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Shirley Collins - can she sing?

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Subject: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Joe Moran
Date: 06 Feb 04 - 01:22 PM

I've always been amazed how highly Shirley Collins is rated as a singer. I heard a track of her's on Mike Harding this week and , before I knew who it was, I was thinking what an appalling voice she had. Am I alone in thinking this way?
p.s. I saw Shirley many year's ago and thought that she just oozed sex appeal ( I just thought I'd throw that in)
p.p.s. On second thoughts, maybe that's one of the reasons she is/was rated so highly.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Emma B
Date: 06 Feb 04 - 01:50 PM

Is the Pope a Catholic
Sexually, she doesn't do a lot for me but I love to hear her sing. If I could be half as good.................


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 06 Feb 04 - 02:42 PM

I've never been impressed with Shirley Collins. Is it another case of the "Emperor's New Clothes" ?


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Rain Dog
Date: 06 Feb 04 - 03:23 PM

She sings, she sings , she sings.

Do I like it ? Do I like it Do I like it ?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Next.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,ClaireBear
Date: 06 Feb 04 - 03:29 PM

If one is one who likes breathy voices, one probably likes Shirley Collins more than one who doesn't. It's not my cup of tea, but I'd never say she couldn't sing on that basis.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 06 Feb 04 - 03:38 PM

I know what you mean about the standard of her singing, I think she's a singer you need to experience live, especially when it was her and sister Dolly. She/they have an air of authenticity which overcomes most of the vocal flaws. Some people just don't come over well on record, Noel Murphy is another, great live, didn't come across on vinyl.
John


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Phil Cooper
Date: 06 Feb 04 - 03:42 PM

I'm using someone else's computer and it's not accepting my cookie. I like Shirley Collins' singing, but can understand why some people don't. What I liked about her recordings was that she sang the songs straight, without messing with them, even with experimental arrangements. Just bought her 4 cd boxed set and really liked hearing some of those songs again.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: bazza
Date: 06 Feb 04 - 04:03 PM

I think Shirley has a great folk voice,o.k not as polished as some but she can put a song across in a very special way on the traditional sussex songs that no other singer can .


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Feb 04 - 04:11 PM

Some people like processed cheese better than real cheese.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Ooh-Aah
Date: 06 Feb 04 - 04:12 PM

I strongly agree with Phil Cooper - she sings songs straight and simply, without any over-clever fiddling around. I think she has an exquisite and beautiful voice, and of all English female folk singers comes closest to what I consider the 'real thing', by which I mean that you could really imagine some country girl in the 1790s sounding like that. Not that I would claim that this is the only relevant kind of folk music of course!


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Morticia
Date: 06 Feb 04 - 04:29 PM

just goes to show how subjective this is ( liking a particular voice, I mean).....I don't care for her voice at all and for years wondered if I was the only one....I'm kind of glad it isn't just me.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Lanfranc
Date: 06 Feb 04 - 07:10 PM

Yes, judgements like this are subjective. Subjectively I have always liked Shirley's voice, and respected her integrity as a folk singer. She wouldn't make it in opera, or even in musicals, her voice is far too slight and "breathy", but she can inject more feeling and sincerity into a song than many singers I could name.

Wish I could hear her live again!

Alan


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Feb 04 - 07:32 PM

It's not a concert hall or pop stage voice. It's essentially a voice for an ordinary room, where the songs she used to sing really belong. The flattened vowels, the breathy voice, they can cast a spell.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Rain Dog
Date: 06 Feb 04 - 07:37 PM

This a a subject close to my heart. I do not know the work of Shirley Collins at all but I like this subject of ' feeling and sincerity' that people bring to a song.

Nearly everyone we hear singing is a performer of some kind. Singers sing the same song a number of times. They step up to the mic ( or not as the case may be ) and put on a performance, an act so to speak. We hear the song and are moved by it ( or not ). We probably all have favourite singers who we think have more feeling and sincerity. But is it ?


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: breezy
Date: 06 Feb 04 - 08:16 PM

an acquired ear! like Martin Carthy.
Well not that good.
She sings like she talks, it sounds the same, but the tune is there.
It is her 'sound'
Quintesentially English





is that the way it's spelt

Takes some getting used to.
took her to the pictures in Stoke I did.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Nemesis
Date: 07 Feb 04 - 04:45 AM

Interesting question; a few years ago, when I was beginning formal (classical?) singing training - and being thrown in the deep end with an accapella trio performing Choral arrangements of folk music, my voice was referred as "like Shirley Collins'," with the hasty added rider, "... at her best, of course!"

This, from another student of Tona de Brett's who trained Annie Lennox - who, of course, can "sing" perfectly.

Strictly speaking, I think Shirley, theoretically, can't sing in the classically trained sense of the word ... but, in practice, she has a unique "voice".


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 07 Feb 04 - 05:17 AM

If you listen to a lot of Shiley's recordings, you too will hear the depth and beauty in her renditions of REAL folk music, and the beauty and simplicity of Dolly's arrangements.
Still a beautiful woman and singer.
eric


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser)
Date: 07 Feb 04 - 07:53 AM

Is this a trick question?


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: harvey andrews
Date: 07 Feb 04 - 09:45 AM

I think the problem isn't with Shirley, but with some of the young female singers who have followed in her wake. The flat, unemotional, little girl voice of these English female singers I find as unappetizing as the over the top, ersatz emotion of the pop divas. There's a middle ground where the voice not only sings the notes but sings the story, adding colour, emphasis and emotion where needed, without exaggeration.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 07 Feb 04 - 10:24 AM

Authenticity is where it's at, Harvey has it sussed. As they say.
John


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Feb 04 - 10:48 AM

Shirley Collins gave up performing around 20 years ago before the CD era started. Near enough everything that was issued on vinyl has now been put out on CD. Near enough everything she recorded that was not issued at the time has now been put out on CD. Firms don't keep putting out CD's of singers if nobody buys them. Her old vinyl recordings fetch mega prices.
Those who don't like her voice probably have no idea what a real traditional singer should sound like and should be listening to other types of music.
If you like traditional music the answer is "Yes, she can sing"


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 07 Feb 04 - 10:50 AM

"The flat, unemotional, little girl voice of these English female singers I find as unappetizing as the over the top, ersatz emotion of the pop divas...", says Harvey

I have a pretty good idea of just who I would lump into both these categories, but surely you don't mean to rubbish *all* who have followed Shirley Collins?

