Dodging A Levels for a debut album, Before We Forgot How To Dream, is already beginning to reap benefits for nineteen year-old singer-songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson, aka SOAK, as she was presented with the 2015 NI Music Prize in Belfast’s Mandela Hall last Saturday evening.
Pipping acts such as And So I Watch You From Afar, A Plastic Rose and Axis Of to the prize, presided over by Oh Yeah Music Centre, a local music pivot, is no mean feat. However Chief Executive Stuart Bailie, is in no doubt which artist deserved the prize;
“There were many great records on the shortlist this year, but we’re delighted that SOAK was the winner.
“It’s a remarkable statement and a milestone for Northern Ireland music. The Sound of Belfast programme has once again shown so much amazing potential from our music makers and SOAK is one of the artists that will take us into the future.”
SOAK is no nineteen year-old pretender; but a teenage musician who sees her songs within and around herself. The sophistication and authenticity of this album, born of teenage frustrations is close to mind blowing given it is a debut. There is calmness in her creations at an age when we are most reckless. She got my vote and is no doubt worthy of the Music Prize this year.
Joining former winners Foy Vance and Robyn G Shiels is just another milestone on what has been an incredible year for SOAK, who seems to have been in the background of the Northern Irish music scene for too long to coincide with her young age. An appearance on Jools Holland earlier this year counts as a triumph for most musicians; coupled with being on the shortlist for the prestigious Mercury Prize, the fate of which will be decided on November 20th, SOAK can affirm that she is making waves in the music arena that has awaited her arrival for years.