There was quite a surprise in store for classically trained violinist Gaynor Sutcliffe when she was invited to attend the British Country Music Awards ceremony at a packed Concorde Club at Heathrow.
Not only were the Clitheroe-based Swing Commanders, now recognised as Europe’s premier Western swing quintet, nominated for the award of Entertainers of the Year, but the band’s multi-instrumentalist Gaynor was also proposed as 2011’s Musician of the Year.
The nomination was in recognition of Gaynor’s leading role in The Swing Commanders’ recent successes across Britain, America, Holland, Belgium, France and soon, no doubt, Spain, where they have been invited to perform at the prestigious Gijon Film Festival.
Though competition was fierce – including fellow Swing Commander Simon Brady, who won last year’s award – Gaynor was chosen for her outstanding ability on not only violin but also piano accordion, keyboard, double bass and even trombone!
When the judges also took into account her solo and harmony vocals, not to mention a touch of Hollywood in her intricate tap dancing routines, perhaps they had little choice but to pick as winner a female artiste of such outstanding talent in what has, for many years, been very much a male-dominated competition.
Not that Gaynor has neglected her classical training, as she still runs the Sutcliffe String Quartet and is a regular member of the Pennine Trio. However, as The Swing Commanders have gradually moved away from the country music scene to specialise in the Swing sounds of the 1940s, she has also established the jazz-based trio, the Three Musikateers.
Also with a husband and six-year-old daughter, Maisie, to look after, Gaynor clearly believes in keeping busy and the BCM award of Musician of the Year 2011 is a fine accolade for this outstanding Ribble Valley artiste.