Come on, name names. You surely cannot be including Chris Coe, Maggies Boyle and Holland, Norma and Lal Waterson, June Tabor, Nancy and Sandra Kerr, Frankie Armstong, Peta Webb, Sandy Denny, Eliza Carthy or Fay Hield ?


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: treewind
Date: 07 Feb 04 - 11:01 AM

Don't panic CR, he did say "some of the young female singers who have followed in her wake." (my emphasis)

I can think of some examples. They aren't on your list....

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Auldtimer
Date: 07 Feb 04 - 11:03 AM

A singer is someone who can "put over" a song in a way that will make you listen. Good, great, fabulous, voices of high musical quality, range, purity and integrity are everywhere but the majority of these voices are cold, featureless and unmemorable. It is easier to get a grip of something with a rough surface that one with a smooth surface so the imperfections and flaws, the twists and turns, the limitations of the singer's breathing and hearing is what your brain gets to grip on. What you like and don't like is something else. As for modern day singers, they all rely far too much on microphones and amplyfiers. They might have great stage pressance and good microphone technique but most of them cannie sing.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 07 Feb 04 - 11:10 AM

Anahata: I'm not going to be so cruel as to mention who Harvey might have been getting at.

But I am reminded <sound of wrists being soundly slapped> that I omitted Mary Humphreys from my list (meaning of those who shouldn't be on Harvey's).
    Angle brackets made visible by HTML wizardry.
    -Joe Offer, resident wizard-


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: greg stephens
Date: 07 Feb 04 - 11:21 AM

Countess Richard: a very tactful list! No, I'm sure those are not the names Harvey was thinking of. I think we can all use our imaginations and guess who he was referring to.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 07 Feb 04 - 11:33 AM

A subject best veered away from perhaps, Greg. I added a comment to my last post referring to the sound of wrists being soundly slapped at my unforgivable omission of Mary Humphreys. I now know that Mudcat's html problems extend to an arbitrary absence of taste.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Compton
Date: 07 Feb 04 - 11:35 AM

I'm in the "Shirley Collins CAN sing" camp but like AL Lloyd, Vin Garbutt, Kate Rusby , I am not sure I want to hear two hours of it!!
The again, they might not want to hear two hours of me!!


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: harvey andrews
Date: 07 Feb 04 - 11:50 AM

I chose my words carefully and stick by them.
"some of the young"
No names, no packdrill on this thread.However the Countess's list does seem to be of the over 40's and contains many of my favourites.
Does anyone remember The Watersons single "rubber band"? Lal's song on the B side made my hair stand on end. A masterwork of writing and presentation coming from both the heart and the head.
Maybe there's too much emphasis on the head these days on the degree courses etc and the heart is maybe frowned on by the younger generation as a form of revolt against the diva excesses.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Marje
Date: 07 Feb 04 - 01:08 PM

I'm with those who don't really take to Shirley Collins' singing, and it's quite a relief to me to find I'm not alone. I know she's a lovely person and has done so much for folk music, but on recordings, there's a sort of girly coyness and self-consciousness about her singing that(for me) gets in the way of the song and its meaning. It doesn't come across as particularly "authentic" to me, just a bit dull and expressionless. If it helps others to enjoy the songs, that's fine, but I'm afraid it doesn't do it for me at all. I prefer to listen to a gutsier voice such as Norma Waterson or Maddy Prior.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 07 Feb 04 - 01:39 PM

Well to draw a bow at a venture as they say. I never liked Joan Baez's voice, too stagey to unemotional. However it's now nearly 40 years since I first heard her sing on a folk festival at Newport vinyl album, and she's now an elder statesperson of folk, and I'm still listening to albums with no chance of making one. What does that say about me?? [Be gentle!]
John


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 07 Feb 04 - 03:13 PM

Singers starting out are influenced by who they hear. When I first heard Shirley sing, it reminded me of children singing at primary school. I was already singing in my secondary school choir, and was probably most influenced by Sandy Denny. I also admired June Tabor and Chris Coe, and was thinking however hard I tried I'd never sound like either of them, so probably shouldn't try.

The best compliment I ever got paid about my singing was that it calmed an autistic child. But if you do a Google search on Kitty Vernon you'll find the Living Tradition review that says I'm not a folksinger.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Teresa
Date: 08 Feb 04 - 01:36 AM

Well, as to whether she can sing, that's subjective, and I respect that. However ...

What Guest Auldtimer so beautifully said above.

Teresa


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: mooman
Date: 08 Feb 04 - 07:14 AM

Having seen her perform many times, I'd say this is a another of those very subjective questions that have an unfortunate habit of cropping up here.

She can sing very well, did the best version of "Reynardine" I ever heard and is a jolly nice person to boot (even remembered chatting to me from a gig some five years earlier).

All IMHO of course.

Peace

moo


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: breezy
Date: 08 Feb 04 - 10:34 AM

Kitty Vernon is a fine singer and performer of Folk and other songs

She is a highlight of a visit to the Herga Folk club

If she is not there I always feel cheated.

I will book her to sing at my club[s]

I did but she's off to a middle bar thingy so I'll have to sort out another date.

She is the biz for me.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 08 Feb 04 - 12:55 PM

Shirley is more authentically a folk singer than anyone else mentioned in this thread so far.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 08 Feb 04 - 01:23 PM

She is wonderful in a small folk club with no amplification.

I am not her greatest fan but I do like her a lot. And she really is a lovely person.

Dave
www.collectorsfolk.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Jeanie
Date: 08 Feb 04 - 01:58 PM

The ability to "live" a song and become the character telling the story is, to me, what makes a singer of whatever style of music. I reckon the people mentioned above have that quality in abundance.

After that, I think it must be all down to personal taste. I have always preferred the more 'gutsy', powerful, alto voices as opposed to the 'girlie' soprano ones, which to my ears can often sound a bit on the thin, nasal side.

Nobody has mentioned Toni Arthur yet - she always sounded superb to me.

- jeanie


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Nerd
Date: 08 Feb 04 - 02:09 PM

Uh, GUEST of 07 Feb 04 - 10:48 AM:

I can think of two flaws to your statement that

"Firms don't keep putting out CD's of singers if nobody buys them" answers the question of "can she sing?" First of all, many people buy CDs of people who I think can't sing.   Secondly, even I buy CDs of people who's singing I don't like that much, and Shirley is an example. I find her singing pretty bland, but she has collected and presented some stellar songs, and the arrangements are often interesting. So I've bought most of her CDs, despite not liking her singing much.

