A MUSICIAN who got his start with a Central Fife-based orchestra will be going head-to-head with Harry Styles and Sam Fender for one of the UK’s most prestigious music awards.

Fergus McCreadie was announced last Tuesday as one of the 12 shortlisted artists up for Album of the Year at the 2022 Mercury Prize.

The jazz pianist, who has called the nomination a “huge” moment for the industry in Scotland, is in the running alongside household names to win the competition which aims to recognise the best UK album of the last 12 months.

Previous winners include the Arctic Monkeys, Pulp, and Scottish rock band Franz Ferdinand.

Fergus, who is up for his third album Forest Floor, said the recognition is yet to sink in after receiving a surprise call announcing the news last week.

Speaking to The National, he said: "It's quite intense, It's surprising but it's amazing. And it’s very good for Scotland as well.

"It feels great but it's quite weird. I don't know how much it's actually sunk in at this point yet. It's amazing to have your music validated in that way and put it in amongst such prestigious artists."

Fergus joined the Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra (FYJO) at the age of 12 and played in the band for six years.

Richard Michael, who runs the group which was formerly based in Cowdenbeath and now in Lochgelly, said: "I could see that he had a rare, natural talent for jazz and was a born leader.

"Fergus was given the responsibility of taking rehearsals and calming the fears of new players who had never played an improvised solo before.

"Fergus left FYJO for the Jazz Course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland where he made an immediate impact on the national jazz scene as pianist, composer and bandleader.

"All of us in FYJO wish him every success in his career and in the Mercury Music awards."

The musician has said now is the time for Scottish jazz to "really shine", in the hope that the nomination will "open the floodgates" in providing opportunities across the country.

He added: "To me, this is not really my achievement, you know, it's a Scottish jazz achievement. And it's everyone else around us. I wouldn't be who I was without all of my friends and colleagues in the jazz scene. I really, really hope it can do good things for everyone."

FYJO restarts on Thursday, Spetember 1 at 7pm at the Lochgelly Centre.

The band is open to all youngsters who want to play jazz and there are no auditions.

Richard asked: "Who will be the next Fergus McCreadie?"