SAY Award road to Stirling in focus as ceremony draws near

For fans of Scottish music, all eyes are turned to Stirling this month with the 2023 Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award due to be handed out in the city for the second year in a row.

Interior of the Albert Halls at the 2022 SAY Award
The SAY Award ceremony is returning to Stirling after being held at the Albert Halls in 2022.

Paolo Nutini – whose seminal 2006 debut album, These Streets, has been announced as the winner of the 2023 Modern Scottish Classic Award – is among the shortlisted artists with his fourth studio album Last Night in the Bittersweet.

The ceremony, which takes place on Thursday 26 October at Stirling’s iconic Albert Halls, will see a celebration of Scotland’s brightest musical talent. The award was won last year by Dollar artist, Fergus McCreadie with his album, Forest Floor.

The return of the ceremony to Stirling is also a massive endorsement of the city’s diverse music scene and cultural credentials, with many of the shortlisted artists having previously performed at Tolbooth Stirling.

Acts such as Andrew Wasylyk, Brìghde Chaimbeul, Cloth and Hamish Hawk have all taken to the stage at the venue in recent years.   Hamish Hawk will also headline this year’s All Ages ‘Hogmanay at The Halls’ event at The Albert Halls.

Paolo Nutini(Image Credit: Hans-Peter Van Velthoven)
Paolo Nutini's is on this year's shortlist while his 2006 album These Streets will also be honoured (Image Credit: Hans-Peter Van Velthoven)

Recognition of Stirling's thriving live music scene

Stirling Council Leader, Cllr Chris Kane said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to be welcoming the SAY Award back to Stirling this year. This event is a celebration of the great and good of Scotland’s music industry and underlines Stirling’s reputation as a place where arts and culture can thrive. We remain resolute in our efforts to champion the creative and cultural output of the area.

“The SAY Award ceremony taking place here again is also recognition of Stirling’s thriving live music scene with the Albert Halls and Tolbooth among the best venues in the country.

“If you haven’t got a ticket yet, make sure you don’t miss out on a marvellous opportunity to witness the most exciting artists in the country right now.”

Fergus McCreadie, 2022 SAY Award winner and performer at this year’s ceremony said, “I’m really looking forward to opening The SAY Award Ceremony at The Albert Halls in Stirling later this month. I missed the ceremony last year when I won so it will be really special to come back this year and perform for a room full of amazing Scottish artists and music fans.

“It’s great to see national music awards head to venues outside the Central Belt and it’s a really exciting SAY Award Shortlist this year so I can’t wait to see who wins!”

An outstanding year of music

Robert Kilpatrick, Interim CEO and Creative Director of the Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA) said, “This year’s SAY Award Shortlist is a fantastic representation of the strength and diversity of Scottish music, with some of the biggest artists in the UK on the list as well as exciting newcomers and trailblazers.

“The SAY Award’s second year in Stirling is looking like one of our most exciting ceremonies yet. We’re delighted to have 2022 winner Fergus McCreadie back to open the show, with an epic DJ set from TAALIAH to close. We’re especially looking forward to celebrating this year’s Modern Scottish Classic Award, which was recently announced as Paolo Nutini’s ‘These Streets’ as well as revealing the winner of The Sound of Young Scotland Award, an award created to support emerging musicians.

“Last year’s Ceremony was one of our biggest and best yet with music fans joining together with the industry to celebrate the country’s musical output so we can’t wait to return to the Albert Halls – especially with the venue’s recent accolade; named as one of the best music venues in the UK by TimeOut. We’ll have artists from Scotland’s past, present and future gracing the stage at the Albert Halls as some of the country’s biggest music stars come together to celebrate and toast to an outstanding year of music. We hope to see you there!”

Fergus McCreadie
Fergus McCreadie, who won the 2022 SAY Award for his album, Forest Floor, will perform this year.

SAY Award ceremony host Nicola Meighan said, “Back in 2012, when I was a rock and pop writer for the Herald, one of the most exciting stories I covered was the launch of the Scottish Album of the Year Award. It had been a long time coming: the country’s brilliant, wild and diverse musical output has always made reverberations, round the corner and round the world, and a national prize devoted to the soundtracks of our days and nights - and the LP as an art form - felt like a hugely welcome addition to our cultural calendar.

'Incredible gigs at the Albert Halls'

“Since then, I’ve been a SAY Award nominator, a judge, and - for the past seven years - co-host of the event with my BBC Radio Scotland colleague Vic Galloway. 

“It’s always been a joy to be a part of the award, but after stints in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Paisley, I was particularly delighted that the SAY Award touched down in my home town of Stirling last year. I grew up in Causewayhead, went to Wallace High, and as a music obsessive even then, I can’t imagine how excited I’d have been to hear that some day we’d all be at the Albert Halls for one of the country’s biggest and most significant music events. I’m thrilled that we’ll be back this year.

"Over the decades, I’ve seen so many incredible gigs at the Albert Halls, from local battle of the bands gigs in the 1990s, via electro trailblazer Squarepusher, indie legends the Delgados (who were instrumental in the launch of the SAY Award), Scottish rock melodists The Silencers, rap star Tinchy Stryder, a really special lockdown gig in the car park from punk-folk poet James Yorkston - not to mention Glasgow rodeo crooner Sydney Devine. As a fiddle-playing school kid, I used to rehearse with the Strathspey and Reel Society up the stairs in the Lesser Hall. There was a welcoming platform for all of this music - from trad-folk to techno - in that venue; as there is every year on the SAY Award longlist. We’re a nation of eclectic voices; our collective taste in music is gloriously wide-ranging (and excellent, of course). And it’s not confined to the cities: it’s everywhere."

The SAY Award Shortlist for 2023 in alphabetical order is:

Andrew Wasylyk Hearing the Water before Seeing the Falls
Becky Sikasa Twelve Wooden Boxes
Bemz Nova’s Dad
Brìghde Chaimbeul Carry Them With Us
Brooke Combe Black Is the New Gold
Cloth Secret Measure
Hamish Hawk Angel Numbers
Joesef Permanent Damage
Paolo Nutini Last Night In The Bittersweet
Young Fathers Heavy Heavy

The five finalists for The Sound of Young Scotland Award (supported by Help Musicians, Youth Music Initiative and Youth Music) have also been revealed; an award designed to support the next generation of Scottish talent and give the winner the means to create their debut album.  In alphabetical order: Danny Cliff, Pearling, Pippa Blundell, No Windows and Queen of Harps.

Music fans were given 72 hours to ‘have their SAY’ and vote for their favourite Longlisted album to secure a place on the Shortlist, with Paolo Nutini ‘Last Night in the Bittersweet’ revealed as this year’s public vote winner. The 9 remaining Shortlisted albums were chosen by The SAY Award Judging panel.