I would also dispute your statement that "those who don't like her voice probably have no idea what a real traditional singer should sound like and should be listening to other types of music." In general I would rather listen to many field recordings of real traditional singers than to Shirley Collins. There are many people who know precisely what real traditional singing "should" (or more accurately, does) sound like, who still would not like Shirley's singing.

Shirley is not really a traditional singer, as the many photos of her with a Pete Seeger banjo, or with Davy Graham or the Albion Band, will confirm. She has connections to the tradition, as do other revivalists, but in the end she's no more a traditional singer than the others.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Noreen
Date: 08 Feb 04 - 02:18 PM

countess richard: I now know that Mudcat's html problems extend to an arbitrary absence of taste.
You didn't actually use any HTML, but surrounded your comment in triangular brackets, which will be ignored as HTML is expected.

And to answer the question- SC can sing, but I don't particularly like her style.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 08 Feb 04 - 02:51 PM

Ah, Noreen, are you one of those clones? Maybe when you have time you could pm me with instructions on how to make text editing work properly in these boxes? Sometimes it does for me but often it doesn't .


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Feb 04 - 02:54 PM

"rather listen to many field recordings of real traditional singers"

But surely, all you are hearing in field recordings is a snapshot of one or two people singing at a given time, as authentic a snapshot as any recording from today really. What qualifies that recording of that particular person to be labelled "real"? We have no idea how songs were sung before recording and I'm sure some singers acted them, some projected them, some droned them and some sang them reflectively. The notes are not written down as in opera, the singers are not trained to sing in a particular way.As a lad I heard all sorts of songs performed in all sorts of styles at the family do's I went to. It seems to me we cannot say anyone is more a "traditional" singer than any other. It's just what is fashionable at the time. Otherwise the songs are museum pieces and the folk process is over, and the singers are just the same as people who belong to history re-enactment groups.
There is no right way, and we come back again to what each person or historical period or generation, likes.
We cannot claim there is a folk process and then also claim that evrything is set in stone. It's a contradiction. Surely?


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Joe Moran(UK)
Date: 08 Feb 04 - 02:58 PM

One of the problems with Shirley - for me, is that would never play a recording of hers to a non-folkie in fear that they would break up laughing, AND, if that happened, I wouldn't be prepared to jump to her defence. Now if I played Tommy Jarrell, and they laughed, I'd order them out of the house!!!


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 08 Feb 04 - 03:02 PM

"Otherwise the songs are museum pieces and the folk process is over, and the singers are just the same as people who belong to history re-enactment groups".

If only those who advocate this ludicrous appraoch would just go away and join the Sealed Knot...


Noreen: like I wanted the above quote put into italics but it won't bloody well work...help!


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Nerd
Date: 08 Feb 04 - 03:39 PM

GUEST of 2:54 PM,

GUEST of 10:48 AM yesterday introduced the concept of "real" traditional singers, and I was using it in the sense that I thought s/he meant it in.

To answer your question, I think "old-style traditional singing" is becoming rarer and rarer, and what we usually call "the revival" has essentially eaten what we usually call "the tradition." What I mean is that the aesthetic of folks like Walter Pardon is rare today, and people who like similar songs are much much more likely to sing in a revival context with revival aesthetics. I don't object to labelling the revival context a continuation of the tradition, but we should realize that some different aesthetic principles are involved. In other words, you can say that the revival IS today's tradition, but that doesn't mean it is the same aesthetically as Walter Pardon's tradition. You're quite right that WP's aesthetic may be quite different to what was fashionable 100 yrs before that, although the surviving documents like the Copper Family's book suggest that aesthetic change went slower in the 19th century.

GUEST of 10:48 AM yesterday (maybe you're the same GUEST?) said that if we did not like Shirley Collins we did not know what a "real" traditional singer should sound like. I assumed when s/he introduced the concept of "real" s/he was referring to some of the old-style traditional singers, whom as I said I often prefer to Shirley. Thus my answer above.

If s/he was instead referring to the folk revival, I would argue that Shirley is not by and large representative of that crowd either; she is neither typical of the older tradition nor of the newer tradition. Given this, what a singer "should" sound like is irrelevant. If you like Sandy Denny and Anne Briggs and Norma Waterson but don't like Shirley Collins, you know as well as the Shirley Collins fan what a folk revival (or "new-style traditional") singer "should" sound like. It's really just down to taste, and there's no "should" about it. Nor is it kind to tell people they ought to listen to some other style of music just because they don't like yesterday's GUEST's favorite singer.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Lancashire Lad
Date: 09 Feb 04 - 03:53 AM

What a big question!!

IMO opinion, Shirley can sing and her voice is delightful. I would say though, that it took me quite a long time before I appreciated voice. Essentially her voice is natural and certainly untrained. Her voice is often described as "willowy" which seems apt and I think perfectly suited for much of the material she chose to sing.
At the end of the day liking or disliking a voice is a very subjective matter.
I'm sure there are many people who still say Bob Dylan cannot sing and you could probably add Robin Williamson, Sam Larner, Tom Waits, Walter Pardon, Norma Waterson, Leon Rosselson and many others to such a list. However for me, all these add to the rich tapestry of music that we all love and all have a place in my collection. Personally I do not like operatic voices finding them too studied and formal, but I would never argue that Caruso cannot sing. It's just that I dont like his style.
To return to the original message in the thread, Seeing as Shirley was in there at the beginning of the folk revival and has been cited as an influence on other singers from then till now, its a little too late to be saying "Emporers new clothes"

LL


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 09 Feb 04 - 05:59 AM

Norma Waterson can't sing????????????

Err...where are you coming from?


Increase the medication is my advice!! :-)


Dave
www.collectorsfolk.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 09 Feb 04 - 06:18 AM

And another pill for Walter Pardon, and Robin Williamson.

I'd agree Dylan, Tom Waits and Leon Rosselson are not great technical singers - but they sure more than compensate for that in composition, content and presentation.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Lancashire Lad
Date: 09 Feb 04 - 07:25 AM

Sorry for any possible misunderstanding.
The comments about Dylan, Norma, et al are NOT my personal opinion, but they are opinions I have heard voiced by others (who should know better)

LL


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Morticia
Date: 09 Feb 04 - 07:35 AM

Countess Richard, if you go to the FAQ, I think there is basic html there but italics are made by using the triangle bracket, an i, then close it with the other triangle ( what are those little suckers called?) and then to end the italics, the same with /i.....if you want bold, substitute b, colour, subsitute the colour number from a html chart and so on.

