Bringing black Britain’s untold stories to the world of roots music, Angeline Morrison and her songs are finally being heard. With appearances on Later… With Jools Holland and festival appearances dominating the songwriter’s 2023, Morrison has moved from the folk clubs of Cornwall to the international stage. “I made sure my songs had a kind of sound-world that would resonate with the trad community,” she has said of ‘The Sorrow Songs – Folk Songs of The Black British Experience’, her latest album. “With folk and traditional songs, the stories that you find are often the stories that represent the under-represented. So I thought that’s where we should be able to go to find the stories of historic black presence.”
INTRODUCING: ANGELINE MORRISON
Born in Birmingham, to a Jamaican mother and a father from the Outer hebrides, Morrison cites English folk music royalty Shirley Collins, Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson as her route into roots music. Spotted after singing from the floor spot of a Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson gig, Morrison was in for a shock when she tried to buy music from the folk heroes following the gig: “Norma refused to let me pay for it and gave me the record for free,” she laughs. “She said it’s important to encourage young singers… it felt like a blessing.”
That connection led to the couple’s daughter Eliza Carthy producing Morrison’s 2023 album ‘The Sorrow Songs – Folk Songs of The Black British Experience’ (“… an evocative and important addition to the British folk repertoire…” – The Quietus) and the record has gone on to dip a toe in the mainstream and become one of the most feted folk records of the last decade. Songs such as ‘Unknown African Boy (d. 1830)’, ‘Slave No More’ and ‘Black John’ offer historical alchemy to these oft-hidden tales and shine a light down the darkest alleys of our shared past. “People joined in the chorus,” she said about singing ‘Slave No More’ for the first time at a folk club. “Afterwards, somebody came up to me and said ‘what was that trad song about the black man who’s buried with his former master?’… and I had to tell him it wasn’t a traditional song.”
Angeline Morrison plays Black Deer Festival 2023.
Get tickets here.