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Two Bold Singermen and the English Folk Revival

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Two Bold Singermen and the English Folk Revival explores the lives and song traditions of two of the most influential English traditional singers: Sam Larner and Harry Cox. Using extensive primary evidence, including recorded interviews with both men, the book provides the first detailed biographies of these great singers, placing their singing and repertoires within the social and cultural contexts in which they lived.

Larner and Cox were born within six years and 15 miles of each other, in late-nineteenth century Norfolk. Both men grew up in large, working-class, families, started work before their teens, spent their working lives in hard manual labour – Sam as a trawlerman, Harry as a farm labourer – married late and lived into their 80s. Crucially, both men were singers from an early age, amassed large repertoires of songs that are now established in the traditional canon and became key figures in the ‘folk revival’ of the 1950s and 60s. They directly influenced performers such as Martin Carthy, Shirley Collins, Peggy Seeger, Young Tradition and Steeleye Span, and indirectly influenced Paul Simon and Bob Dylan. Their impact extends to the current generation of performers and composers in the folk, Americana and singer/songwriter fields and even to Hollywood.

Published: Mar 1, 2021