Fay Hield

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A singer who seems to have been born knowing how to carry a tune but with the rarer gift of knowing how to go straight to the heart of a song.

Fay’s first two solo albums, “Looking Glass” (2010) and “Orfeo” (2012), were released by prestigious folk label Topic Records. They won Fay many accolades as well as a nomination for the Horizon Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Fay’s choice of material and the delivery of it, reflect a rare sensitivity and appreciation of the tradition whilst remaining naturalistic and highly distinctive.

‘Unadorned and quite exquisite’ * * * * ~ Uncut Magazine
‘Powerful Material’ * * * * * ~ Songlines
‘Hats off, thoroughly conquered, vibrant and impresses.’ * * * * ~ The Telegraph

Where “Looking Glass” showcased her rich and unadorned voice, “Orfeo” saw Fay confidently fronting a stellar supporting cast: The Hurricane Party. Consisting of some of the finest folk musicians working today; Andy Cutting (button accordions, melodeon), Rob Harbron (English Concertina, fiddle, vocals), Sam Sweeney (fiddle, viola, cello, nyckelharpa, vocals) and Roger Wilson (fiddle, guitar, mandolin and vocals). Plus special guests Jon Boden and Martin Simpson.

As well as her burgeoning performance career, Fay is also an academic, lecturing in Music at the University of Sheffield, specializing in the role folk music plays in the construction of communities. With her unique combination of performance and academic talents, it was perhaps inevitable that she would take the initiative with The Full English, a groundbreaking project sponsored by the English Folk Dance and Song Society. For the first time many of the finest early 20th century folksong collections can be found in the most comprehensive searchable database of British folk songs, tunes, dances and customs in the world. To mark the launch of the project, Fay assembled The Full English Band, pulling together half a dozen of the top talents on the English folk music circuit for an evening of songs and tunes drawn from these unique collections. They include legendary players Seth Lakeman, Martin Simpson, Nancy Kerr, Sam Sweeney, Rob Harbron and double bassist Ben Nicholls. This super group toured for 2 years including many major festivals and released a self-titled album, again on Topic Records in 2013, winning Best Group and Best Album at the 2013 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and earning Fay a nomination for Folk Singer of the Year.

‘The great folk collectors honoured in The Full English would be singing rather than spinning in their graves at this fine album.’ * * * * ~The Telegraph
‘Foot-stomping, spirit-lifting warmth ensue….All human life is here.’ * * * * ~ The Daily Mirror

Following the success of The Full English, Fay moves forward as a leading proponent of traditional songs as she prepares to release a new solo album, “Old Adam”.

This fresh and original exploration of how we use songs, stories and music to understand what it means to be human combines vision, inspiration, dedication and outstanding musicianship to draw an act of tender poignancy. Her longstanding band, The Hurricane Party, expands to include members of The Full English, including fiddle, concertina, banjo, guitar, percussion and bass. At times sparse and contemplative, at times with a festival stomp, the music is captivating and engaging with plenty of choruses and vibrant interaction with the audience.

Bringing new arrangements to old songs, Fay continues in her exploration of the incredible repertoire that is the English tradition pushing at the boundaries of our engagement with music.

Following the considerable success of The Full English album and touring band, which she assembled, singer Fay Hield is due to release her 3rd solo album, ‘Old Adam’ on Soundpost Records in February 2016.

‘Old Adam’ is a fresh and original exploration of how we use stories and music to understand what it means to be human and combines not only Fay’s gift for unearthing striking material but also her distinctive and naturalistic delivery of it. These qualities have won her critical acclaim for her previous solo albums (Looking Glass / 2010 and Orfeo / 2012, both Topic Records) including several BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and a nomination for Folk Singer of the Year.

‘Old Adam’ contains 14 tracks, ranging from the The Hag in the Beck from the 1600s to The Briar and the Rose, a version of a Tom Waits song. The title track explores the oldest story in the book: ‘the fantasy of a purity of life, before corruption and sin ? perhaps it was a result of the developing sins that we have these songs to help us make sense of it all’ says Fay. ‘Willow Glen’ is taken from the Lucy Broadwood collection, while ‘Green Gravel’ (from Alice Gomme’s ‘Traditional Games of England, Scotland and Ireland’) is an interpretation of a playground song. ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsy’ moves into the realms of fantasy, with an enticing glimpse of a world we could inhabit, if only we would follow our hearts. Themes of justice (and injustice) are explored in Queen Eleanor’s Confession (from a version by Tim Hart and Maddy Prior) and The Hornet and the Beetle (from the collection of Ralph Vaughan Wiliams). Many of the lyrics are adapted and several tunes written by Fay and a couple by her partner, Jon Boden. The arrangements on the album are all by Fay Hield and The Hurricane Party.

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