Re: Shirley Collins, it is interesting the way so many have so got defensive over what is purely, IMO, personal taste.I can't stand Celine Dion or Brocolli Spears but apparently millions would disagree with me, that doesn't make them right or me wrong.....it's purely subjective.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 09 Feb 04 - 07:49 AM

Thanks very much, Morticia. I'll struggle with it again. I really am rubbish at programming!

Yes, if you don't happen to like what an artist does, all you have to do is go and listen to someone you do (rats!!! look at this word sideways as it's meant to be in italics) like. No-one's forcing you...


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,T-boy
Date: 09 Feb 04 - 08:10 AM

I can remember the first time I heard Shirley Collins - it was late at night on the radio in about 1968.

I was entranced immediately and have been totally hooked ever since.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Feb 04 - 09:11 AM

"One of the problems with Shirley - for me, is that would never play a recording of hers to a non-folkie in fear that they would break up laughing, AND, if that happened, I wouldn't be prepared to jump to her defence. Now if I played Tommy Jarrell, and they laughed, I'd order them out of the house!!!" (Joe Moran)

If I played Shirley Collins' recording of The Whitsun Dance to someone, and they laughed at it, I'd definitely feel like ordering them out of the house. And even if I didn't do that, I wouldn't be asking them back in a hurry.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Feb 04 - 09:32 AM

I think it's probably quite easy in here to forget that you're not down the pub having a chat with mates you're broadcasting publicly and that some of the comments about the abilities and output of musicians could be quite upsetting.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,GUEST
Date: 09 Feb 04 - 09:38 AM

Who is Tommy Jarrell?


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Feb 04 - 09:39 AM

No, that is why people think she is authentic.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Morris-ey
Date: 09 Feb 04 - 09:55 AM

She enunciates words intelligibly, at the correct pitch and tempo, therefore she can sing. But I like the sound of her voice in much the same way as that of Jim Moray i.e. it drives me up the wall.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 09 Feb 04 - 10:58 AM

Arguments like this are usually unresolvable.    We all like what we like, don't like what we don't like, and find it hard to see why others don't agree with us. Beyond that, there's not much more to say. Nevertheless, there are a few points I'd like to contribute to the discussion.

Shirley Collins was a professional singer for many years. She did a lot of gigs, made a lot of broadcasts, recorded a lot of disks. It's true (and hardly surprising) that some of these were not as good as others. But anyone who's ever performed in public knows how easily a whole range of factors – from inexperience, poor choice of material and limited rehearsal time, to coughs, colds, and sore throats - can produce a less than perfect result.

So, we should not judge performers by occasional weak performances, but by the quality of their very best efforts. By those standards, Shirley deserves respect – even from those who do not find her voice, her delivery or her repertoire appealing. Her best work (for example on "Anthems in Eden", or "No Roses") has won critical acclaim and enduring popularity - as countless reviews, and the regular re-issues of her records testify.

And yes, for what it's worth, I do like her singing. I play her records frequently, and would cheerfully pay to hear her performing live if she were still doing gigs. But that's a matter of personal taste, and I have no quarrel with anyone who thinks differently.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Feb 04 - 12:26 PM

"...it is interesting the way so many have so got defensive over what is purely, IMO, personal taste."

Maybe the right word here is protective rather than defensive.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Shirley Collins
Date: 10 Feb 04 - 12:09 PM

Of course I can sing you cheeky monkeys.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: red max
Date: 11 Feb 04 - 05:11 AM

Why did she retire? Was it connected to her sister's death? I wonder what she does these days


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 11 Feb 04 - 05:22 AM

I've kept out of this discussion up to now because I've always loved Shirley's singing (and fancied her like mad many years ago when she was living in Blackheath and I used to drive her back from the odd gig).

I think that over the last thirty years or so, the folk scene has tended to "standardise" singing styles - including that of unaccompanied traditional material. This is not surprising when the vast majority of performers (including me) are revivalist folksong singers. What we tend to forget is that the original traditional singers (or those nearer that point) all had their own vastly differing styles because there were not the unifying influences that folk clubs, recordings, radio & TV, and even more recently the internet have tended to impose.

Shirley was at the fore-front of the sixties folk revival and, greatly to her credit, retained her original basic singing style, which is much nearer to what she would have heard from traditional singers in her native Sussex. She was never an egotistical or pushy performer - rather the opposite, as she could be quite nervous about singing. Her sister Dolly always seemed to be much more confident, and I often feel that this tended to help Shirley to produce some of her best recordings with her.

It would be very unfair to compare the singing styles of "The Copper Family" with "Coope, Boyes & Simpson" or "Artisan", and the same goes for Shirley and many contemporary female singers. It is exactly for this reason that it is so refreshing to hear songs sung with that simplicity, clarity, and almost naivety that is so typical of many of Shirley's recordings.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge
Date: 11 Feb 04 - 05:43 AM

I `ad that Shirley Collins in my cab this morning. I said, Shirl, you gonna write your life story one day? She said , nah, looks like somebody `as already done it on Mudcat!!
Never mind, we luvs you down Kent.
What`s `e like?


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Rain Dog
Date: 11 Feb 04 - 07:39 AM

Dave Bryant wrote : What we tend to forget is that the original traditional singers (or those nearer that point) all had their own vastly differing styles because there were not the unifying influences that folk clubs, recordings, radio & TV, and even more recently the internet have tended to impose.

I have to agree with this. Modern recording methods and the internet ( and internet radio ) have made available to us all a wide range of musical styles and influences. Human nature being what what it is though, we tend to listen to the same type of things. Music that is more 'listener friendly' gets played more on radio, sells more cds and then leads to more concert tickets being sold. Music that is a bit more wayward and off the beaten track tends to get pushed to the margins. But there is a lot of interesting and rewarding stuff hiding in those margins


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Hugh Jampton
Date: 11 Feb 04 - 08:18 AM

Raindog,
       I hope this doesn`t mean we are all going to sound like Jim.`


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Bobjack
Date: 11 Feb 04 - 08:23 AM

I don't know if she can sing or not, but if she is any good at boxing, some of you lot are going to get filled in!


