The Watersons

Among the first wave of English traditional folk revival groups, the instinctive and compelling unaccompanied harmonies of Yorkshire's Watersons family make them one of the folk genre's most inspirational and influential outfits. Raised in Hull by their grandmother, siblings Mike, Norma and Lal Waterson would sing for fun around the house, forming a skiffle group and linking up with their cousin John Harrison to explore and research the English traditional songs which would play a key role in the burgeoning folk movement of the early 1960s. While running their own folk club, The Bluebell in Hull, their 1965 debut album Frost and Fire - a song cycle based around seasonal ceremonies - became a significant landmark for the folk movement and is still regarded as a classic. Follow-ups The Watersons (1966) and A Yorkshire Garland (1966) wer also highly acclaimed but as the stress of touring took its toll, they split in 1968. With Bernie Vickers replacing John Harrison, they re-formed four years later, sounding as committed and powerful as ever. Norma Waterson's husband Martin Carthy replaced Bernie Vickers and they continued to make classic albums like For Pence and Spicy Ale (1975), Sound, Sound Your Instruments of Joy (1977) and Green Fields (1981). There were various offshoots along the way, including an occasional amalgamation with Swan Arcade under the name Blue Murder but when Mike and Lal Waterson decided to opt out of regular performing in the early 1990s, they evolved into Waterson:Carthy, with Martin and Norma's daughter Eliza Carthy joining the family group. Elaine Waterson died on September 4, 1998, followed by brother Mike, who passed away on June 22, 2011. Norma Waterson, the most musically active of the three siblings, died on January 30, 2022.

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