Singer and flautist Maggie Boyle has very sadly passed away. There have been numerous dedications pouring in over social media sites from the many fans and artists she had such a huge influence on. In her most recent album Martha Tilston credits Maggie (her stepmother) as the single most important inspiration for her own singing, with the moving dedication, “Thank you, it’s because of you that I sing at all.”
Maggie herself was from a rich family history of music and storytelling, raised in the London-Irish community of the 60’s and 70’s. Her father was Paddy Boyle, a native speaker from the Donegal Gaeltacht townland of Derryloughan, Nr Glenties. Her other main tutor was Oliver Mulligan, a great singer from Co. Monaghan, resident in London.
In 2012 she started her wonderful Kitchen Songs Project (read our earlier article). It is no surprise that the ‘kitchen’ should take on such an iconic meaning to her as this was where she heard many people entertain with their songs and stories. The project resulted in a lovely archive of interviews and performances – as well as being subject of two radio programmes for BBC Radio Leeds. Here’s one of her sessions from that project performed with Pete Coe on bansitar.
Around this time Maggie also kept herself busy gigging to support the release of Grace Notes’ 5th CD for their 20th Anniversary, followed by her 3rd solo release, Won’t You Come Away. An album which featured great guest musicians including Paul Downes, Jon Boden, Dave McKeown, Steve Tilston, and Dave Wood.
In 2013 we learned that Maggie had been diagnosed with bowel cancer. Many of her music friends rallied around her and decided to pool their talents to put on a concert to aid Maggie with her post operative treatments and contribute to her and her family’s general welfare.
It’s difficult to choose highlights from Maggie’s musical career as there are so many. I always loved the work she did with Steve Tilston. Earlier this year we featured The Night Owl Homeward Turns as our Song of the Day after finding a video (by Bristol Ron) at the Hat & Feather, Bath in April 1993, a song that also featured on Steve and Maggie’s 1992 release their Of Moor & Mesa, one that gets regular airplay on Folk Radio UK.
Here’s another from Bristol Ron with Maggie performing Searching For Lambs at the Albert Hole Bedminster Bristol on 3rd May 1995
Her influence was so vast and not just as a singer. She played whistle on Bert Jansch’s The Ornament Tree which was much influenced by her talents:
You only need to read what people are saying to see that she was a lovely person, she will missed by so many.
Our sympathy goes to her family and loved ones.