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 11 Feb 04 - 08:26 AM

Rain Dog

The modern "traditional" style of singing, tends to have taken bits from all over the tradition and put them together to form an "accepted" style. We are now in the position where we have "placed bricks upon bricks" and should be careful that we don't discard certain singers and styles because they don't fit the mould.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: HipflaskAndy
Date: 11 Feb 04 - 08:42 AM

Shirley Collins singing has ALWAYS been music to these ears.

Not for you? - Then don't listen.
Enjoy your own tipple.
More brandy please! HFA


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Colonel Chinstrap
Date: 11 Feb 04 - 09:06 AM

Sergeant,
          Send HipflaskAndy another large Courvoisier for his most generous and sensible comments and put on the Shirley Collins c.d. again. Its the best thing the men in the barracks have heard for ages


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Nerd
Date: 11 Feb 04 - 12:27 PM

Dave is, of course, quite right. But Shirley's singing is still more regularized than what one would expect from any traditional singer anywhere, hence my comments above.

Funnily enough, I like much traditional singing and much revival singing better than Shirley's singing, but as others have said, this is nothing but personal taste. (And I do not by any means dislike her singing, it's just not what I'd choose most times).


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 13 Feb 04 - 11:57 AM

Anyone who has even the slightest doubts concerning the singing of the Blessed Shirley Collins is hereby EXCOMMUNICATED, cast into outer darkness, damned for all eternity, and will go to bed without supper.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,lacking self confidence
Date: 13 Feb 04 - 01:39 PM

The rating of how well anyone does something (Playing/singing etc) must be rated by the amount of people who enjoy it......

I've always been amazed how highly Shirley Collins is rated as a singer. I heard a track of her's on Mike Harding this week and , before I knew who it was, I was thinking what an appalling voice she had. Am I alone in thinking this way

so the answer is yes she is a good singer but you don't like her singing - that's your choice - I just wonder why you want other people to back or oppose your opinion will you change your mind??


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Nerd
Date: 14 Feb 04 - 11:56 AM

By lacking self confidence's reckoning, Britney Spears is a MUCH better singer than June Tabor. But I don't buy it. I think there are other criteria besides the "amount of people who enjoy it."


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,lacking self confidence
Date: 14 Feb 04 - 12:18 PM

How else can you judge quality other than popularity in ratio to exposure??

You could say "technically" but by whose standards????

Of course you could argue quality over popularity e.g. big Macs might be popular - and not good for you (they still can be at the top when it comes to the quality of burgers though) - but if they're the most popular food variety chosen by a large quantity of people they must taste "good" to the individuals otherwise they wouldn't keep buying them.

Going back to the original thread topic and question "Shirley Collins - can she sing?" The answer must be yes! because everyone can sing - maybe the question was phrased wrong - maybe it should have been "Do you like the way Shirley Collins sings?" or do you like "Shirley Collin's voice?"

QED people vote by buying CDs going to Concerts etc etc.... so by being popular and commanding a following it must mean a lot of people like the way she sings - and we've already established she can sing so now we know not only that she can sing but a lot of people enjoy her singing - but will these facts change the individuals opinion of whether they like her singing or not - I presume not!


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Nerd
Date: 15 Feb 04 - 01:21 AM

Guest LSC,

My point is, Shirley Collins isn't very popular. Very few people have ever heard of her, or bought any of her records. The vast audiences you seem to think confirm her star quality would embarrass any major label act.

In fact, there are plenty of traditions, such as joikking, eephing, musical saw, etc., where no artist has ever become popular. This does not mean they aren't good artists. You slipped a new concept into your last post, btw: popularity "in ratio to exposure." But this doesn't help us that much either. After all, most people in the world have heard of folk music, but few actually listen to it. So it has had a great deal of exposure, but little acceptance. Does this mean it is generally bad? I don't think so.

The fact is, the world is made up of communities, and these communities have aesthetic standards. Shirley could be popular among the group of folk enthusiasts because she fits their aesthetic. This, in a sense, is the answer to your rhetorical question above: "You could say "technically" but by whose standards???? Well, by the standards of a given community. Thus, a good Joikker is one whom the Saami people think does a good job at joikking. A good singer in folk music is one whom folk audiences enjoy. THIS is what you seem to be getting at. But if her popularity is because of quality, it's only a symptom of the fact that she IS satisfying people's aesthetic needs. She's not good because she's popular, she's popular because she's good, and the "goodness" resides a set of aesthetic principles of a given community. These can be discovered and discussed intelligently, and we don't have to pretend that the sales figures are the only measure of artistic merit.

What your analysis lacks, by the way, is that there are other reasons besides aesthetic ones for which something may be popular. There are powerful forces of both "marketing" and "authority" that help items gain popularity within their communities, even if they don't satisfy the aesthetic that well.

Your own example works fine. McDonald's is relentlessly marketed. It's popular NOT because it's so good, but because it's a familiar name and it's associated with familiar, consistent food that you can get cheaply and quickly. Familiarity, comfort, consistency, price and speed turn out to be more important to people than pure aesthetic enjoyment. McDonald's knows this, and therefore emphasizes consistency, speed, price, and making themselves familiar through advertising. In fact, if it were really so popular just because it naturally tasted so good, they wouldn't need to put so many ads on. It's the ads that make it popular, not the taste.

Authority tends to work a little differently. Let's take the bestseller lists. Books often get on there that I do not believe all that many people actually read. They buy the book because there is a "buzz" created partly by marketing, but partly by authority: so and so in the Times said this book was good. In the US, daytime TV host Oprah Winfrey literally made authors into overnight millionaires when she started a "book club," recommending certain works. The books all ended up on the bestseller lists. They may have been good, but that wasn't why they made the list!

Folk music is less popular than pop not because it is objectively worse, but largely because it isn't compatible with the kind of marketing pop gets, and because most authoritative organs of the larger culture (The Times, etc) marginalize it. Within the general English community, folk has neither big marketing nor the cachet of authority.

However, within the much smaller folk music community, Shirley had both. To the extent that things were "marketed" in the 50s-60s folk world, Shirley was. She was talked up in music magazines, was of course tremendously sexy (as several on this thread have attested to) and generally "buzzed" about. At the same time, she was a protegee not only of Bert Lloyd but of Alan Lomax as well, making her the favorite folk artist of those seen as authoritative in folk circles. So and so in the Times said she was good, and she was on the cover of every folk magazine, etc., etc. This could easily explain her success within a small community like the folk world, even if people DIDN'T love her singing all that much; or perhaps they DO love it, but they wouldn't have if not for the marketing and authority.

