A hugely talented young Welsh singer who says music is her “family business” sang live on Terry Wogan’s hugely popular BBC Radio 2 show.
Greta Isaac, 20, from Cowbridge, who comes from a long line of famous Welsh musicians, hit the national airwaves during Sir Terry’s Sunday morning programme.
Greta, who sings mainly American-style folk numbers with their roots in the 1970s – most of which are her own compositions – while accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, reckons she can’t believe how lucky she’s been to get such a big break at this stage in her career.
Since last October, Greta has recorded two EPs – Down By The Water and then Oh Babe, the title track of which she showcased on the Wogan show. The also performed a cover of Black Magic by top pop group Little Mix.
Greta said: “Terry Wogan also came in to say hello before the session. He knew all our names and was really kind. It felt like we’d known him for ages.
“It was really nice because everyone at Radio 2 was really welcoming and they made us feel comfortable by bringing in biscuits.
“It was really nerve-racking to think of how many people listen to the show so I had to just forget about all that. The audience for the show is in the millions. We were just in this small room.
“I enjoyed the session and the response to it was great, with lots of people getting in touch afterwards to say how much they liked it.
“Tina Arena was also there doing a set and she was really cool.
“It wasn’t the first time my music has been played on the Wogan show.
“Although it was the first time I’ve performed live on Wogan, my songs have been played about five times now, for which I’m very grateful.
“I also know I’m very lucky to get this chance.
“I was very excited about going on such a high-profile radio show but also quite nervous. It was a lot of fun and a great thing to do so early in my career and I’m very thankful for this lovely opportunity.”
Music is definitely in Greta’s blood – her mother is Caryl Parry Jones, a well-known Welsh singer from Ffynnongroyw, in Flintshire, who is also a songwriter and composer, and her father, Myfyr Isaac, is also a professional musician of note, who works as a sound engineer and arranger and plays jazzy funk numbers on guitar.
Going even further back into her rich musical heritage, Greta’s grandfather was the late and celebrated North Wales musician Rhys Jones, an accompanist and adjudicator who made a name for himself in the concert world as conductor of the famed Gwalia Singers and was also a renowned presenter of the Radio Cymru programme Taro Nodyn and the S4C TV show Dechrau Canu Dechrau Canmol.
Greta herself, who was raised in Cowbridge, took a keen interest in music from a very early age and often performed with family members, including her two older sisters, Elan, 28, and 26-year-old Miriam who is also now a professional singer.
In her teens she started penning her own songs and began to win widespread recognition when her work was featured on social media.
To polish her art she also did plenty of open mic nights and began singing with the local band The People the Poet.
These gigs won her invites to appear at a series of festivals, including Sŵn in Cardiff three years running and Brecon’s Green Man in 2012 when she shared the line-up with rock legend Van Morrison.
Greta has since toured the UK as a session backing vocalist and earlier this year played at the iconic South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.
Last September, she moved from the family home in the Vale of Glamorgan to London while she successfully completed a diploma in art and design course at Camberwell College.
She loved London so much that she decided to stay on and now lives full time in the city as she develops as a professional musician.
“I’d describe my style as folk but not of the traditional English kind – it’s more sort of old Americana mingled with some Irish melodies and influenced by people like James Taylor and Rufus Wainwright,” she said.
“When I perform live, there have been comparisons with the 70s folk scene and someone was even kind enough to describe my style as Joni Mitchell-esque.
“My family music background has also had a big influence on me and I love to sing and play with both my sisters as often as I can.
“Music was very much a part of my life when I was growing up and, indeed, you could say it’s sort of a family business for us.
“We help each other out in different ways as we perform and music brings us all together.”
“Right now I’m writing every day and looking towards a new release, experimenting with different sounds and working on my own and with other people.
“I know my family are proud of me and they think what I’ve done so far has been quite cool. I know there’s a lot of hard work ahead of me though but I can’t imagine doing anything else”.