Cultural Life: Cerys Matthews, singer

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The Independent Culture

Music: I recently discovered country and blues musician Jessie Mae Hemphill, who died a few years ago. I've also been listening to Precious Bryant. I love Micah P Hinson, Lucas Renney, Villagers and Willie Dixon.

Books: I'm reading 'Kill your Friends' by John Niven about a year in the life of A&R man Steven Stelfox. Seen from the perspective of the world's record industry in the 1990s, it's told through the eyes of this character who's just the worst. The drug taking, orgies, back-stabbing and lack of morals. I'm also reading 'The Thames: England's River' by Jonathan Schneer. And a blues dialect dictionary called 'Barrelhouse Words' by Stephen Calt. It's good for looking up various words you often hear in blues songs, such as "jelly roll" and "head rag hop". I'm reading 'Ulysses and Us: the Art of Everyday Living' by Declan Kiberd, an inspired reclamation of Joyce's great novel.

Opera: The first opera I saw was at the Royal Opera House, which was 'The Barber of Seville'. The main soprano was in a wheelchair, and the main tenor had a cold, so he was miming whilst someone on the side of the stage was singing for him. It was bizarre! I then went with a friend to see 'Lucia di Lammermoor' at the English National Opera, which was brilliant. I think opera is something I'll have to keep trying.

Television: I watch box sets of television series including lately 'Mad Men', 'The Sopranos' and 'Band of Brothers'. I also saw 'Jazz'- a Film by Ken Burns' about the history of jazz music in America. But I don't really watch much TV because I hate the adverts.

Cerys Matthews is a member of the judging panel for the Sony Reader Award for Unpublished Writers, a newly created ebook category in this year's Dylan Thomas Prize. For more information visit: