A relative mentioned in passing that we may be related to the internationally famous, classically trained Trinidadian pianist Winifred Atwell – I had no idea of this. A further call to my relative revealed she had kept a newspaper cutting from 1954 and I was astonished to learn that Winifred’s hands were insured for £40,000 in the 1950s! Winifred was an international celebrity, known in households at home with Stephen Bourne citing her as a’folk hero for the British working classes.’ (Bourne 2001). My relative also told me that Elton John named one of his touring piano’s after Winifred and looking further I see that Elton names Winifred as one of his most early influences. Continue reading Winifred Atwell
Delia Derbyshire was a pioneer in electronic music who created one of the most well known TV theme tunes of all time.
Delia was born in Coventry in 1937, only two years before the outbreak of the Second World War. When the war began the government encouraged parents of young children like Delia to send them away to the relative safety of the countryside, however many chose not to. Initially, Delia’s parents were amongst them. She stayed in Coventry and lived through the famous Coventry Blitz, which razed the city to the ground. The sound of the air raid siren sounded night after night made a lasting impact on Delia, in her later life she reflected: Continue reading Delia Derbyshire
Margaret Elizabeth More was born in Harlech on June 26th 1903, to parents William Henry More and Alice. She had much older siblings, Constance, Jack, Frank, Evelyn and eventually a younger brother, George. The family home was Crown Lodge, in Harlech on the rugged Welsh Coast. Margaret was a great deal younger than the next eldest sister Evelyn, and was undoubtedly an unplanned child. As the girls did not attend school, they instead had a governess, with whom Margaret studied music. Margaret was a natural rebel, and the boredom of life away from a big city necessitated that the siblings created their own entertainment.
Memphis Minnie became known as ‘the queen of country blues’ for her amazing talent as a blues guitarist, singer & songwriter, who made waves amongst the mainly male-dominated blues scene of the 1930s.
Her real name was Lizzie Douglas, and she was born in 1897 in Mississippi, just south of Memphis. The oldest of 13 children, everyone in her large family called her ‘Kid’. She developed a love for music at a young age, taking up the banjo and receiving her first guitar at the age of 8 as a Christmas present.
Ethel Smyth was a composer, suffragette and writer known for her passionate public and private life.
Born on 23rd April 1858 Ethel developed an interest in music from a young age. At 12, when she learned that her governess had studied music at the Leipzig Conservatory in Germany, she decided that was where she needed to go.
Unfortunately her father saw things differently, and was completely against the idea. He even stopped her music lessons to try and change her mind. Ethel was having none of it, and over the next seven years she persistently pressured her father; refusing to eat, locking herself in her room, skipping church and other social occasions until he finally gave in! At the age of 19 she finally left to attend the music school.