THE road to Glastonbury Festival can be a long one for many performers – but few have experienced that as literally as Emerging Talent Competition winner Lewis McLaughlin.

The Scottish singer-songwriter earned his place at Worthy Farm by winning the competition in Pilton, Somerset, after a 390-mile car journey at the end of April. 

The thousands of budding musicians who entered the competition, which gives up-and-coming artists the chance to compete for their place at the festival, were whittled down to a longlist of 90 in March. 

Eight finalists were then selected to perform for festival co-organiser Emily Eavis, Glastonbury stage bookers, and other music business professionals at Pilton Working Men’s Club at the end of April.

After getting Pilton 'bouncing', Lewis, 20, was announced as this year's winner, earning him a Sunday afternoon slot on the Acoustic Stage.

He will also perform at The Rabbit Hole on Thursday afternoon before appearing on the BBC Music Introducing stage on Friday.

His success in the Emerging Talent Competition also won him a £5,000 talent development prize from the PRS Foundation. 

Speaking to the County Gazette about the competition, Lewis said: “It was a pretty wild experience.

“I’m up in Glasgow, that’s where I’m based, and my whole band are up here.

“We had to get up at five in the morning and drive down to Somerset, so we were all pretty knackered, but the anticipation and pressure on that day was like I’ve never felt before.

“The talent in that room was ridiculous. It’s fair to say that I was quite nervous.”

Lewis chose to perform two songs from his debut album, Feel The Ground You Walk Upon, for the judges: ‘Whole’ and ‘Summer’.

“I barely even remember playing the first song, it was just a bit of a blur,” he admitted. 

“I sung my heart out, and then winning was incredible. Very unexpected but welcomed, of course.”

He will be joined on the Acoustic Stage by an eclectic selection of bands and artists including Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott, The Undertones, Scouting For Girls, Tony Christie, and Suzanne Vega.

“I’m so excited,” said Lewis.

“The line-up is great, there’s loads of total legends and some really cool people playing on the same stage as me.

“I can’t wait to get up there and sing my heart out again in a different environment.

“There’s always that extra pressure when it’s a competition, but this is going to be me just playing for the sheer joy of it.”

Lewis lists Bon Iver, Sylvan Esso, and John Martyn among his musical influences.

A performance on The Other Stage by Bon Iver, an American indie-folk group founded by singer-songwriter Justin Vernon, is one of Lewis’s Worthy Farm highlights.

The band had just released their debut album For Emma, Forever Ago, featuring lead single ‘Skinny Love’.

Lewis said: “I remember watching that and being really inspired by it.

“It was just after his (Vernon’s) breakthrough album, and I thought it was amazing – he’s just got so much talent.

“I was thinking how I’ve just brought out my first album and how amazing it is that I’m playing at Glastonbury just after that came out.”


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Lewis - whose parents were once a folk duo - released his first album in March, with many of the songs based on his experiences after finishing school and moving away from home.

“I didn’t go to university or anything – I was a bit all over the place, to be honest,” he said.

“I was quite unsure of myself in terms of my career and socially, too. I was just kind of working things out a lot.

“I think I used songwriting as a way to understand stuff that was going on. There’s lot of uncertainty in the album, but throughout it I’m finding meaning and reasons to connect with other people.”

He will bring songs from the album including ‘Wolf in the Woods’, ‘Hollows’, and ‘.Wav’ to Somerset later this month.

“Glastonbury’s just the big one, isn’t it?”, he said.

“It’s not something I’d expected to do this early on in my career. It’s such a big deal.

“I’ve really noticed that in other people’s reactions to me playing there, too. People in the scene are amazed that I’m doing it, so that’s cool.”

Lewis and the other Emerging Talent Competition finalists will perform at Glastonbury Festival between Wednesday, June 22 and Sunday, June 26.

Festivalgoers can learn more about the line-up and stage times HERE.