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Phillip (Phil) Cunningham


1960 -

Folk musician, composer and record producer. Born in Edinburgh, Cunningham was educated at Portobello High School. He was playing the accordion by the age of three and by sixteen he joined his older brother, Johnny (1957 - 2003), as a member of the band Silly Wizard, which brought them to international attention.

In 1986, Cunningham was invited to join the noted fiddler Aly Bain (b.1945) for his new television series. The partnership proved enduring and the pair have become a mainstay of the BBC's annual Hogmanay celebrations and also performed together at the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999. Other television work includes the documentary series Scotland's Music with Phil Cunningham also for the BBC. Cunningham has also composed theme music for television and film. On the radio he was the regular presenter of Live at the Lemon Tree produced by BBC Scotland in Aberdeen. His albums with Silly Wizard include Caledonia's Hardy Sons (1978), while solo albums include Airs & Graces (1984) and Palomino Waltz (1989). Work with Aly Bain includes The Pearl (1995), Another Gem (2000), Spring The Summer Long (2003) and Roads Not Travelled (2006). Four albums with American folk singer Connie Dover include The Wishing Well (1994) and The Border of Heaven (2000).

Cunningham has grown to become one of the most exciting and innovative accordion players of the modern era. His work was recognised by an MBE in 2002, followed by the award of an honorary degrees by the University of Stirling (2006) and Glasgow Caledonian University (2007). Cunningham was voted Best Instrumentalist in the first Scottish Traditional Music Awards (2003).

He now lives near South Queensferry.


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