Martin and Eliza Carthy (England)
If there was a single guiding spirit of the 1960’s English folk revival, then Martin Carthy was that spirit.
In addition to being one of the most talented mandolinists, acoustic guitarists and multi-instrumentalists playing the folk clubs in those day (and since, if we’re honest), he is a great singer, arranger and editor, with an ear for traditional composition. His role in keeping this music alive and thriving cannot be understated. “You have to believe in this music, knowing that it can survive and compete with anything else out there. It’s distinctive, it’s powerful, it means something, it will actually reach down inside you and tug at everything, including your heart strings. It will shake you right down to your boots, if you’ll allow it. And if some people don’t get that, then it truly is their problem and their loss.”
Born in 1975, Eliza Carthy first appeared on stage with her father, Martin, when she was six and she’s been singing ever since. At age thirteen, she formed the Waterdaughters, singing with her mother, Norma, her aunt and her cousin and when she was eighteen, decided to become a professional folk musician. She can still recall “…the only piece of advice mum and dad gave me… Don’t shag the band!”
The details of these extraordinary artists’ careers is the stuff of books and legend, so numerous and varied are their well-deserved accomplishments and accolades, but let’s just say they are passionate and talented activists for the kind of music we love.
Martin and Eliza Carthy don’t simply perform folk songs, they cherish them – seeking them out in archives, learning them from elders and bringing them back to life on stages around the world. When they do, it’s clear there’s a profound empathy with the lives they sing about. They pass that feeling on to every audience they meet, and we are all the richer for that experience.