Dafydd Iwan Biography

24 August 1943, Brynaman, South Wales. Singer-songwriter Iwan was one of four sons born to a non-conformist preacher, who himself came from a family of Welsh poets. Iwan sang in chapel and learned from his mother how to read music. When he was 12, the family moved to the farming community of Llanuwchllyn, near Bala, in North Wales, a contrast to the mining village he had been brought up in. After trying to learn a variety of instruments, he finally settled for the guitar, before going on to study architecture in Cardiff, graduating in 1968. It was during this time that he started writing and singing his own songs, drawing on the influences of singer-songwriters such as Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan. It was also during the mid-60s that he started appearing on Welsh television, releasing his first EP, Wrth Feddwl Am Fy Nghymru (When I Think Of My Wales), in 1966, on the Welsh Teldisc label. In all, between 1966 and 1969, he released eight EPs and two singles, before setting up Sain (Recordiau) Cyf in 1969 with fellow singer Huw Jones, and Brian Morgan Edwards. His 1969 release, ‘Carlo’ was a satire on the Investiture of Prince Charles as the Prince Of Wales.

During the 60s and 70s, Iwan was very active in the non-violent Welsh language campaigns, leading to his imprisonment in 1970. In 1982, he collaborated for the first time with Ar Log to record Rhwng Hwyl A Thaith, an album combining traditional and new material. In 1988 the Dafydd Iwan Yng Nghorwen video was released, documenting a concert held in Corwen, Wales to celebrate Iwan’s 25 years of singing. He is President of Plaid Cymru in North Wales with an ambition ‘to see Wales free in a new Europe of the peoples, a world at peace, and to retire gracefully’. A volume of 152 of his songs was published in 1992, and he is listed in the International Who’s Who. He has been honoured with a Gold Disc for his contribution to Welsh music, and he is an honorary member of the Gorsedd of Bards for his services to the Welsh language. Iwan has sung, both at home and overseas, for over 30 years; his songs reflect the aspirations of the Welsh people, and the Welsh language, and his empathy with the struggles for human rights in other parts of the world.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.