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Cenhedloedd Dan Ddyfroedd/Dammed Nations featuring NubaNour, Sian James and Gai Toms

Debuting in Wales, Cenhedloedd Dan Ddyfroedd/Dammed Nations is a music tour featuring traditional Nubian frame drummers NubaNour from Egypt alongside Welsh singer/harpist Siân James and singer/songwriter Gai Toms for what promises to be enchanting and engaging evening of music and poetry from Wales and Nubia.

The 1960s were an era of rapid social and technological change, which gave rise to an incredible legacy of music, art and cinema that still resound to modern times.  Political decisions and divisions from the same period also continue to shape the current age and in Cenhedloedd Dan Ddyfroedd/Dammed Nations, voices from two seemingly unconnected communities unite on stage to recall the fate of the village of Capel Celyn in North Wales, and that of the traditional Nubian Aswan homelands in Egypt.

The graffiti mural “Cofiwch Dryweryn”/“Remember Tryweryn” became a rallying call for Welsh nationalism during the 1960s after the village of Capel Celyn was drowned to make way for a reservoir for the City of Liverpool, despite widespread public outrage and opposition to the controversial bill from 35 out of 36 Welsh members of Parliament.

During the same period in Egypt, 120,000 Nubian people lost their villages and ancestral homelands when the Aswan High Dam resulted in the creation of Lake Nasser, one of the world’s largest man-made reservoirs. Fifty years later, the environmental and social impacts of the High Dam are still felt amongst those who were displaced.

The Cenhedloedd Dan Ddyfroedd/Dammed Nations concert will feature solo sets by each of the participating artists along with a collaboration featuring contemporary folk songs about Tryweryn and the plight of the Nubian people in Egypt.

This project also offers  :-

  • Educational workshops delivered by NubaNour, supported with a comprehensive resources package designed specifically for the project by the WOMAD Foundation.
  • The release of the debut NubaNour album supported by full marketing and publicity services, including a cover version of The Manic Street Preachers song “Ready for Drowning”
  • A selection of specially commissioned images for display at venues either for publicity purposes or as a backdrop to the stage show.
  • A bi-lingual (Welsh and English) promo video featuring archive Pathe News coverage from the time of the Tryweryn dam construction, scenes from the flooding of the Upper Nile at Aswan, interviews with the artists and the rehearsals in Theatr Mwldan.
  • Comprehensive marketing packages.
  • A Questions and Answers forum led by Zakaria Ibrahim, Director of the El Mastaba Centre for Egyptian Folk Music.

The project will go on tour throughout Wales and England in Spring 2014, 1-21 March.

See also for the latest news and full details of the project.


The creation of the Cenhedloedd Dan Ddyfroedd/Dammed Nations collaborative show is funded by Arts Council Wales.


NubaNour are a Cairo-based collective of Nubian singers and master frame drummers, performing traditional music, sacred & secular rites and contemporary songs reflecting the ongoing struggles of life in exile after the loss of their Aswan homelands in the 1960s during the construction of the High Dam.

Their stage show features call and response vocals accompanied by the Oud and Tar Frame Drum, thought to possess a mystical ability to evoke the sound of fire, water and air – it’s traditional circular construction from palm bark and goat skin said to creating an unending union between the Nubian people and their environment. Dance also plays a central role in the band’s performances with a unique Nubian dance called Frry representing the movement of Balti fish swimming through the waves of the Nile.

Siân James is the most celebrated and modern of traditional singers in Wales.

Siân has to date released nine albums of her work – four Albums on Sain Records, Birdman for BBC Worldwide (a special commission of original and traditional music for BBC 2), Pur (Pure), Y Ferch o Bedlam (The Girl from Bedlam), Adar ac Anifeiliaid (Birds and Animals- a collection of Welsh nursery rhymes for children), and more recently Cymun (Communion) on her own label Recordiau Bos.

Siân has toured extensively for many years, playing concerts in countries as far as Japan and the US as well as all over Europe. Last year, Siân took part in an extensive theatre tour of Holland with the renowned Irish folk band Dervish.

“Music has always been an inextricable part of my life. I was surrounded by music from a very early age and soon began learning the piano, violin and harp. I began composing and creating my own arrangements of traditional songs, and discovered that improvising and creating at the piano and harp brought me enormous enjoyment.

