Eliza Carthy Biography

23 August 1975, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England. The daughter of Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson (the Watersons), Eliza Carthy could hardly escape the music of her parents. Her earliest memory is of falling asleep in the kitchen to the strains of a Watersons’ practice session. As she grew older she was quickly inducted into the Watersons’ ranks, but chose fiddle rather than learn from her master guitarist father - principally because he was too often absent to teach her. In 1989, she formed the Waterdaughters with her mother, aunt and cousin. In 1990 she met fiddle player Nancy Kerr. They toured together extensively as a duo and recorded two acclaimed albums for Mrs Casey Records. Between albums she teamed up with her parents (as Waterson:Carthy) to record one of the best-received English folk albums for several years, voted Folk Roots ’ Critic’s Choice of 1994. Wide-ranging critical approval also greeted the February 1996 release of her debut solo album, Heat, Light & Sound, released on the Topic Records label. A beautiful 12-song collection of traditional material fluidly arranged by Carthy herself, the lightness of touch demonstrated in both her vocals and fiddle playing confirmed her rising status within contemporary English folk song. Eliza Carthy And The Kings Of Calicutt, released in 1997, and the following year’s double Red Rice were two more brilliant genre-bending albums that successfully redefined the boundaries of folk music.

A major label contract with Warner Brothers Records was not long in following. Carthy’s debut for the label, the overly commercial Angels & Cigarettes, was released in late 2000 to a more restrained response than the artist normally received. Carthy returned to Topic and a more traditional sound on the excellent Anglicana. This 2002 release featured extensive input from folk duo John Spiers And Jon Boden and Carthy’s partner and viola player, Ben Ivitsky. She spent the next two years working on the road with these musicians (dubbed the Ratcatchers) before the quartet entered the studio to complete the wonderfully unfettered Rough Music.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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