Note that Shirley is ONLY popular in this small context, with its isolated marketing outlets and it isolated authorities. Put her up against even the crappiest spice girls wannabe group, and Shirley sells less product. Is this because she's bad? Or is it because she wasn't marketed or authorized in the pop world? I'd say the latter.

Within the small folk context, was she popular because she was good? Or because she WAS marketed and authorized? Hard to say...certainly sales figures on her CDs can't tell you!


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Jim Ward
Date: 15 Feb 04 - 05:25 AM

I don't think Shirley was a protege of Bert Lloyd. I could be wrong but I think Anne Briggs was the favourite of the Lloyd/McColl circle.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Reply to Nerd - by name
Date: 15 Feb 04 - 05:48 AM

Nerd that wasn't the thread topic!!!

The thread topic was Shirley Collins - can she Sing. the answer was proven above - Yes

Lacking self Confidence said - "popularity in ratio to exposure" correct

Nerd said: "Folk music is less popular than pop not because it is objectively worse" - what? Folk is less popular because less people like it! otherwise it would be POPular music....

Good or Bad don't come into it they are personal "ideas" whats good to me maybe bad to you - the more people think some thing is good the more popular it becomes!!!! So if you "need" a reference ----

Popular is good.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Lighter
Date: 15 Feb 04 - 12:59 PM

Seems like music sponsored by Hitler, Stalin, and Mao was *real* popular for a while, in huge communities. Not that Marketing or Authority could have had anything to do with it...!

Nerd is correct. Aesthetics results from both personal and community forces, not all of them by any means restricted to artistry.

Just to stay on topic: I bought my first Collins LP because I was interested in English folksong both personally and academically, uninfluenced by the social dynamics of the English folk scene. I thought the match-up of her self-effacing style and her trad material was nearly perfect. It did seem to come from another time.

Her later performances of jazzier material are less appealing because what seems appropriately self-effacing in one musical context can seem bland and listless in another.

Collins's "trad" singing has a warm, straightforward, and naive quality that I personally enjoy.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Nerd
Date: 15 Feb 04 - 01:09 PM

Jim:

Lloyd and MacColl had different circles, which sometimes overlapped, so there wasn't really a Lloyd/MacColl circle at all.   Frankie Armstrong was in both. Anne Briggs was a favorite of Lloyd. Shirley was praised and helped along by both in her early career, moreso Lloyd I believe. If you look at Folk Roots, New Routes, for example, you'll see songs she learned from both Lloyd and MacColl.

Later on as the folk scene developed new "authorities" like Ashley "The Guv'nor" Hutchings, Shirley Collins remained associated with them.

Guest Reply by name,

On the one hand you say "Good or Bad don't come into it," on the other "popular is good."

That's a contradiction.

Your other point, that it's all really personal taste, I accept.

Guest LSC was trying to say that sales figures on Shirley's albums automatically meant she was good. I was saying "not so." Beyond that, none of us here even knows what those sales figures are.

My point was that there are other things that make something popular besides being good. If I went around and distributed free copies of a CD, and I distributed a lot of them, there would be many people who had them. It would not make them good. Therefore, price can help. If I spent a lot to market something, a lot of people might buy it, even if it was dreadful. And if authority figures urged people to buy something, they might do so, once again even if they themselves thought it was dreadful, or found out it was dreadful after buying it. None of these forms of popularity makes anything good.

Satisfying community aesthetic standards, one could argue, makes something good to that community. But we have not established through this small sample here whether Shirley really does that.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: s & r
Date: 15 Feb 04 - 01:33 PM

"If I went around and distributed free copies of a CD, and I distributed a lot of them, there would be many people who had them. It would not make them good. Therefore, price can help. If I spent a lot to market something, a lot of people might buy it, even if it was dreadful. And if authority figures urged people to buy something, they might do so, once again even if they themselves thought it was dreadful, or found out it was dreadful after buying it. None of these forms of popularity makes anything good."

Above exmple doesn't match with definition - nor Thread topic!!


Popular Definition:   [adj] (of music or art) new and of general appeal (especially among young people)
[adj] representing or appealing to or adapted for the benefit of the people at large; "democratic art forms"; "a democratic or popular movement"; "popular thought"; "popular science"; "popular fiction"
[adj] carried on by or for the people (or citizens) at large; "the popular vote"; "popular representation"; "institutions of popular government"
[adj] comprehensible to the general public; "written for the popular press in plain nontechnical language"
[adj] regarded with great favor, approval, or affection especially by the general public; "a popular tourist attraction"; "a popular girl"; "cabbage patch dolls are no longer popular"


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 15 Feb 04 - 01:43 PM

By the time she made "Folk Routes New Routes" Shirley was well established and had made at least two LP's. Her major influence was more likely to be Alan Lomax with whom she fell in love and went collecting with to the USA.(1959). It was MacColl who introduced them. But she had been singing with her elder sister since the age of 16 (1951).

Regards,

Dave
www.collectorsfolk.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Nerd
Date: 15 Feb 04 - 03:38 PM

I wasn't arguing influence of these individuals on Shirley, folkiedave. I was arguing that the authority of certain individuals who liked her work might have influenced her popularity within the revival as much as aesthetic criteria did. I specifically mentioned Lomax as one of these people, in addition to Lloyd. Jim Ward added MacColl to the mix as well.

s & r:

by that definition Shirley is not popular at all. Which I believe was my point, too. To say "popularity equals good art" is also saying "folk music is bad art." Since I don't buy the second proposition, I am forced to reject the first as well.

My point about the freely distributed CD was that LSC had claimed that Shirley having sold many albums was

1) a measure of popular appeal

and therefore

2) a measure of quality.

I was arguing that it was neither. A low priced item may sell well but still have limited appeal and be of low quality. The free item was reducing this idea to its extreme. Beyond that were my points about marketing and authority to which no-one has responded except Lighter, to agree with them.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 15 Feb 04 - 05:07 PM

Np..........

Dave


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: vectis
Date: 15 Feb 04 - 05:41 PM

Shirley sang in my club not very long ago and she hasn't lost her touch. She can certainly still sing.

