Gwenno Saunders

Gwenno Mererid Saunders (born 23 May 1981) is a Cornish-Welsh musician, known by the stage name Gwenno. She performs as a solo artist, releasing her first album Y Dydd Olaf on Heavenly Recordings in 2015 followed by her first album in Cornish in 2018, entitled Le Kov.[1][2] Gwenno Saunders has also been a singer in the indie pop group the Pipettes.

Gwenno Saunders
The Pipettes - Gwennoi.jpg
On stage in 2006
Background information
Birth nameGwenno Mererid Saunders
Born (1981-05-23) 23 May 1981 (age 38)
Cardiff, Wales
GenresElectropop, indie pop
Occupation(s)Musician, singer, dancer
Years active2002–present
LabelsPeski Records, Heavenly Recordings
Associated actsThe Pipettes, The Boy Least Likely To, Pnau, Elton John


Saunders was born in Cardiff.[3] She is the daughter of Cornish poet and linguist Tim Saunders[4] and Lyn Mererid, who is an activist and member of the choir Côr Cochion Caerdydd and works as a translator.[5] When she grew up, her father spoke Cornish; her mother spoke Welsh.[6]

From the age of five she attended the Seán Éireann-McMahon Academy of Irish Dance[7] and was a cast member of Michael Flatley's productions of Lord Of The Dance[8] and Feet of Flames by the age of 17, playing a lead role in a Las Vegas production of the former. In 2001 she had a role in the Welsh language soap opera Pobol y Cwm on S4C, for whom she would later host her own programme Ydy Gwenno'n Gallu...? She is fluent in Welsh and Cornish.[9][10][11] On 18 April 2019 she presented "Songs from the Edgelands", a programme about songs in minority languages on BBC Radio 4.[12]

Music careerEdit

Early career (2002–2004)Edit

In the years before she joined the Pipettes, she had been a solo electropop singer, mostly in the Welsh and Cornish languages, releasing two solo EPs, Môr Hud[13] (2002) and Vodya[14] (2004).[15] Saunders represented Cornwall in the Liet International song contest, 2003, and won the People's Choice Award for her performance of "Vodya". In December 2004 Gwenno filmed the song "Ysolt y'nn Gweinten" by Celtic Legend for Classic FM TV. It is claimed to be the first video produced in the Cornish language, the text having been written by her father Tim Saunders with music by Cornish composer and ex Gary Numan keyboard player Chris John Payne.

The Pipettes (2005–2010)Edit

Gwenno joined the Pipettes in April 2005 after founding member Julia left. She is most notable for her lead vocals on the single "Pull Shapes" and the chorus of "Your Kisses Are Wasted on Me". She has more recently posted solo material to her Myspace page, and made a free download of a mini album titled U & I available in October 2007. In April 2008, Gwenno's younger sister Ani joined the Pipettes, after the departure of singers Rosay and RiotBecki. Ani now also releases music with the band The Lovely Wars and solo under the name Ani Glass.

After the Pipettes (2010–present)Edit

Gwenno has toured as a synth player with Pnau and Elton John in 2012.[16][17]

In June 2012, Saunders released a five-song Welsh language EP, Ymbelydredd, available on hand-painted cassettes on Peski Records.[18]

Gwenno appears on The Boy Least Likely To's 2013 album The Great Perhaps, contributing vocals to the track "It Could Have Been Me".

She released her first solo full-length album, the Welsh-language Y Dydd Olaf, in October 2014 on Peski Records.[19] In May 2015 Gwenno was signed to Heavenly Recordings. The label re-released her debut album in July.[20][21] The album won Best Welsh Album at the 2015 National Eisteddfod[22] and in November 2015 won the 2014–2015 Welsh Music Prize.[23]

Gwenno also currently co-produces and co-hosts a Welsh radio show on Cardiff Radio titled "Cam O'r Tywyllwch" ("A Step Away from the Darkness") with her Peski Records colleagues.[24] The team was also behind the CAM '15 music festival in Cardiff, which took place in April 2015 and featured the first live performance in over 20 years by Welsh music post-punk pioneers Datblygu.[25]

Cultural influenceEdit

In October 2018 the Cornish Language Board claimed that Saunders' album Le Kov had contributed to a 15% increase in the number of people taking Cornish language exams during 2018.[26]

Personal lifeEdit

Saunders is married to the Welsh producer Rhys Edwards,[27] and has one son.[28]


With The PipettesEdit

Year Album Chart positions
2006 We Are The Pipettes 41
2010 Earth vs. The Pipettes

Solo albumsEdit

Year Name Label Format Language
Y Dydd Olaf Peski, Heavenly Digital download, CD, vinyl Welsh, Cornish
2018 Le Kov Heavenly Digital download, CD, vinyl Cornish

Solo EPsEdit

Year Name Label Format Language
2002 Môr Hud Recordiau Sain Digital download Welsh, Cornish, English
2003 Vodya Recordiau Sain Digital download Welsh, Cornish, English
2007 U & I None Digital download English
2012 Ymbelydredd Peski Digital download, cassette Welsh

Appears onEdit

Year Name Additional Information
2003 I'r Brawd Hwdini Compilation of re-recordings of songs by Meic Stevens[29]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Gwenno - Y Dydd Olaf". Discogs. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  2. ^ Empire, Kitty (7 August 2016). "Gwenno review – diversity for the ear". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077.
  3. ^ "Sweeping The Nation: A Friendly Chat With... Gwenno". 7 July 2006. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  4. ^ "Gwenno". BBC Wales. Archived from the original on 21 December 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2008.
  5. ^ Snapes, Laura (8 September 2015). "Gwenno: the ex-Pipette is leading the Welsh-speaking music revival". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  6. ^ Williams, Holly (12 April 2018). "The rebirth of Britain's lost languages". BBC. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  7. ^ [1] Archived 19 August 2003 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Dotty about The Pipettes". Manchester Evening News. 15 February 2007. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
  9. ^ Price, Bernadette. "Gwenno at the Celtic Cafe". Celtic Cafe. Archived from the original on 11 June 2009. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  10. ^ "Gwenno - in tune, in Cornish!". BBC Cornwall. September 2003. Archived from the original on 19 February 2011. Retrieved 6 October 2008.
  11. ^ "Gwenno » Artists". WOMAD. Archived from the original on 23 July 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  12. ^ Radio Times; 13-19 April 2019
  13. ^ "iTunes - Music - Môr Hud - EP by Gwenno". 1 January 2002. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  14. ^ "iTunes - Music - Vodya - EP by Gwenno". 1 January 2003. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  15. ^ "Steddfod yn Stuffy". BBC Cymru Wales (in Welsh). 2003. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  16. ^ Gregory, Amelia (6 September 2012). "Ymbelydredd EP: An interview with Gwenno Saunders". Amelia's Magazine. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  17. ^ "Gwenno". Peski. Archived from the original on 11 August 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  18. ^ "Gwenno — Home". Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  19. ^ "Gwenno / Y Dydd Olaf". Peski. 2014. Archived from the original on 5 July 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  20. ^ Kenneally, Cerys (11 May 2015). "Welsh singer Gwenno signs to Heavenly and releases sci-fi inspired track, "Patriachaeth"". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  21. ^ "HVNLP118 Gwenno 'Y Dydd Olaf'". Heavenly Recordings. 22 June 2015. Archived from the original on 26 July 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  22. ^ "2015 News". The National Eisteddfod of Wales. 8 August 2015. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  23. ^ "Nominees Archives". Welsh Music Prize. Archived from the original on 26 September 2015. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  24. ^ "Cam o'r Tywyllwch". SoundCloud. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  25. ^ "CAM'15". Camfestival.Wales. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 13 August 2015.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  26. ^ "Gwenno 'sparks record numbers' in Cornish exams". BBC News. 20 October 2018.
  27. ^ "Introducing GWENNO | The Electricity Club". Archived from the original on 20 August 2016. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  28. ^ Owens, David (26 November 2015). "Welsh Music Prize Winner named as Gwenno Saunders for sci-fi inspired album". Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  29. ^ "Various - I'r Brawd Hwdini". Discogs. Retrieved 23 April 2019.

External linksEdit