The Mediæval Bæbes are a British ensemble of female musicians founded in the 1990s by Dorothy Carter and Katharine Blake. It included some of Blake's colleagues from the band Miranda Sex Garden, as well as other friends who share her love of medieval music. The lineup often rotates from album to album, and ranges from six to 12 members.
The Bæbes's first album, Salva Nos (1997), shot straight to No. 2 in the classical charts, a silver disc. Subsequent albums include Worldes Blysse (which went straight to No. 1), Undrentide, (co-produced by John Cale), The Rose, (produced by Toby Wood), and the Christmas-themed album Mistletoe and Wine.
Mirabilis (2005), was launched at a concert and party in London, August 2005. A self-titled DVD was released in July 2006. The first 300 preorders were autographed by the band and received a special mention in the DVD credits.
A live album was released on November 25, 2006 and features two new studio tracks.
Each album features traditional medieval songs and poetry set to music, mostly arranged by Blake specifically for the ensemble, alongside varying numbers of original compositions. They sing in a variety of languages, including Latin, Middle English, French, Italian, Russian, Swedish, Cadenet,[clarification needed] Scottish English, German, Manx Gaelic, Spanish, Welsh, Bavarian, Provençal, Irish, modern English and Cornish. Their vocals are backed by medieval instruments, including the recorder and cittern, played by the singers or fellow musicians.
The Bæbes' musical pieces run the gamut from extremely traditional, such as their version of the "Coventry Carol" on Salva Nos, to songs that feel traditional but are much more modern, such as their rendition of "Summerisle", a song written for Robin Hardy's 1973 cult film, The Wicker Man. John Cale added non-medieval instruments, including saxophone and electric guitar, to some of the arrangements on Undrentide, although with subsequent albums the band returned to more traditional instruments. Even with these instruments, however, the band's current style is quite different from medieval authentic performance groups, as it displays significant modern influence, this juxtaposition most notably apparent in the Bæbes's latest album Illumination (2009) produced by KK (Kevin Kerrigan).
The Bæbes provided the vocal track for and starred in the video of the Delerium track "Aria"; the vocals are an adapted version of the vocals from "All Turns to Yesterday" from Worldes Blysse. They are also featured on two tracks from Delerium's 2006 album, Nuages du Monde: "Extollere" and "Sister Sojourn Ghost".
In 2005, the Bæbes contributed Mediæval Bæbes music to the soundtrack of the BBC period drama The Virgin Queen, which portrays the life of Elizabeth I, including the title music, which is a poem written by Elizabeth set to music by Blake.
One of the group's founding musicians, Dorothy Carter, died of a stroke in 2003 at the age of 68. In addition to playing autoharp, hurdy gurdy, and dulcimer with the group, she performed the lead vocals on "So Spricht Das Leben" (Worldes Blysse) and "L'Amour de Moi" (The Rose).
Emily Ovenden is the daughter of artists Graham Ovenden and Annie Ovenden. She was born and raised in Cornwall and now lives in London. She performed backing vocals on Dragonforce's The Power Within. She is also a founding member and lead vocalist of English gothic metal band Pythia.
Marie Findley is also a film reviewer and television script writer for programmes such as Smack the Pony and The Ant & Dec Show. She was the lead (using the name Tulip Junkie) in the Ken Russell film The Fall of the Louse of Usher. Marie left the group in March 2007.
16 May 2007 - Audrey Evans and Maple Bee resigned due to family and professional commitments and Cylindra Sapphire resigned in order to follow a different musical path.
22 July 2009 - Claire Rabbitt left the Bæbes. Sarah Kayte Foster came on to replace her.
- 1997 Salva Nos
- 1998 Worldes Blysse
- 2000 Undrentide
- 2002 The Rose
- 2005 Mirabilis
- 2008 Illumination
- 2012 The Huntress
- 2013 Of Kings And Angels
- 2006 Live (includes two new studio tracks; sold only on the official website and at concerts)
- 2010 Temptation
Compilations and soundtracks
- 1999 The Best Of The Mediæval Bæbes (this title is absent from the Mediæval Bæbes' website, and they comment that Mistletoe and Wine is 'the only compilation endorsed by the Mediæval Bæbes')
- 2003 Mistletoe And Wine (a collection of Christmas-related music from previous albums, plus 2 new songs and 2 re-recorded songs)
- 2006 The Virgin Queen - Music From The Original Television Series (soundtrack album by Martin Phipps, featuring Mediæval Bæbes)
- 2012 Devotion (a collection of devotional tracks from previous albums remixed and remastered, plus one new song; sold only on the official website and at concerts)
- 2000 Live At The Rehearsal Hall (VHS)
- 2006 Mediæval Bæbes (DVD)
- 2009 Live At Gloucester Cathedral (DVD)
- Willin, Melvyn J. (2005). Music, witchcraft and the paranormal. p. 252. "The Mediaeval Baebes were formed in 1996 when a medieval music enthusiast, Dorothy Carter, inspired Katherine Blake, a professional singer with the group Miranda Sex Garden, with her performance on medieval instruments."
- Alex (2013 [last update]). "DragonForce - Metal Master Kingdom". metalmasterkingdom.com. Retrieved 10 April 2013.