She has the same philosophy as the Coppers towards the songs. The songs are what counts and the job of the singer is to get it across to the audience. The singer should not try to dominate the song and take it over, rather to present it to others to make of it what they will. This can make her appear a bit diffident when performing but does not lessen the quality of her singing.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: red max
Date: 16 Feb 04 - 05:32 AM

You mean she hasn't retired?


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Hugh Jampton
Date: 16 Feb 04 - 05:32 AM

The origin of this thread is "Shirley collins-can she sing?"
Surely the one and only response should have been, "Yes she can. She delights some of us, now lets move on!"


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 16 Feb 04 - 05:37 AM

To the one who started this thread, your Buggsy told me he loves Shirley Collins and you are now in deep shit.
eric


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: TheBigPinkLad
Date: 09 Jul 04 - 06:34 PM

You can get an earful of Shirley on this week's Mike Harding show still available for a few days here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/

Click on 'Folk and Country.' She's singing with the Albion Band at around 16:46:00


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 Jul 04 - 06:19 AM

well we won't that against her.

i just can't figure people who question an artist's validity when the dedication they have shown has spanned decades.

Delacroix (famous paiter) said to be a poet at twenty is to be twenty, to still be a poet at forty is to be a poet


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Jared
Date: 14 Nov 04 - 10:27 AM

Shirley Collins remains a beautiful lady with a beautiful voice in spite of any negative review. Really, is this topic one so worthy a forum? If I could build a time machine..........


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Tradsinger
Date: 14 Nov 04 - 01:38 PM

Being new to Mudcat, I hadn't see this thread before but I would like to throw in my fourpennyworth. Can Shirley sing? - of course. However, I'm surprised though that no-one has raised the question of accent. I was asked by a non-folkie some time back why folksingers 'put on an accent'. I pondered this for a while and realised that what threw this non-folkie was precisely that folk singers DON'T put on an accent - they sound best when singing with their normal speaking accent, be it regional or otherwise, whereas in most other forms of music - opera, church choirs, C & W, pop, the singers are definitely putting on an accent, to the extent that if someone sings with their normal English accent, it now sounds strange to those who don't understand the idiom. That said, I have to say that there are some English singers, even some well-known ones (no names, no pack-drill) who put on strange versions of English accents, certainly not singing in the way they speak but in some version of how they perceive they ought to be speaking as a 'true folkie'.

Back in 196* and exploring folksong, I got used to Dylan, Seeger, Peter, Paul & Mary etc, and assumed that was how folksongs were sung. When I heard Shirley sing in her gentle Sussex accent, my first reaction was 'what's that?' but I then realised what it was all about and that opened the way for me to accept other singers with regional British accents. Jolly good, I say! Just listen to the variety of natural accents on 'Voice of the People'.

Another point about Shirley's singing is that it is of more the intimate, around-the-kitchen-table type of delivery and not the 'big' concert style, (although her voice does carry surprisingly well.) I have heard singers of both types, even within the same traditional singing family. Both have their place.

Finally, let me say that Shirley's singing has given me and many more much pleasure, so for me that's an end to the argument.

Gwilym


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,eliza c
Date: 14 Nov 04 - 07:02 PM

I like what Shirley does. I thought my Mum used to put on a weird sort of (UK)South-West accent thing that I thought was very embarrassing when I was little-sort of curling her "r"s a bit, I suppose it sounded more country to her. I don't think she did it on purpose, she doesn't do it any more. Dad's 60s/70s nasal, slidy thing makes me laugh and him cringe in a corner, but people still like it and see it as highly technical and authentic. Is it an accent, or a mannerism? Whatever it is, I prefer a person's singing accent to be as close to their speaking one as possible-one of the problems I have always had with Nick Cave, though I like his songs. I fondly imagine Tom Waits speaking like he has marbles in his voice box...!!
Someone said that Shirley's voice conjured to them someone singing from 1790-but who's to say there weren't operatic or declamatory singers around then? Singing is such an emotional experience, even for wee milkmaids back then...?
x eliza c


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Nov 04 - 08:25 PM

anyway..
how many singers actually like the sound
of their own vouces..????


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Nov 04 - 08:40 PM

voices


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: BB
Date: 15 Nov 04 - 03:56 PM

As someone from the South West, Eliza, I really must listen to some of your Mum's earlier recordings again - I can't say I ever noticed any 'arrrs'! Just thought she was a wonderful singer. And, personally, I'd have said your Dad's was more mannerism than accent, but you and he would know that better than anyone else.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Graham Pirt
Date: 15 Nov 04 - 05:06 PM

Not visited here for a long time but was fascinated by the thread. I'd like to know what people mean by 'sing'. Do they mean the voice, the performance, the emotion, the interest shown by the audience, the popularity, CD sales - just what do they mean? Why do we have to have discussions about being able to sing or not? It is meaningless. I can think of singers that I don't particularly enjoy listening to - however, plenty of other people do. We need the rich tapestry of variation or we would end up with a mass produced pop culture.

As far as I'm concerned Shirley is a wonderful example of her style of singing and I love to listen to her. I don't feel I have to convince anyone else that I'm right. I'm just happy to take my own enjoyment from it.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Shirley Collins
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 04:06 AM

Bugger off the lot of you!


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 04:48 AM

Nah then Shirl behave thissen.

eric


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 06:11 AM

Yes she can.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 06:12 AM

oh, 100 by the way.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 09:58 AM

Is that your age ted or the IQ of Hull ?

eric


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 12:30 PM

She has never been able to sing, and shames the whole folk scene


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 12:46 PM

What a bizarre and petty and hateful comment to pointlessly resurrect an ancient thread with. "Shames the whole folk scene"?!! Fuck off, you odious, cowardly little shit.

Couldn't a moderator just close this thread please?

It's particularly pointless (and potentially hurtful) given the fact that - whether you liked her voice or not – Shirley Collins has been physically unable to sing for many years now.
I believe the condition might be called dysphonia, though what it's called isn't important.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Bill D
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 12:51 PM

9 years later, someone makes a special anonymous effort to be as negative as possible, with no explanation... after all the thoughtful comments.

I guess 'guest' needs a hobby to keep 'it' from roaming folk clubs and pointing out flaws.... oh, wait, was that YOU, guest?