My love of traditional music has now become an integral part of my very being and even though I have a great love of all kinds of music, traditional songs have become a wondrous force from which I cannot escape. The songs and music of my country are my haven from the bedlam of life!”

Siân James yw’r amlycaf ymhlith cantorion traddodiadol modern yng Nghymru.

Bellach mae hi wedi rhyddhau naw albym – pedwar gyda chwmni Sain, yr albym Birdman (comisiwn arbennig o gyfansoddiadau gwreiddiol a thraddodiadol i BBC 2), ac yna Pur, Y Ferch o Bedlam, Adar ac Anifeiliaid ac yn ddiweddar Cymun ar ei label, Recordiau Bos.

Bu Sian yn teithio’r byd gyda’i chanu ers blynyddoedd lawer, yn cynnal cyngherddau yn Siapan, Yr Unol Daleithiau, ac Ewrop. Yn ddiweddar bu ar daith lwyddiannus gyda’r grwp gwerin Gwyddelig boblogaidd, Dervish, o gwmpas theatrau mwyaf yr Iseldiroedd.

“Mae cerddoriaeth wastad wedi bod yn ran annatod o’m mywyd. Fe’m magwyd ar aelwyd gerddorol ac yn fuan iawn dechreuais ganu’r piano, y ffidil a’r delyn. Dechreuais gyfansoddi caneuon a chreu trefniannau newydd o ganeuon gwerin a darganfod pleser mawr wrth greu ac arbrofi wrth y delyn a’r piano.

Mae fy nhgariad at ganeuon gwerin yn gynhenid imi erbyn hyn ac er bod gennyf hoffter mawr at bob math o gerddoriaeth erys cerddoriaeth gwerin fel rhyw fath o rym bendigedig nad yw’n bosib dianc rhagddo.Cerddoriaeth fy ngwlad yw fy hafan rhag fedlam bywyd!”

Gai Toms is a true troubadour from the mountains of North Wales. A member of the crazy ska rock band ‘Anweledig’ in the 90’s and folk persona ‘Mim Twm Llai’ through the 00’s, he is presently promoting his second album as Gai Toms titled – BETHEL. Performing mainly in his native tongue – Cymraeg (Welsh), he is regarded as one of Wales’ top songwriters / performers. Language has not stopped him from captivating audiences elsewhere in the UK as well as Europe not to mention his performances in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and SXSW in the U.S.A. Performs solo on guitar or with band.

His early material has been compared to Welsh legend Meic Stevens’, and lately has been described as the ‘Welsh Tom Waits’… though, GT is quite comfortable in his own shoes by now! Musical influences range from Welsh folk, Americana and lashings of pop, rock and latino/caribbean grooves to stir it all up! Gai Toms is always exploring new styles & concepts and descirbes his Welsh sung multi-genre vibes as ‘Brythonicana’ music!

Trwbadwr o bentref Tanygrisiau ynghanol mynyddoedd Eryri yw Gai Toms. Aelod o’r hurt fand Anweledig yn y 90’au, Mim Twm Llai drwy 00’au, rwan mae wrthi’n hyrwyddo ei ail albwm dan yr enw GT o’r enw BETHEL. Mae ei gerddoriaeth wedi cyrraedd mannau eraill o Brydain ac Ewrop hefyd heb son am ei berfformiadau yn y Smithsonian Folklife Festival a SXSW yn yr U.D.

Mae Gai Toms yn hoff o arbrofi efo lleisiau ac arddulliau o bob math, mae’n dibynnu ar natur y gân. Yn aml, mae geiriau yn datgan arddull y gerddoriaeth ac yn tyfu’n naturiol o hynny. Mae pobl wedi cymharu defnydd solo cynnar Gai fel y ‘Meic Stevens nesaf’, yn ddiweddar mae wedi cael ei ddosbarthu fel y ‘Tom Waits Cymraeg’… bellach, mae Gai yn hen ddigon cyfforddus yn ei sgidiau ei hun! Mae arddull cerddorol Gai yn amrywio o werin Cymraeg, Americana gyda chymysgedd iach o roc, pop a grwfs latino / caribiaidd. Mae GT yn hoff o’r term ‘Brythonicana’ i ddisgrifio’i gerddoriaeth.

Sian James/Bob Delyn
Sian James Nosen Lawen
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Cenhedloedd Dan Ddyfroedd/Dammed Nations featuring NubaNour, Sian James and Gai Toms
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