Norma Waterson

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Norma Waterson
Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson at a Waterson–Carthy performance in Cranleigh, Surrey, April 2006
Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson at a Waterson–Carthy performance in Cranleigh, Surrey, April 2006
Background information
Born (1939-08-15) 15 August 1939 (age 82)
Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, England
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, record producer
InstrumentsVocals, triangle
LabelsHannibal Records, Topic Records
Associated actsThe Watersons, Martin Carthy, Waterson–Carthy, Blue Murder, Danny Thompson, Richard Thompson, Roger Swallow

Norma Christine Waterson (born 15 August 1939) is an English musician, best known as one of the original members of The Watersons, a celebrated English traditional group. Other members of the group included her brother Mike Waterson and sister Lal Waterson,[1] a cousin John Harrison, and in later incarnations of the group her husband Martin Carthy.[2]

Waterson was born in Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire and brought up there by her grandmother, who was half-Gypsy.[3] Her eponymously titled solo debut Norma Waterson was produced by John Chelew and released by Hannibal Records in 1996, and was well received in the scene (including a nomination for the Mercury Music Prize), featuring collaborations with her daughter, Eliza Carthy, Martin Carthy and other members of The Watersons, as well as Danny Thompson (Pentangle), Richard Thompson (Fairport Convention) and Roger Swallow (Albion Country Band).

In 1999, the follow-up The Very Thought of You was released by Hannibal Records and once again featured Richard Thompson, Danny Thompson, Eliza Carthy and husband Martin Carthy.

In 2001, she released her first solo traditional folk album, Bright Shiny Morning, on Topic Records.

She is a member of Waterson–Carthy with Martin Carthy and Eliza Carthy, and of the "supergroup" Blue Murder. She has appeared on a variety of collective recordings, notably Peter Bellamy's The Transports. In 2008, Norma made a guest appearance alongside Mike Waterson on Scottish musician James Yorkston's album When the Haar Rolls In, singing her sister Lal Waterson's song, "Midnight Feast".

In 2009 the accompanying book to the Topic Records 70-year anniversary boxed set Three Score and Ten lists two Watersons albums and one Waterson–Carthy album as classic albums. These are Frost and Fire,[4]: 34  For Pence and Spiced Ale[4]: 46  and Waterson:Carthy.[4]: 76  The tracks that Norma performs on are Hal-An-Tow (track 11 on the second CD), Three Score and Ten (track 17), We Poor Labouring Men with Waterson:Carthy (track 21 on the sixth CD) and, with Blue Murder, "No One Stands Alone" (track 22 of the seventh CD).

In 2010, Waterson released an album of collaborations with her daughter Eliza entitled Gift. A BBC reviewer wrote: "The gift in question here, one gathers, is a handing of talent from generation to generation; Norma Waterson and Eliza Carthy are, after all, the sublimely gifted mother and daughter who make up part of British folk’s great dynasty." Commenting on the final song, "Shallow Brown", the reviewer noted: "Backed variously by other family members, including Eliza’s father Martin Carthy on guitar as well as her cousin Oliver Knight on electric guitar, vocals and cello, there is a real sense of congregation and rootedness about this song, and indeed this record as a whole. Long may the dynasty flourish."[5]

In 2016, Waterson received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards alongside Joan Armatrading.

Solo discography[edit]


  1. ^ Pareles, Jon (4 December 1987). "Watersons, Folk Singers From Britain". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 April 2011.
  2. ^ Harris, Craig. "Biography: The Watersons". Allmusic. Retrieved 4 June 2010.
  3. ^ Denselow, Robin (31 October 2010). "Norma Waterson and Eliza Carthy – review". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  4. ^ a b c "Three Score & Ten". Topic Records. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  5. ^ Barton, Laura (21 July 2010). "Mother and daughter's first album as a folk duo is a beguiling listen". BBC Music. Retrieved 17 August 2010.