From education to employment

Chester student strikes a chord with her writing to win top award

A University of Chester student has scooped a hotly-contested writing accolade which earned a presentation at a star-studded festival.

Emma Hughes, a third year English Language with Journalism student, has won the prestigious Wilko Johnson Writing Award for Young Writers after her words proved a hit with the judges.

The 20-year-old stood out among the entries to be awarded first place for her piece on the future of music in an age of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The article is a heartfelt appeal to stand up to music-making algorithms and fight for the heart and soul of human creativity.

The annual Award was presented at the Louder Than Words music-themed literary festival in Manchester, this November, which also welcomed the likes of: Ian Broudie of The Lightning Seeds; record producer Trevor Horn; Don Powell of Slade; Steve Norman of Spandau Ballet; Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne; Horace Panter of The Specials; Eddie Piller, founder of Acid Jazz Records; Nick Banks of Pulp, and former Sex Pistol, Glen Matlock.

Emma, from Seattle in the US, said:

“I really am honoured to receive an award like this. It has absolutely made my year, and I still can’t wrap my head around it. I’ve met a lot of dedicated and lovely people because of the Award, and I cannot thank Louder Than Words enough for their kindness and support.”

The 2023 Wilko Johnson Writing Award for Young Writers, is run by the Louder Than Words Festival, in partnership with Northern Gravy, Louder Than War, Omnibus Press and the University of Huddersfield.

This year, budding writers were invited to submit a 500-word piece, in response to the question of: ‘What do you predict for the worlds of music, and music writing, in an age of AI?’

Emma follows in the footsteps of a number of students from the University of Chester who have won the coveted Award, named after the Dr Feelgood guitar hero. 

Emma’s prizes included entry to the Festival, an enviable collection of music books, and her article being published on the rock journalism website, Louder Than War, the Louder Than Words website and by Northern Gravy, which is dedicated to bringing to light the excellence of new writing.

Dr Jill Adam, Festival Director, Louder Than Words Festival, said:

“It’s always a real honour to welcome the next generation of music writers to our Festival. This year is no exception with the winning entries being particularly strong. We always set a pertinent and relevant challenge and Emma approached this year’s theme with thoughtfulness, creativity and sensitivity. It was a pleasure to welcome Emma to Louder 2023, to add her to our roster of talented winners of our Wilko Johnson Writing Award, and to support young aspiring and inspiring writers more generally. Congratulations.”

Dr Matt Davies, Senior Lecturer in English Language at the University of Chester, also applauded Emma’s success:

“We’re delighted that Emma agreed to allow us to reproduce this award-winning piece in C.E.L.L.MATES, the magazine written by students from the University’s English department. It resonates with those of us who have reservations about the use of AI in music composition and in education in general, and it’s beautifully written. As a regular attender at the Louder Than Words Festival – and a participant on a panel as an alleged ‘Fall expert’ with former members of the band when they launched their books a few years ago – I can vouch for the fact this is probably the most celebrated annual music writing event in the UK, if not the world. Emma has always been a valuable, and consistently enthusiastic member of our English Language classes, and we sincerely hope she continues to publish more of her writing once she graduates.”

Dr Simon A. Morrison, Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader for Music Journalism at the University, added:

“I have been involved with the Louder Than Words music / literary festival for over a decade now, and our students are always involved with every edition. This year I wrote the subject for the Wilko Johnson Writing Award, flagged it to our students, and was subsequently delighted that the three judges independently all settled on Emma’s article as the winner. Congratulations.”

To read Emma’s award-winning article, please visit here
For more information about the Louder Than Words Festival, visit here

Photo Credit Phillip-Solomonson

Related Articles