Underneath The Stars Festival – bringing the balance back

Underneath The Stars Festival lead the march for gender balanced music line-ups

Underneath The Stars
Underneath The Stars 2021

Underneath the Stars festival is leading the march for gender balance at festivals, announcing its final music line-up with a 50/50 artist split including an all-female headline bill, Imelda May (Friday), Kate Rusby (Saturday) and Suzanne Vega (Sunday).

This year, the festival worked with The F List, a directory of approximately 5,000 UK female/nonbinary musicians and bands to improve the diversity of the festival’s line-up and is one of the first UK festivals to achieve this in 2022.

Running Friday 29th – Sunday 31st July, at Cinderhill Farm, Barnsley the festival’s ethos has always been to create a gender-balanced music bill, representing a range of artists from a host of musical styles from ska, Americana, folk, soul to brass bands and indie.

Underneath the Stars Programmer Eddie Barcan said: “We do hope one day that an all-female headline bill will be unremarkable, and that fairly balanced bills will be the norm. Every festival of all sizes and genres plays its part in the eco-system of the music industry and I hope soon the statistics, the campaigning, the female musicians talking about their experiences, and the barriers they have faced, will have a positive impact on the diversity of all our festival stages. I’m proud to work with Underneath the Stars, which is at the forefront of striving for gender balance in the festival industry.”

Festival Director Emma Holling says: “Despite being a smaller, regional family-friendly festival, we have shown that achieving gender balance at festivals is possible, and every other festival should be working on making a positive impact on the diversity of all of our festival stages. We are a female-led team with a very strong female presence below this, and we share this ethos across our wider Underneath the Stars family. From our volunteers, to food and drink vendors, the family workshop activities, as well as a gender-balanced line-up of music artists, inclusivity is at the festival’s core. Let’s work together to remove gendered music genres, and improve representation at festivals.”

Headlining the family favourite event on Friday is Imelda May. One of Ireland’s most celebrated female artists, Imelda has performed with Bono, Tom Jones, Noel Gallagher, Elvis Costello and Van Morrison, and joins Underneath the Stars for 2022, performing favourite hits and songs from her extraordinary album, 11 Past the Hour.

Fan favourite and Barnsley’s own nightingale, Kate Rusby will perform Saturday. Often hailed as the ‘first lady of folk’, and an Underneath the Stars festival figurehead, Kate celebrates 30 years of touring this year. With a back catalogue stretching over three decades, Kate will perform a selection of highlights, including those from her most recent albums, and from 30: Many Happy Returns.  

Closing the weekend in spectacular fashion, Suzanne Vega, will mark the final performance of Underneath the Stars 2022. Regarded as one of the foremost songwriters of her generation, her self-titled debut album sold 1 million copies with her follow-up Solitude Standing nominated for three Grammys, including Record of the Year.

Returning for 2022, Underneath the Stars will have two covered stages beneath big top tents, so festival-goers are guaranteed to enjoy classic Underneath the Stars live music performances without an umbrella. The tents will have no walls ensuring an unrestricted view of the two main stages for festival-goers sat outside, and better ventilation for those inside. Plus, with a new layout and standing areas, audiences have the perfect spots for dancing in their wellies!

Photos: Imelda May – IM.Press. Suzanne Vega – S Holz, Kate Rusby – Mike Ainscoe

Underneath The Stars Festival website

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