Eliza Carthy Announced as President of the English Folk Dance and Song Society

Eliza Carthy

Eliza Carthy Announced as President of the English Folk Dance and Song Society

Carthy succeeds Shirley Collins who held the post from 2008 to 2020.

The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) has announced the renowned folk singer and fiddle-player Eliza Carthy as its next President. Carthy succeeds singer Shirley Collins who held the role between 2008 and 2020. Only three others have held the position since the Society was founded in 1932: Ralph Vaughan Williams, Princess Margaret and Ursula Vaughan Williams.

Commenting on her appointment, Carthy said: 

Since I was a child my family has spoken of the institution of the English Folk Dance and Song Society as the trove of our traditions. My first visit to the house as an adult to research the Carpenter collection on microfiche for my first album was like a pilgrimage, an experience never forgotten. The Society has since worked tirelessly to make the archive and library available to the wider modern world via their online resources; the treasure is now free to curious minds all over the world.

When a laughing Shirley Collins and I put our handprints in cement outside the House in 2008 I didn’t imagine that I’d one day be given the honour of President of the Society. The English Folk Dance and Song Society continues to be custodian of the people’s shared cultural history whilst looking forward to the future. I’m beyond delighted to accept this position.

From North Yorkshire, Carthy is one of England’s best known folk artists. She has recorded twelve solo albums and performed in a range of musical collaborations. She has been twice nominated for the Mercury Music Prize for UK album of the year, in 1998 for Red Rice and in 2003 for Anglicana. When she was 13, she formed the group Waterdaughters with her mother, Norma Waterson, aunt (Lal Waterson) and cousin (Marry Waterson). She has also worked and recorded with Nancy Kerr, and performed with her mother and father, singer Martin Carthy, as Waterson–Carthy, and as part of the group Blue Murder, in addition to her own solo work. She was a guest musician on Mermaid Avenue by Billy Bragg and Wilco.

In 2003, she won several BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, including Folk Singer of the Year, Best Album (for Anglicana) and Best Traditional Track (for ‘Worcester City’). She was also the first traditional English musician to be nominated for a BBC Radio 3 Award for World Music in the same year (for Anglicana). In 2008 she was elected Vice-President of EFDSS and in 2014 she was awarded an MBE for services to folk music.

Katy Spicer, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of EFDSS, said: 

We are very pleased to start another chapter in the organisation’s long-standing and valued association with Eliza. She is a superbly imaginative ambassador for the folk music of England, celebrating its history hand-in-hand with an ever-innovative approach to music-making today. Eliza’s support will be invaluable as we continue our mission: to champion the folk arts at the very heart of England’s rich and diverse cultural landscape.

For more, visit www.efdss.org.

Published on 30 November 2021

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