JOHN Peel called Laura Cantrell's 2000 album Not The Tremblin’ Kind “my favourite record of the last ten years, possibly my life”.

The American country singer-songwriter with the Nashville birth certificate and New York current address recorded several Peel sessions for the BBC from 2000 to 2004 and appeared on the first Peel Day programme on BBC Radio One commemorating the first anniversary of the influential radio presenter's death.

This week, Laura set out on a British tour in the wake of last Friday's release of Laura Cantrell At The BBC, a collection of On Air Performances and Recordings, 2000-2005, comprising ten songs recorded for Peel's show and two for Radio Two's voice of country, Bob Harris. Several tracks are being issued for the first time and put together they trace Laura's rise as an Americana artist.

She will be forever grateful for John Peel championing her music. "We were lucky to catch his ear; he managed to pull us out of his pile of records and that was a great piece of luck," says Laura, who plays Pocklington Arts Centre tonight. "Once he had formed the opinion that your music was interesting, he was the most supportive and gracious person, giving you an opportunity that changes the scale of what you're doing.

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"Laura Cantrell: "a great piece of luck"

"I never thought I'd get to meet John Peel because I saw him as the top of the chain, and I never realised he had so many generations of listeners and championed so many musicians over the decades, so it was wonderful to have the same opportunity."

That opportunity involved Laura visiting Peel's legendary Suffolk home at Peel Acres to record a session. "On our first visit there, we were escorted to the famous shed with all his records. My husband and I are both record collectors, and any time we go to a house and see a record collection, we're envious, but this was beyond that and was a wonderfully colourful experience, visiting John in the Winter 2001 when we were all wrapped up in our coats," says Laura.

"We'd already done one Peel session at Maida Vale, and so to be invited to Peel Acres on our next visit was beyond my wildest expectations."

The original inspiration to gather Laura's BBC recordings came from her desire to release a 15th anniversary vinyl edition of Not The Tremblin' Kind. "I thought it would be good to include some session tracks from that time, but then I found I had 50 to 60 recordings to choose from, even some on cassette," she recalls. "It was then, as I went through them, I realised they could make an album on their own.

"It was very humbling listening to the songs again, hearing how I gradually gained experience and confidence, as early on I don't sound like I know what I'm doing. I can remember John saying one day, 'Do you know, I think you might finally be getting there', as he didn't pull his punches, and I knew what a wonderful chance he had given me when I was so inexperienced."

York Press:

Laura Cantrell's album sleeve for her BBC sessions

Laura Cantrell At The BBC does not feature her recordings for BBC Radio Scotland, Live At The Barbican and Beyond Nashville or her headline performance at the Cambridge Folk Festival. "They felt different to me, so rather than including them, I concentrated on my BBC radio sessions over a five-year period, which felt more coherent and intimate, though it might be possible to do a follow-up of more recent Bob Harris sessions if we can think of a reason for doing that," she says.

In advance of releasing the BBC sessions and reissuing Not The Tremblin' Kind on the Spit & Polish label last week, both albums were printed on vinyl for Record Store Day on April 16.

"Not The Tremblin' Kind had never been out on vinyl, though two subsequent albums have been, so people kept asking me at shows, 'Do you have this record on vinyl?', and as the vinyl revival doesn't seem to be a passing fad, we're now bringing it out in that format."

If the focus this spring is on reactivating Laura's past recordings, nevertheless her songwriting is "always on-going" as she balances a busy diary that also has taken in working as a high-flying Wall Street executive, doing shifts as a New York radio DJ and raising her daughter.

"I hoped these two albums would come out at the end of last year, but the record label decided to hold them back until this year, and now I'll hopefully be recording in the late-Fall," she says, ahead of performing with Boston bass player Jordan Caress and her "aide de camp", Mark Spencer, at Pock Arts Centre.

"I might have a new song in the show at Pocklington...we might try out a little new thing," she teases.

Laura Cantrell plays Pocklington Arts Centre tonight, 8pm, and Leeds Brudenell Social Club on Tuesday, 7.30pm. Box office: Pocklington, 01759 301547 or at; Leeds,