HOLLYWOOD actor Rhys Ifans has said lockdown has given him time to ‘rediscover an intimacy with Welsh language music’.

The Mr Nice and Notting Hill star, originally from Ruthin, expressed his joy at having the time to listen back to old favourites and said Welsh language music fundamentally shaped his life, in a conversation with BBC presenter Huw Stephens to celebrate Dydd Miwsig Cymru – Welsh Language Music Day.

Celebrated on Friday, the day looks at all forms of Welsh language music, from indie, rock, punk, funk, folk, electronica to hip hop and everything in between.

It aims to introduce Welsh language music to a new audience, showcasing the artists making waves at home and internationally.

In previous years, Dydd Miwsig Cymru events have taken place across Wales and the world with gigs in Brooklyn, Budapest, Liverpool and London. Due to the pandemic, this year's Dydd Miwsig Cymru saw a schedule of virtual gigs, video and track launches take place on Welsh cultural website and app, AM.

The full one-hour conversation between Huw Stephens and Rhys Ifans, included sets from HMS Morris and 9Bach, a DJ set from Aberystwyth electronic duo Roughion, and the first performance of Eädyth’s soulful new single, Dreaming / Breuddwydio, is just some of the content available on Dydd Miwsig Cymru.

With live shows understandably on hold, a host of Welsh language artists have continued to create during lockdown: artists including Yws Gwynedd, Papur Wal, Al Lewis and Mr Phormula have all recorded and released music over the past year. The day also sees special releases for Dydd Miwsig Cymru, including new music from Glain Rhys, Sister Wives, KIM HON and Alun Reynolds.

Huw Stephens, BBC presenter, said: “Although we’re not able to celebrate Dydd Miwsig Cymru in the usual way this year, the day is still as important as ever as a way of introducing people to the wealth of incredible music being made in Welsh. Music is a constant and, regardless of what is happening in the world, we can always turn to music for comfort, distraction or discovery.

“Get involved in our schedule of free virtual gigs, video and track launches today and experience miwsig for yourself. And all year round, you can press play on one of our specially curated playlists to find some amazing music in the Welsh language.”

Sara Moseley, director of Mind Cymru said: “We know that the pandemic has had a significant impact on people’s mental health in Wales. Being in lockdown for long periods has led to people feeling isolated, lonely and anxious.

“Music is a great outlet for creativity. Whether you are singing, making music yourself or dancing to your favourite artist, music can help you to relax and feel better when you are stressed and anxious. Listening to Welsh artists on Welsh Language Music Day is a great way to discover songs you may never have heard before and support the fantastic musical talent we have here in Wales. We’ve worked with Dydd Miwsig Cymru to create a playlist of relaxing songs in Welsh which is available on Spotify.”

With children currently learning from home, Dydd Miwsig Cymru launched a creative competition for primary school age children across Wales to practice their Welsh language at home while showing off their musical flair.

Ysgol Hip Hop, launched with Welsh rapper Mr Phormula, asked children to write and perform their own rap about what the Welsh language means to them and their area, with the chance of winning £250 for their school. The winner will be announced on Welsh Language Music Day and the winning rap will be aired on S4C’s Stwnsh Sadwrn tomorrow (Saturday 6th February).

Eluned Morgan, the Minister for Mental Health, Wellbeing and Welsh Language, said: “During periods of lockdown, we can all turn to music to help our mental health. Spending time discovering and listening to new artists or adding new Welsh words to our vocabulary from music sung in the language are just some of the ways we can use miwsig to support our wellbeing.

“This year’s Dydd Miwsig Cymru looks different to previous years, but the music plays on and I know the celebration will continue to help people across Wales and the world discover the many incredible artists performing in Welsh.”

This year, Dydd Miwsig Cymru has once again gathered support internationally Welsh-Hungarian news and events blog Magyar Cymru is leading the way curating its own ‘Hwngariaid Ar DMC’ music playlist of the top Welsh language music songs voted for by Hungarian miwsig fans.

Dydd Miwsig Cymru is part of the long-term vision to see a million people speaking and using Welsh by 2050.

For more information, go to: https://gov.wales/welsh-language-music-day