Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
His work in any single strand of the arts would make Philip King worthy of acclaim but the sheer breadth of his achievements make him truly outstanding.
He first came to public attention in the late 1970s as one of the founder members of highly innovative folk-rock band Scullion. Even at that early stage he was drawing on a range of influences and fusing them to make music that was distinctly Irish yet recognisably international.
The scope of his vision has never been limited by either geography or art form and his own range of skills and activities evidence a protean talent.
Musician, film producer and director, music producer, songwriter, event promoter, festival organiser, radio and TV broadcaster are all roles Philip has filled with distinction during his long and varied career.
A former member of The Arts Council of Ireland, his achievements in broadcasting since the 1980s have been extraordinary and range from The Full Set, a series on Irish traditional music, through documentaries on classical violinist Nigel Kennedy and novelist John McGahern, through to the ground-breaking Sé Mo Laoch series for TG4 television channel which documented and celebrated the lives and achievements of some of Ireland's greatest traditional musicians.
The relationship between Philip and his radio audience for The South Wind Blows can only be described as intimate. That series has introduced Irish radio listeners to such a kaleidoscopic variety of musical genres broadcast from the westernmost tip of the Dingle peninsula.
An even greater triumph, perhaps, is Other Voices. This truly unique ongoing musical happening has attracted artists as diverse as Glenn Hansard, Jarvis Cocker, Damian Rice, Amy Winehouse and Hozier to play for free to tiny audiences in an even tinier church in Dingle.
This programme has turned Dingle into a global cultural beacon thanks to the reach of new social media and web platforms. For instance, Hozier’s performance of Take Me to Church quickly racked up more than 2.5 million views on YouTube making him a star in America almost overnight.
No greater tribute can be paid to these programmes than the words of award-winning author Joseph O’Connor:
“The South Wind Blows is, for me, the finest music programme anywhere in the world, regularly exploring the cross-pollinations of Irish and American music, and his television show Other Voices has brought a whole generation of musicians to the town of Dingle in County Kerry and from there to the world. He is a powerhouse, a cultural leader, and a reminder that some of the greatest things Irish people have ever done have been in the dreamfields of the imagination.”
Author, Joseph O'Connor
The American Chamber Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Philip to particularly recognise his enormous and outstanding contribution to the cultural relationship between Ireland and the United States.
That contribution is perhaps most manifest in his award winning TV series “Bringing It All Back Home”, which introduced a whole new audience on both sides of the Atlantic to the amazing comingling between Irish and American music which has so enriched the cultural life of both countries.
In the words of President of Ireland Michael D Higgins, “His work on the ground-breaking Bringing It All Back Home and, more recently, Other Voices and South Wind Blows, has played an essential part in bringing Irish music to America and to the wider world. It has also enabled a deeper understanding of how openness to new perspectives and influences can so enhance our music as it evolves from generation to generation.”
Joseph O’Connor adds: “Bringing It All Back Home, that great documentary made by Philip, changed our understanding of Irish music and its relationship to American music. It was a hugely influential and important series, as was the book based on it – written by Philip’s wife, the equally wonderful Nuala O’Connor. They realised that Irish music might have disappeared if it hadn’t gone to America. When Irish emigrants brought their music with them to America it started to be written down and recorded for the first time. And then the music came back to Ireland as bluegrass, country and other forms. The music keeps going back and forth across the Atlantic to this day and Philip has brought to our attention the hugely mutually supportive relationship that exists between Irish and American culture. Philip's work is powerful testament to the fact that, yes, the Atlantic divides, but it also connects. How blessed we are to have had him captain our back-and-forth ship!”
A true internationalist, Philip was chosen by the organisers of President Higgins’s State Visit to the UK to curate the wonderful Ceiliúradh concert in the Royal Albert Hall. Something special happened that night which Philip later described as “a dispersed Irishness that was pulled together by a remote bonding that is called music.”
His vision goes beyond artistic, cultural, and geographic boundaries. He has become a passionate advocate for a concept he calls STEAM – the fusion of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) with the arts.
He believes there is a world of opportunity waiting to be exploited in the intersection between the artistic and technological worlds – two worlds where Irish people with their natural creativity and flair for innovation can thrive and prosper and where this country can gain an edge on the world.
“Irish people are naturally imaginative, creative and innovative. Bringing STEM and the arts together to create STEAM will offer Ireland a competitive advantage”, says Philip. “But we need to change the way we think and stop stigmatising failure. People are very vulnerable when they are starting a business and artists know all about that. Our artists have the ability to break down the walls between silos and create something quite remarkable. We are recognised around the world for our creativity and we need to build on that and the strong links we have to all those people around the world who have left to create something new which we can all be proud of.”
“This Lifetime Achievement Award is a recognition of Philip’s ongoing contribution to Ireland’s culture and music; a contribution for which we, as a nation, are greatly indebted.”
President Michael D. Higgins sums the achievements of Mr. Philip King