Wow, thanks folks. I really didn't expect such a response! Becky in Tucson, you said, "Perhaps Norma would prefer consideration of these people as singers in their own right, rather than sources of songs". This seems to hit the nail on the head, and fits in with the current thinking in song books and in Topic's 'Voice of the People', telling the stories of those from whom songs were collected, putting their songs in the context of their lives, attempting to explain how the songs were meaningful to them. This is in contrast to previous books and CDs, where the 'source singers' were simply names, more or less anonymous conduits for the traditional song. I'm not sure how successful these attempts to contextualise the songs in singers' lives have been, as the late 19th / early 20th century collectors often gave us little (or no!) biography to go on, but I can see why the attempt was made.
Richard Bridge, I'm seeing Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick tonight. On the slight chance that I get to chat with Martin (as it's not at a folk club, but an arts centre), I will ask him.
12-stringer: "What the hell is wrong with saying, "I learned this song from ... "?" No one has suggested there is anything wrong with that. The debate is about the use and intended meaning of the term 'source singer', and the baggage that goes with it, as above.