Martin Carthy

Martin Carthy

English folk singer and guitarist
Date of Birth: 21.05.1941
Country: Great Britain

  1. Biography of Martin Carthy
  2. Early Life and Career
  3. Influence and Controversy
  4. Collaborations and Recognition

Biography of Martin Carthy

Martin Carthy, born on May 21, 1941, in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, is an English folk singer and guitarist. He remains one of the most influential musicians in British traditional music, inspiring both his peers, such as Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, and later generations of musicians, since he emerged at the forefront of the folk music revival. Carthy has had a prolific career, releasing 17 solo albums, 14 compilations and live albums, participating in the recording of 5 albums as a member of the famous folk group 'Steeleye Span', 13 albums with 'The Watersons' and 'Waterson:Carthy', 8 albums with the group 'Brass Monkey', 1 album with 'Blue Murder', and also making guest appearances on about 20 albums by other musicians. In June 1998, he was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

Martin Carthy

Early Life and Career

Carthy grew up in Hampstead, North London, and after finishing school, he worked as a prompter at an open-air theater in Regent's Park. He then became an assistant director on tour with the operetta 'The Merry Widow', and later worked at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough. Following this, Martin began performing songs in cafes and bars. In the early 1960s, he became a resident performer at the folk club 'The Troubadour' in Earls Court and in 1961, he became a member of 'Thameside Four', a group led by Redd Sullivan. Carthy gained fame as a solo performer of traditional English songs, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. He has a unique style of playing, characterized by the use of alternate tunings and strong strikes that emphasize the melody. His debut album, simply titled 'Martin Carthy', was released in 1965. The album featured Dave Swarbrick on violin in several tracks, although he was not credited on the album's sleeve.

Martin Carthy

Influence and Controversy

Carthy's arrangement of the traditional ballad 'Scarborough Fair' was unexpectedly adapted by Paul Simon on the album 'Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme' released by 'Simon and Garfunkel' in 1966. This caused some controversy, as although 'Scarborough Fair' is a folk ballad, Carthy's particular adaptation of the song still belonged to him, and the borrowing sparked disagreements between the musicians. Martin and Paul finally performed 'Scarborough Fair' together on stage at the Hammersmith Apollo in late October 2000, much to the delight of their fans. Martin considered it an exciting moment and one of the great moments of his life. He concluded that the dispute over the ballad had more to do with wounded pride than any real deceit from Paul Simon.

Collaborations and Recognition

Martin Carthy has frequently collaborated, performed, and recorded with other musicians. Since 1972, he has sung with 'The Watersons', twice joined the British electric folk group 'Steeleye Span', in 1973 he was part of 'Albion Country Band' alongside members of 'Fairport Convention' and John Kirkpatrick, recording the album 'Battle of the Field'. He has been a member of the reformed lineup of 'Brass Monkey', a group that combines various wind instruments with Carthy's guitar and mandolin, as well as John Kirkpatrick's accordion, concertina, and harmonica. For many years, Carthy enjoyed a creative partnership with fiddler Dave Swarbrick. More recently, the successful family venture 'Waterson:Carthy' emerged, featuring Martin Carthy, his wife Norma Waterson, and their daughter Eliza Carthy. In 2002, Carthy was named 'Musician of the Year' at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, and in 2005, he won the award for 'Best Traditional Song'. In 2007, Carthy and Swarbrick were honored with the 'Folk Award' for Best Duo.