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The Stewart Cruickshank Bursary: Guest blog by Richard Bull

Stewart Cruickshank was a great friend to Glasgow Music City Tours, and his knowledge and generosity of spirit were invaluable when we were starting out. We treasure the memory of Stewart out on our dry-run tour pipping us to the post with stories at every stop before we told them. We’re really pleased to be able to give over our blog to the team behind the Stewart Cruickshank Bursary, a brilliant opportunity for emerging songwriters. They’re open for entries now, but there’s only one week to go, the deadline is 6pm Friday April 12th so get reading to find out how to apply…

Stewart Cruickshank, who died in 2015, was a man who lived music. In his work as a radio producer, he made thousands of programmes for the BBC, all alive with surprising, electrifying sounds. He never missed an opportunity to pass on his enthusiasms – he’d talk to you for hours – just to get you listening to music you wouldn’t have otherwise heard. The programmes Rock On Scotland and Beat Patrol in the 1980s and ’90s were where so much world-beating Scottish music got its first exposure. Then he created the beloved Iain Anderson late-night show, whose listeners knew him affectionately as The Professor. He also got the chance to pay tribute to his heroes with high-profile documentaries on Lou Reed, Jimmy Webb, The Who, Jackson Browne, American Punk and more.

Aside from his radio work, Stewart was a pillar of the support network for musicians in Scotland. Presented with an opportunity to stand up for music, he would give his time, his passion and his enormous knowledge freely. One such organisation was Burnsong.

Burnsong existed for a few years in the noughties and set in motion some fantastic music. It brought songwriters together – in the Songhouse, a residential retreat – giving them the time and space to create. It birthed the collaborative band The Burns Unit (featuring Karine Polwart and King Creosote amongst its members), as well as a multitude of fine songs (the Teenage Fanclub single Baby Lee to name but one). It also gave opportunities to songwriters whose voices were yet to be heard.

So when Burnsong reached the end of its road, it was decided that a sum of money left over should be put to a use that would further the project’s aims. And thus the Stewart Cruickshank Bursary was born.

With the blessing and support of Stewart’s widow Lorraine, and the guiding hand of Gill Maxwell at the Scottish Music Centre, a crack team was assembled, covering music-making, recording, teaching, management and broadcasting. Criteria were decided upon, to make the award as open as possible, and to target those whose songwriting is yet to make an appearance in the wider world. Folk for whom some guidance, some workshopping, and some recording time could help them move forward into a life of songwriting. The prize for the entry judged to be the most promising will be a package, containing all of the above elements, carefully put together to best benefit the winner’s specific needs.

So if you think that you might have a way with songwriting, we want to hear from you. All it takes to enter is a recording of a song (home-made, live, whatever) that demonstrates your craft. By song, we just mean a piece of music with lyrics – it could be folk, it could be pop, it could be hip hop. That and an artist statement: no more than three hundred words on what you do, where you are with it, and where you want to go.

We’re open for entries now – but not for long. We want entries to be spontaneous and passionate, but also to demonstrate a degree of thoughtfulness about what you’re trying to achieve.

Just one week to go: the gate comes down at 6pm on Friday the 12th of April. We very much look forward to hearing what comes in.

(The Stewart Cruickshank Bursary:

Deadline for applications: Friday 12 April, 6pm

One winner will be chosen by a panel consisting of Emma Pollock, David Scott, David Francis, Kim Edgar, Ronnie Gurr, Gill Maxwell and Richard Bull.)

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