Norma Waterson obituary

Celebrated singer of traditional English folk music whose embrace of other musical styles won her a wide following

Norma Waterson, who has died aged 82, was one of the finest and most versatile singers of the British folk revival. She spent most of her life singing traditional songs, many from her native east Yorkshire, in two highly successful groups, the Watersons and Waterson:Carthy, in which she was joined by other members of her family. But her no-nonsense, soulful and unashamedly emotional approach was well-suited to a wide variety of other musical styles, as she displayed in the solo recordings and collaborations with Eliza Carthy, her daughter, that won her a following far beyond the folk scene.

She was a hard-working, prolific artist who refused to stop recording or touring, and was singing as well in her 70s as she had in her 20s. Her final album, Anchor (2018), was the second that she had recorded with Eliza, and was a typically varied and experimental affair. It included Norma singing lead on a dramatic, jazz-edged treatment of the Tom Waits song Strange Weather and on a gently powerful version of Nick Lowe’s The Beast in Me.

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