BBC CWR tribute to Gemma Leahy

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BBC CWR tribute to Gemma Leahy


Here is something of another venture into new territory for me in an article for the magazine: telling you about a specific radio broadcast.

You may well have heard it yourselves & you probably are aware that somehow a year has passed since we lost Gemma Leahy.

Every so often I praise the role that BBC Introducing for Coventry & Warwickshire play in helping spread the good news about great local original musical talent, but sometimes it's moments like this when the true depths of the team's grasp of what's going on & their genuine connection to people shine through.

This week featured a special edition playing tribute to Gemma, the centrepiece being an exclusive conversation between host Brody Swain & Gemma's husband Matt Waddell, augmented by appropriate music from both Gemma & Matt & artists they worked with at 14 Records like Kenzie Webley, Matty Coles & Bob Cooper. (You can hear it via this link:

Goodness knows how Matt managed to express himself so articulately & calmly given the obvious depths of his loss, but he did a wonderful job (prompted & supported by the sensitive approach Brody took) of covering so much of Gemma's talents & attributes from her music, her support of other artists and even aspects of their family life which must have been especially hard to share. You really could not have wished for a finer tribute.

As you know, we paid our own tribute in the magazine last year & by dedicating ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Eight' to her memory: I was pleased that Brody played her song "Undeniable" which features on that album.  What you will not have heard before though is Matt's personal expression of love & loss (with a rare vocal from him) "To The Lovers & The Lonely" which also had a play. I leave you to listen to that & respond to it in your own ways as it rather defies adequate description by me.

This shows just how effective BBC local radio can be: Brody, producer Hannah & their team at BBC Introducing for Coventry & Warwickshire have a far more profound interest in & connection with the local scene that either commercial stations aim for nor what apparently the BBC are aiming to do with their local network: one can only hope that someone somewhere recognises the unique nature of such shows & values it. People like Gemma are central to what goes on in local music scenes where there is a genuine interest in nurturing & supporting original talent, but when they are as personally modest & lacking in ego as she was, it takes the best form of media to pick up on what they do. We need this & I think this show epitomises what is possible in top quality broadcasting on a local level by a national organisation.

Brody & Hannah valued Gemma & did her proud by this show: she in turn greatly valued how they supported so many artists with whom she & Matt worked (up to ten appearing on any given show) & if this sort of symbiotic relationship is sometimes taken for granted, it's moments like this when perhaps we need reminding not to do so.

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