The search is about to begin for a new female musical star – to be crowned the first ever Maiden of Music.
An invitation is going out for female singers and musicians of every age and style, from all across the country, to come to Dumfries to take part.
The competition is part of the Maidens of Music festival which celebrates and encourages women to make the most of their musical talents.
More than 150 women, including soloists, groups and choirs are expected to participate in the festival, which takes place in Dumfries during every Saturday in May.
The festival was run as a one-off last year, but was so popular that organisers Carol Brotherston, Jo Blain and Linzie Watson, decided to stage it again – and came up with the idea of adding in a competition to find the best performer.
Carol, a professional piano teacher, said: “We are searching for top female musical talent. It’s a great chance for women to come along and show what they can do – with the winner being crowned the 2017 Maiden of Music.”
The festival came about because Carol and her friends believe that with a bit more encouragement and support there are many more women who would really enjoy getting involved with the world of music.
She said: “We love going out to hear live music, but what really struck us was how few female musicians and performers you see out there. And in my work I know that it’s not through lack of talent, but I do think it can often be lack of confidence.
“So what we want to do is to celebrate those who perform, empower women to take to the stage, nurture those who are developing, provide a friendly platform and inspire those who have never tried.
“Last year was great, but this time the whole festival will be bigger, louder, more fun and even more inspirational.”
This weekend the festival kicks off with a whole variety of acts of all types and ages performing at Hugo’s Bar in Bank Street. They include The Sing It Choir, from Aberdour, Ellie McConnachie (a 12-year-old singer, pianist and guitarist), trad musician Emily McLatchie, The Jay Jayz acoustic duo and Cumbrian indie band The Quazars.
Each week will see one Maidens of Music finalist chosen from among the performers. The competition finals will take place on 27 May, with the overall winner receiving a special trophy.
Carol said: “This is a showcase Maidens of Music for female musicians and songwriters all ages and at all stages of their musical career. If you’re a woman who makes music then you can take part. And everyone who loves great music and a festival atmosphere is invited along.”