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|Birth name||Josephine Claire Hamill|
|Born||4 August 1954|
Port Clarence, County Durham, England, United Kingdom
|Genres||Folk rock, new-age, dream pop, progressive rock, jazz fusion|
Life and career
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Claire Hamill was born in Port Clarence, County Durham. She has been active in the music business since age 17. In 1971, she was launched as one of Britain's first female singer-songwriters and compared by several commentators to Joni Mitchell.
Shortly following the release of her debut album, One House Left Standing, Hamill went on her first UK tour, supporting John Martyn. She performed at the Concert 10 festival in the United States July 1972 before a crowd of 200,000. By 1973, she had toured the United States with Procol Harum and Jethro Tull, and returned to Britain to record her next album, October, at Manor Studio in Oxfordshire. She next toured with King Crimson.
In 1973, she met Ray Davies of the Kinks, who signed her to his Konk label for her third album Stage Door Johnnies, an album which included her first covers. She toured America for the second time that year and went on another UK tour supporting Gilbert O'Sullivan. In addition, she recorded what would be her final album of the '70s and the second one for Konk, Abracadabra.
In 1979, she provided vocals on the song "Look Over Your Shoulder" on The Steve Howe Album. In the early 1980s she worked with Wishbone Ash, appearing as a guest performer on their albums Just Testing (1980) and Number the Brave (1981) and joining the group for their 1981/82 tour. She returned as a guest on Bare Bones in 1999.
Hamill had always been regarded more as an album artist[according to whom?] but in 1980 she cut a single called "First Night in New York", which gained favourable reviews. She formed a group, Transporter (which took its name from Tees Transporter Bridge), which released one single.
In 1981, she appeared on the Jon and Vangelis album The Friends of Mr Cairo and also sang with British jazz/funk/fusion group Morrissey–Mullen, appearing on their Life on the Wire album (1982). In 1983, Hamill recorded a cover of Gene Pitney's "24 Hours from Tulsa", produced by the American musician Richard Niles. Another single, "If You Would Only Talk to Me", suffered from a lack of radio exposure.
By the mid '80s, Hamill reinvented herself as a New Age artist, which gained her a new audience along with commissions from the BBC and Channel 4. Her first album of the 80s, Touchpaper, was followed a year later by Voices, which featured all her own work. Her music was used for the five-part BBC1 series Domesday, broadcast in November and December 1986. Four tracks ("Glastonbury (Jerusalem)", "Tides", "Spring: Awaken Lark Rise" and "Stars") were issued as the Domesday EP on Coda Records, a label featuring many New Age artists and run by her then-husband Nick Austin.
After the next album, Love in the Afternoon, she cut a version of Pachelbel's Canon in both instrumental and vocal versions, the latter featuring her own words as "Someday We Will All be Together". Both this and the Voices album were used extensively by Channel 4 for a series of music videos collectively titled The Art of Landscape and shown every morning in the early 1990s. The video for the instrumental version of Canon, with scenes of Antarctic penguins, was voted by viewers as the favourite.
In 1992, Hamill went to live in Hastings, found a new partner[clarification needed] in Andrew Warren, and later cut a new album called Summer at the end of the decade. Since then, she has released The Lost & the Lovers and a compilation album. Her song "You Take my Breath Away" from The Lost & the Lovers was previously covered by Tuck & Patti on 1988's Tears of Joy and that version caught the attention of Eva Cassidy, whose recording of it was used in a movie soundtrack.[which?]
- 1971: One House Left Standing
- 1973: October
- 1974: Stage Door Johnnies
- 1975: Abracadabra
- 1984: Touchpaper
- 1986: Voices
- 1988: Love in the Afternoon
- 1997: Summer
- 2004: The Lost & the Lovers
- 2007: The Minor Fall the Major Lift: the Best of Josephine Claire Hamill
- 2015: When Daylight Arrives
- 2019: Over Dark Apples