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Lauren Laverne: “I certainly hope that people are starting to understand and appreciate the value of songwriting.”

Ahead of The Ivors this week, host Lauren Laverne shares her excitement on celebrating the “best of the best.”

Lauren Laverne enjoyed a stellar first year as host of the Ivor Novellos last year. But she actually experienced her first dose of The Ivors’ unique magic the year before, when she was announced as the new host while giving Paul Gambaccini an award to mark his remarkable 34- year stint as The Ivors’ presenter.

“I remember standing backstage with Joan Armatrading,” Laverne laughs. “And I said, ‘God, Joan, I’m so nervous, it’s such big shoes to fill’. And she just went, ‘Well, you wear shoes, don’t you?’ She gave me a fantastic pep talk. If you’ve been instructed by Joan Armatrading to just go for it and enjoy it, you’ve got to obey. So, I did!”

Laverne’s first year at the helm certainly produced some wonderful moments, particularly Sting’s induction as an Academy Fellow (“Bob Geldof’s speech has given us something to live up to this year!”). But she was also thrilled to witness the ceremony’s uniquely supportive atmosphere, and the joy of seeing compositions and creatives from all sides of the music industry being acknowledged.

“It’s very special, because you have such a sense of The Ivors’ history,” she says. “But it’s also plugged into everything that’s happening now and you’ve got the most talented creative people working at the moment in that room with you. It’s the best of the best in every field.”

Laverne also presents on BBC Radio 6 Music’s breakfast show, The One Show and Desert Island Discs and has been a champion of great songwriting throughout her career (she was also a pretty decent writer herself back in the Kenickie days).

She lists her songwriting inspirations as ranging from Randy Newman (“Such a clever, funny, interesting songwriter”), Joni Mitchell (“One of the great geniuses”) and Sir Paul McCartney (“I love his veneration of the domestic”) through to cutting edge names such as Sault and Inflo.

So, it’s no surprise to hear her advocating for the industry and society in general to acknowledge the contribution of songwriters. “Ever since downloading, we’ve been having this conversation about the value of music, musicianship and artistry,” she says. “But anxieties about AI have brought that conversation into the mainstream, and made people understand these things a bit more. I certainly hope that people are starting to understand and appreciate the value of songwriting.”

Laverne is excited at the prospect of meeting Bruce Springsteen, who will become the first international songwriter to be made a Fellow of the Academy at this year’s ceremony. But, as far as she’s concerned, all the creatives in the room are winners. “Ultimately, music is not sport,” she says. “It’s not about who goes the fastest or gets the most goals. Music is an art form. And it’s about those intangible things that are more difficult to measure: feelings and connections”.

“Songwriters help us express who we are, as individuals, as a country, as a culture,” she adds. “And the people who do that really well, their success is not measured in record sales. It’s measured in their influence, their impact, and their cultural footprint.”

Which brings us back to shoes. And, luckily, in Lauren Laverne, the Academy has found a presenter who’s the perfect fit for The Ivors.

The Ivors with Amazon Music takes place on 23rd May 2024 at Grosvenor House, London.


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