Following on from last year’s Elizabethan Session the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) and Folk by the Oak have commissioned a new project titled Sweet Liberties in which a number of prominent folk singers come together to take a musical journey exploring the pursuit of democracy and the events that have made a difference to our liberties.
The trigger for the project revolves around a number of constitutional anniversaries, including 800 years since the sealing of the Magna Carta and 750 years since the Simon de Montfort parliament.
For this project four folk songwriters have been invited to celebrate the pursuit of democracy. BBC Folk Singer of the Year Nancy Kerr, Martyn Joseph, Sam Carter, and Maz O’Connor will compose new music in response to the rights and liberties that people have fought to achieve and protect over the past eight centuries.
They will consider milestone moments that mark the passage of key pieces of legislation, and also review moments when the aspiration for rights or liberties were articulated.
It will be interesting to see what they decide to focus on, Maz has already brought focus to the fight for womens rights with her song Derby Day which commemorated the 100th anniversary of the death of suffragette Emily Wilding-Davison, who died attempting to attach a Votes For Women scarf to the bridle of the kings horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby.
There’s plenty of social unrest to sing about: The Diggers of 1649 has been a popular theme, they attempted to farm on common land – the seeds of Agrarian socialism. They have inspired modern singers such as Billy Bragg, Dick Gaughan, Chumbawumba and many more. Then look at the influence of politics in folk music: Topic Records is one of the best, our oldest independent record label which began life as an offshoot of the Workers Music Association which sold left-wing political music by mail order. What history! We’ve certainly a fascinating history worth singing about.
To support the creative process, the artists will have access to the Parliamentary Archives and historians, together with folk material from the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library.
The four songwriters will be joined by musicians Patsy Reid and Nick Cooke for the culmination of the project – a UK tour in November 2015. The group will also perform at the Folk by the Oak festival in Hatfield in July 2016.
The project has been commissioned by the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) and Folk by the Oak in partnership with the Houses of Parliament’s 2015 anniversaries programme, Parliament in the Making. It is partly funded by the PRS for Music Foundation.
Concert tour dates
24th November – Cambridge Junction
25th November – Colston Hall, Bristol
26th November – The Met, Bury
27th November – St David’s Hall, Cardiff
28th November – Cecil Sharp House, London
29th November – The Sage, Gateshead