Recently Fay Hield invited us into her beautiful family home to talk about production of her new album 'Looking Glass' and her academic work on traditional music with Russell Cottier.
Fay Hield began her singing life in the lively music scene around the Famous Bacca Pipes Folk Club in Keighley. She was instrumental in launching the Haworth Arts Festival and the Three’s Company folk promotions organisation, and performed as half of a highly-regarded duo with Damien Barber.
During her time at Newcastle she formed the female a cappella quartet The Witches Of Elswick. The Witches recorded two acclaimed CDs — Out Of Bed, (Fellside) and Hell’s Belles (Selwyn Music) — in their four years together, as well as clocking up numerous radio broadcasts (including a spot on Woman’s Hour). Their true habitat, however, was in live performance, and they blazed their progress around the folk club and festival circuits.
After a year or two off the folk radar, during which she researched her PhD thesis and discovered motherhood, Fay returned to public view via occasional performances with partner Jon Boden. By this time she and Jon had fetched up on the moorland fringes of Sheffield where they run two clubs gaining national recognition – Royal Traditions (Dungworth) and Bright Phoebus (Sheffield centre).
In 2009 a new concert line-up with Rob Harbron (English Acoustic Collective) and Sam Sweeney (Bellowhead) was established, built around a striking repertoire of often obscure material drawn from rarely-thumbed collections. This spicy stew of songs and ballads, catches and caprices is showcased on her debut solo CD - Looking Glass, released September 2010 on the prestigious Topic Records.
Instrumentation includes fiddles, concertina, nyckelharpa, and guitar. The sound is at once crafty and nimble, airy and graceful, full of zest and nuance, sensitive to the tradition yet utterly distinctive. Fay leads with a voice whose rough edges are still thrillingly intact, and which goes straight to the living heart of the songs.
Fay completed her PhD, 'English Folk Singing and the Construction of Community', at The University of Sheffield in 2010 under the supervision of Prof Joan Beal and Dr Andrew Killick. Elements of the thesis are currently being prepared for publication and further details will be posted here when they are available.
Fay delivers occasional seminars and lectures at The University of Sheffield and other educational establishments including The Leeds College of Music. Please contact Fay directly if you would like to discuss the possibilities of her visiting your institution:
Based in the north of England near Liverpool Russell Cottier has worked for Clients such as Sony, Tamoki Wambesi Dove, Trojan records etc. Specialising in rock and metal (but embracing all) genres. We are delighted to bring several video features with Russ including the new video blog series.