Te yn y Grug (Tea in the Heather), is the new concept album by award winning Welsh singer / songwriter Al Lewis, critically acclaimed for both his solo work and also as half of Americana duo Lewis and Leigh. The lyrics for Te yn y Grug (written by Karen Owen and Cefin Roberts) were inspired by iconic Welsh author Dr Kate Roberts’ series of short stories of the same name, which this year celebrated its 60th anniversary since first publication in 1959.
Regarded widely as the Queen of Welsh Language Literature, Dr Kate Roberts' work drew heavily on her own surroundings and upbringing in the small village of Rhosgadfan on the foothills of Moel Tryfan in Gwynedd, North Wales. The Te yn y Grug stories centre around the lives of three young girls Begw, Winni and Mair growing up around the turn of the 20th century in the Slate mining communities of North West Wales - universal tales of growing up, loss, poverty, religion, community and belonging.
The genesis of the album came about when Lewis was commissioned in 2018 to write the music for the National Eisteddfod of Wales’ Te yn y Grug choral musical. The songs which make up this album were first performed as part of the hugely successful show of the same name at the 2019 National Eisteddfod in Llanrwst. Tickets for that performance sold out within hours of going on sale making it the fastest selling show in the Eisteddfod's history.
It was Lewis’s first ever foray into writing music for a choir and one that he really enjoyed. Keen to ensure that there would be some testament to the music he had written and for the songs to live on after the Eisteddfod show, Al recorded the album over an intense but joyous 5-day period at Sain Studios in North Wales during August 2019 with an array of talented musicians and members of the Eisteddfod Choir.