013 ‘Best Traditional Album’ (nomination), Spiral Earth Awards.
  • 2012 ‘Album of the Year’ (winner), Folk Witness.
  • 2012 ‘Album of the Year’ (nomination), fROOTS Critics Poll.
  • 2011 ‘Horizon Award for best Newcomer’ (nomination), BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Highlight performances

2017 Fay Hield & The Hurricane Party, Shanghai & Wuhan, China
2017 Fay Hield solo, Merode Festival, Belgium
2016 Fay Hield & The Hurricane Party, Cambridge Folk Festival
2014 The Full English, Royal Albert Hall


  • 2017 ‘Uproot Festival’ BBC Radio 3; 40 minute live broadcast performance
  • 2017 ‘Who Wrote the first Folk Song’ The Listening Service BBC Radio 3; guest expert interview
  • 2016 The Folk Show BBC Radio 2; live studio performance and interview
  • 2016 Folk Connections BBC Radio 3; interview and live performance
  • 2014 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards live performance broadcast from the Royal Albert Hall
  • 2013 Woman’s Hour Interviewee and live performance
  • 2013 BBC Radio 3 Proms Interval programme presenter