Eliza Carthy kept me company on a slow drive through London today. I know her, but only via memories of the annual Sidmouth folk festival where she was always one of the big names. We loved the festival, and the community and generosity around the sharing of music.
The interview began with her childhood, and her folk musician parents, whose music soon swept her up on to the stage with them. Once there her reputation grew and grew. Like her parents, she became one of English folk music’s greats, and was on a roll, until the pandemic struck. Suddenly there was a void where there should have been performances, and in the background her mother was desperately ill. I could feel the courage and cost in her voice when she spoke of that time, saying that being well known in the world of folk music, meant that many assumed they would be well off … but they weren’t. She described folk music as a ‘cottage industry’, and said it received little official support during the pandemic.
The interview left me wondering why we undervalue so much of our cultural life.
The positive news is that, Eliza Carthy is performing again. I think her next performance is at the Barbican on the 4th of February.
Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023