Roots Quartet | Somerset Sisters

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Folk: British Folk Folk: Traditional Folk Moods: A Cappella
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Somerset Sisters

by Roots Quartet

English traditional female folk. Sublime accapella harmonies in Celtic and Medieval mood.
Genre: Folk: British Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Our Captain Cried All Hands
2:14 $0.99
2. Geordie
3:12 $0.99
3. The Crabfish
3:30 $0.99
4. The Sign of the Bonny Blue Bell
4:28 $0.99
5. The Cuckoo
2:05 $0.99
6. Driving Away with the Smoothing Iron
3:37 $0.99
7. Oh No Sir
1:38 $0.99
8. Sweet Kitty
2:28 $0.99
9. The Banks of Green Willow
2:07 $0.99
10. Rosemary Lane
3:21 $0.99
11. Creeping Jane
3:22 $0.99
12. Mary on the Well Moor
3:45 $0.99
13. Searching for Lambs
2:19 $0.99
14. Sovay Sovay
2:17 $0.99
15. Green Broom
5:33 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Roots Quartet are delighted to present 'Somerset Sisters' as featured on BBC Woman's Hour and BBC Songs of Praise in UK and in Australia. They are passionate about sharing the songs of their ancestors, and have researched and arranged in beautiful accapella harmony the songs of these all but forgotten Somerset women song bearers. Discover their worksongs, tales of love, and ditties of mischief and misdemeanour all lovingly sung by the gorgeous voices of Yvette Staelens and Michelle Hicks.

In 1903, English musician Cecil Sharp collected his first folk song in the village of Hambridge in Somerset. The gardener at the vicarage,John England, sang 'The Seeds of Love' and Cecil was hooked. Thus began a quest to find more songs and to save what was becoming a lost heritage. Roots Quartet have re-visited Cecil's field notes, preserved in the library of the English Folk Dance and Song Society in London, and discovered the wonderful repertoires of Emma Overd, a withy stripper and mother of 11 children, and half-sisters Louie Hooper and Lucy White who gave Sharp over 100 folk songs. Many versions of these songs have made it over the pond to America and become part of American folk song heritage. For example 'Mary of the Well Moor' sung by Emma Overd in 1904 has been recorded by Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and many others, hear it here in a pure English style.

Who are Roots Quartet?
Roots Quartet are a duo, sometimes a trio, but never a quartet. Strange things might happen if they become so. Players include founder members Yvette Staelens and Abbie Lathe, currently touring with Maddy Prior (Steeleye Span) as ‘Maddy and the Girls’, and today include Michelle Hicks and Bronwen Harrison. They have been supported by two ace guitarists Nigel Pope ( now Director at the BBC Natural History Unit in Bristol) and Mitch Norman, and Roots Quartet instrumental albums include combine all their skills on Renaissance lute, bodhran, recorders, dulcimer, cello, piano, whistles, fiddle, alto sax, clarinet and curious percussive outbursts on egg shakers, triangle, plastic water bottles, typewriters...

With musical roots in the west of England, Roots Quartet HQ is a Somerset dairy farm on the edge of the Somerset Levels, barely 15 metres above sea level. This is an area of ancient lowland bog teaming with wild life, where prehistoric trackways meander silently through the landscape on their 4,000 year journey. Spring comes early here in a flurry of snowdrops, banks of primroses, and the mew of young buzzards soaring above the ancient bluebell woods on hills behind the farm. It’s an inspiring and beautiful landscape, and one that has nurtured generations of Somerset people into song, a land that still inspires today. Somerset Sisters is quite simply sublime.

'Harmonies? We adore them. We experiment with them, we teach them at harmony singing workshops to hundreds of people, they drive our music. We love the un-accompanied voice, surely the finest instrument ever invented.' Yvette

'We hope you enjoy our music, it has given us enormous pleasure in the making of it and we just can’t stop.' Michelle

‘… as performers, they have a natural rapport with each other, a sense of fun and an ability to grip an audience totally’. Ed Maddrell, Folkwrite



to write a review

Jonathan Dean

Stunning a capella close harmony singing!
These two singers spring from the English tradition of a capella cloes harmony singing. The sounds are rich and wonderful--the words of the songs are like the jokes women tell each other--all about sex without actually being dirty. There is a wonderful track of one of the remaining women singers from Somerset. An unmitigated delight. Buy it.