Congratulations are in order for singer, songwriter and guitarist Kelley Deal, who was just announced as the winner of the Q Gibson Les Paul Award at the 2017 Q Awards.

From her work with the Breeders and beyond, Deal has created powerful, inspiring rock music and served as a positive influence for young women looking to get into the music field.

We caught up with Deal to find out what it means to her to be honored with the Q Gibson Les Paul Award.

Kelley Deal by Rob Monk

How has the Les Paul been important in your career?

I first heard the name Les Paul from my dad. My dad is a big music fan. His favorite is Ray Charles, but he also loves the “guitar picking” of folks like Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, Chet Atkins and, of course, Les Paul. I have such a strong memory of the joy with which all those guys played. There wasn’t a “rock hardness.” They played with a spiritual abandon and a camaraderie between musicians. That’s what impresses me most about Les Paul.

Congratulations on winning the Q Gibson Les Paul Award. What does this award mean to you?

Well, thank you! Let me answer that by telling you a story. It’s 1992, N.Y.C. The Breeders are playing CBGB’s in support of our Safari EP. If memory serves, the band Unrest are supporting. (Marvelous band they were!). Anyhow…so, the Breeders take the stage, and there is a woman screaming something over and over and over. She is so loud and relentless that you can hear her before every song, after every song and even during the songs. This goes on the entire night. And this is what she is yelling: ... “PLAY THE LES PAUL.”

Previous Q Gibson Les Paul award winners include U2's Edge, Johnny Marr, Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, John Martyn, Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green, Fairport Convention's Richard Thompson and ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons. How does it feel to be in that company?

Part of me wants to Sheryl Sandberg this s*** with a “Move over boys and lemme lean in!” The other part wants to keep an eye open for the bucket of pig’s blood that I’m expecting to be poured on my head. (Where did I put my tiara?)

The Breeders recently released a new single, "Wait in the Car," and it brings together the original lineup. What was it like getting back together for this single and your reunion shows in 2013? 

Well, the reunion shows were so much fun and such a wonderful celebration of the 20th anniversary of Last Splash. And not only for the album but also of that period of time that people hold really dear. It was privilege to share that experience with the audience and the band had such a great time playing together and hanging around each other that we just didn’t want it to end!!

Both you and your sister Kim Deal are inspirations for young women pursuing music. What advice would you give to women in the music field?

Don’t feel pressured to “play like a guy.” I mean….unless you want to…. I don’t know. How about: “You do you.” 

What’s next for you?

The Breeders have three 7” versions of Wait In The Car being released on 4AD so it feels like coming home.

Here's the full list of Q Awards 2017 winners:

Q Best Breakthrough Act Presented by Red Stripe - Rag’n’Bone Man

Q Best Live Act Presented by The Cavern Club - Liam Gallagher

Q Maverick Presented by the Roundhouse - Viv Albertine

Q Innovation In Sound Presented by Flare Audio - Wiley

Q Best Film Presented by Pretty Green - Bunch Of Kunst (Sleaford Mods)

Q Best Track Presented by Flare Audio – Kasabian - You're In Love With A Psycho

Q Inspiration Award Presented by Three – Manic Street Preachers

Q Best Album Presented by The Box Plus Network - Gorilla – Human

Q Best Solo Artist Presented by Help Musicians UK – Storms

Q Gibson Les Paul Award – Kelley Deal

Q Best Act In The World Today Presented by Buster + Punch – Ed Sheeran

Q Icon presented by BMW UK – Liam Gallagher


Photo: Mark Choiniere