Eliza Carthy

Article Bio Works Projects www
crossroads:
water
genre(subgenre):
Music (folk)
region:
Europe, Western
country/territory:
England (UK)
created on:
July 9, 2008
last changed on:
Please note: This page has not been updated since July 10, 2008. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
information provided by:
Eliza Carthy
Eliza Carthy. © Promo

Article

A wealth of fans from all genres

‘British folk music’ – once upon a time, the dread phrase would conjure up the image of a serious-looking singer wearing a woolly jumper, trapped in a smoky cellar playing his heart out (for it was probably a man) to three other blokes clutching pints of real ale and a matted dog. Since those far-off days, however, a quiet revolution has moved across the face of folk - today, the average folk fan is probably unaware that the music that he (or she, such is the extent of the sea-change) was ever described by the term. And the one who is mainly responsible for the emergence of British folk from the underground into the mainstream is Eliza Carthy.
Dying her hair extraordinary colours and incorporating such determinedly non-folk traditions as drum’n’bass, fiddler player/singer Carthy is an iconoclastic figure. Despite her repeated avowal that she was not predestined to be a folk singer, with a genetic heritage such as hers, how could it be otherwise? Her father is the legendary British folk guitarist Martin Carthy and her mother is renowned folk singer Norma Waterson, formerly of the Watersons and these days appearing with her husband as Waterson:Carthy. Both of her parents have been stalwarts of the British folk scene since the sixties and both have done their fair share of bringing folk music to a wider audience. Dylan, who transformed Carthy’s version of ‘Lord Franklin’ into ‘Bob Dylan’s Dream’ on his ‘Freewheelin’ album, and Paul Simon, to whom Carthy gave his arrangement, chord chart and lyrics of ‘Scarborough Fair’, both acknowledge Martin Carthy as a seminal figure. However, their daughter’s achievements threaten to overshadow the iconic status of her parents.

From her initial venture into the world of recording (at the age of twelve), Eliza Carthy was a fond favourite of ‘much-loved British broadcaster’ John Peel. With his unerring knack of sifting out the wheat from the musical chaff regardless of fashion, he sang her praises from the beginning, and booked her for many Peel shows (she also appears on one of Peel’s ‘All-Time Festive Fifty’ CD collections of urban song). Her almost hyperactive schedule of performing began when she joined her mother’s combo at the age of thirteen, and she has remained continually active since that time, contributing to twenty albums as a guest and releasing another ten as a solo artist.

Her musical approach is open and direct. Indeed, one of Carthy’s more notable traits is the directness of her language – she is not one to practice euphemism in song. As euphemism is central to popular culture, her refusal to indulge has raised eyebrows in certain quarters, especially when she refers to sexual antics which are often, at least in polite company, disguised by semantics. However, her earthiness contributes to the perception of her work as direct and honest and arguably follows in the established tradition of British folk music, which historically delivers graphic detail of betrayal, executions and torture. Her father agrees, saying ‘the only harm you can do to traditional music is not to play it or sing it.’

Carthy’s music has gained a wealth of fans from all genres – even hard-core club fanatics are to be found in her corner following her dabbling with drum’n’bass and reggae on her 1998 ‘Red Rice’ double release, in which the second CD was a contemporary reworking of the tunes on the other CD. Equally ambitious is the recently released ‘The Imagined Village’ on Peter Gabriel’s Real World label, which sees her, in the company of Paul Weller, Billy Bragg, Sheila Chandra and others, creating a virtual folk-village in the technosphere. Squaring the circle, this album has been described as ‘arguably the most ambitious re-invention of the English folk tradition since Fairport Convention back in 1969’, the band which was of course formed under the aegis of her father Martin.

For her tenth solo release (‘Dreams of Breathing Underwater’, 2008) she opts, for only the second time, to release a self-penned collection, in which she gathers together all the various influences of her past and distils them into the quintessence of contemporary urban folk music. Remarkably, it is the soundtrack to the break-up of her marriage to her song-writing partner and fellow musician Ben Ivitsky, who also appears on the album. He is not expected to appear at her concert on July 17th in the House of World Cultures.
Author: Martin Gordon

Bio

Born on 23rd of August 1976 in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, Great Britain.

Works

Dreams of Breathing Underwater

Published Audio,
2008
Topic

Rough Music

Published Audio,
2004
Topic

The Definite Collection

Published Audio,
2003
Highpoint Recordings

No One Stands Alone

Published Audio,
2002
Blue Murder: Topic

Anglicana

Published Audio,
2002
Topic

Train Song

Published Audio,
2001
Promo CD

Dinner

Published Audio,
2001
Martin Green & Eliza Carthy: Heroes of Edible Music

Red

Published Audio,
2001
Topic

Rice

Published Audio,
2001
Topic

Angels And Cigarettes

Published Audio,
2001
Warner Brothers

Broken Ground

Published Audio,
1999
Topic

Red Rice

Published Audio,
1998
Topic

Eliza Carthy & The Kings Of Calicutt

Published Audio,
1997
Eliza Carthy & The Kings Of Calicutt: Topic

Common Tongue

Published Audio,
1996
Waterson:Carthy: Topic

Heat, Light & Sound

Published Audio,
1996
Topic

Shape of Scrape

Published Audio,
1995
Eliza Carthy & Nancy Kerr: Mrs. Casey Records

On Reflection

Published Audio,
1995
Eliza Carthy & Nancy Kerr: Gadfly

Waterson:Carthy

Published Audio,
1994
Waterson:Carthy: Topic

Eliza Carthy & Nancy Kerr

Published Audio,
1993
Eliza Carthy & Nancy Kerr: Mrs. Casey Records

Projects

This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

WATER MUSIC

Summer Open Air Festival

(10 July 08 - 27 July 08)

Www

The official homepage of the artist