Rising indie-folk star Amelia Coburn is itching to hit the studio after completing university…

For Boro-born singer-songwriter Amelia Coburn, the summer of 2020 was set to be big. After completing a degree in Modern Languages (and getting a first from Nottingham), she was eager to put the accent back on her music, nurturing a reputation that saw her nominated for the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards in 2017.

Instead, lockdown.

Graduating in virtual isolation, Amelia found recording studios and venues closed. Plans to release new music – now dominated by her own compositions after a host of well-received covers of classic indie rock – remained on pause. Hopes of ramping up the gigging also had to wait. For now, it’s ‘have ukulele, will travel’; Amelia’s only public performance since February was at the Prague Ukulele Festival late last month. The next booking isn’t until December at Stockton ARC.

Like many in the arts, Amelia has concerns about the future. “You worry about whether the venues will be there, whether the audiences will be there,” she admitted in a phone interview prior to that Prague trip. “I’m sure that audiences will come back, but what happens if people get out of the habit of going to gigs? How quickly will people want to get back to small, intimate venues?

“Speaking with you on the phone today is the first time I’ve spoken to someone outside of my household for a long time and I think a lot of people will be finding it a bit weird to go back into the world again after getting used to their own space. I’m sure it will be fine in the end, but there’s always something in the back of my mind about what might happen to the venues.”

The music is fascinating. Raiding her dad’s record collection from a young age left Amelia with a love of the rock classics. Stripping them down to a voice and a uke, she made her name reimaging the soundworld of ‘Ghost Town’ or ‘Life on Mars ’ in the most unplugged of styles. And those covers are still acclaimed: a performance of the Wedding Present’s ‘My Favourite Dress’ at Dave Gedge’s online ‘From the Edge of the Sofa’ festival was something of a show-stopper, while a joint take on Elton John’s ‘Crocodile Rock’ saw her working with fellow uke star Marc Gallagher.

More recently, she’s discovered her own voice. Self-penned songs reveal a gentle voice, echoes of Nick Drake, with the lost folk legend’s riverine obsessions finding a maritime counterpoint in the likes of ‘In the Arms of Morpheus’ or ‘Song of the Sea Rover’. Since those early songs, Amelia’s style has taken on new influences from her time studying abroad – Paris, Mexico, Russia – and there’s a wealth of new material just waiting to emerge. As the first signs of recovery from lockdown appear, hopefully it won’t be long before local audiences can hear Amelia in person once again.

This story was taken from a feature interview with Amelia Coburn, published as part of the ‘Talking Northeast’ project. You can read the full version here.


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