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 12:52 PM

of course she can sing, this is dafter than tony haynes
saying i wasnt good enough to be a professional singer, and jim carroll criticising me because i did not sing in his approved style, why dont these wankers just fuck off.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 01:02 PM

She has never had a good voice. No control. Wavering all over the place and encouraging embarrassment from real singers and musicians. I had no idea of her recent illness, and am sorry to hear about that, and I am sure she is a lovely woman, but am I, as a good singer and musician, not allowed my opinion? Her dysphonia is nothing to do with her having always had a weak, uncontrolled voice. She has been very involved with the folk scene, but her voice is unlikely to attract new converts to the 'scene'.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: melodeonboy
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 01:20 PM

"..real singers and musicians", eh? Ignorant, arrogant twat!


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Elmore
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 01:29 PM

Guest guest is repetitious as well as nasty.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: breezy
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 01:30 PM

Dear soljer shrek

They were correct but then there's no accounting for taste

and no excuse for profanity

Yellow card


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 01:33 PM

"and jim carroll criticising me because..."
If you continue to stalk me, particularly on threads I have not contributed to, I will report you to the forum adjudicators.
Are you deliberately trying to sabotage these discussions?
My comments on your singing, nor your egotism have any relevance to this subject so please do not spoil it for those who wish to discuss Shirley Collins
If you post one more comment about me on one other thread I will ask you to be expelled from this forum-our egocentric behaviour has already been brought to your notice by others
Out
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 01:35 PM

That should, of course, read Your egocentric behaviour
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 01:35 PM

Your response epitomises why I will never join your small minded bigoted 'folkie' website. why ask for an opinion and then insult the respondent. keep your self-opinionated rubbish to yourself. Low standards keep folk in the backwaters.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Will Fly
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 01:41 PM

She has never had a good voice. No control. Wavering all over the place and encouraging embarrassment from real singers and musicians.

What nonsense. I'm just listening to "Pretty Saro" from her album with Davy Graham - "Folk Roots, New Routes" - as I write this. Perfectly pitched, no wavering and completely controlled - one of the first recordings I ever heard of her. A classic album in my view.

I, as a good singer and musician

Well, we have only your opinion for that - any recordings we can see or hear - and perhaps compare with Ms. Collins?


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 01:41 PM

Oh dear, Jim Carroll is paranoid. I don't know who you are, but you are obviously self-obsessed. Twat.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Vic Smith
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 01:42 PM

Matt Milton
What a bizarre and petty and hateful comment to pointlessly resurrect an ancient thread with. "Shames the whole folk scene"?!! Fuck off, you odious, cowardly little shit.

Couldn't a moderator just close this thread please?

It's particularly pointless (and potentially hurtful) given the fact that - whether you liked her voice or not – Shirley Collins has been physically unable to sing for many years now.
I believe the condition might be called dysphonia, though what it's called isn't important.


Thank you, Matt and well said. There are some cruel, opinionated, unwarrented comments on this thread and I just hope that Shirley does not see it or have it brought to her attention; particularly this week when she is dealing with the death of her 101 year old mother.
Please, for the sake of decency, could this thread be closed and deleted quickly?


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 01:52 PM

Can't tolerate opinions then? What is the point/integrity of this site? This isn't about sentiment. It is supposed to be about art/music.You can't blame a contributor with an opinion for not knowing what is or isn't going on with her life. Am I supposed to feel guilty about her mum? I lost somebody recently too. Stop bullying me.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Vic Smith
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 01:57 PM

Bullying? Nonsense! You haven't even got the courage to reveal your identity. What possible warped pleasure can you gain from trolling like this?


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Nick
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 02:17 PM

>>of course she can sing, this is dafter than tony haynes
saying i wasnt good enough to be a professional singer, and jim carroll criticising me because i did not sing in his approved style, why dont these wankers just fuck off.

It just goes to show that if you are driven enough you can always hijack any thread and end up on the same subject - ie talking about oneself and the wrongs and rights etc etc

Personally I think more bananas should be served at folk clubs and will try and get this into every thread I contribute to regardless of the subject because people need to know.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 03:13 PM

The author of Shirley's Wikipedia entry speaks of her "plain, austere singing style", adding that her "voice has a breathy, unearthly quality, which alienates some people". She is quoted as saying, "I like music to be fairly straightforward, simply embellished – the performance without histrionics allowing you to think about the song rather than telling you what to think."

I think this a fair summary of her work and approach. She is not a flamboyant performer, but has always maintained a consistent quality. I always gave her records favourable, but not excessively enthusiastic, reviews.

I have known her, not closely but with that sort of distant friendship which subsists between people with respect for one another's work, for many years; though have rather lost touch recently (I think we last met at the Bob Copper Memorial Concert at CSH in about 2005), and grieve to hear of her troubles.

Whatever one's view of her as a singer -- it is clear that tastes differ greatly with regard to her -- I do not think it can be denied that she has for long years been a tireless worker for English folksong and for the folk scene, from her early accompanying of Alan Lomax on his American and British field trips to her own impressive recording and performing history. She well deserved the award of the EFDSS Gold Badge, and her appointment by HM The Queen to Membership of the Order of the British Empire for her services to folksong.

It ill becomes an anonymous detractor to animadvert against her qualities and achievements, and then, without revealing who he is or what qualifications he claims, to urge his democratic right to his opinions when taken to task for such perverse conduct and vile manners.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 03:14 PM

I'm sorry, but I'm not going to delete this thread.

I personally don't like it that people can post here without using a consistent name, but that's the policy here.

Shirley Collins is a public figure and a public performer. As such, her performances are open to criticism, even at the time of her mother's death. And it would seem to me that at this time, Shirley Collins would have better things to do, than read a Mudcat thread.

I'll watch the thread and I may close it temporarily to let things settle down, but I don't see any reason to do it now.

And personally, I don't like her voice, either. I can listen to her only in small doses. A lot of good folk musicians have horrible voices - but their singing often tells the story well, nonetheless.

I think MtheGM has given us a wise and balanced response, as he often does. I would add that the age-old rule here at Mudcat says: Don't respond to trolls. It's sound advice.

-Joe Offer, Music Editor-


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 03:25 PM

I'm mostly into Irish, but Shirley Collins occupies pride of place in my CD collection. She sings with a lovely, unforced, natural voice and the recordings she made with Dolly accompanying on the pipe organ, and Anthems In Eden, are coming to my desert island. Anthems, No Roses and a collection called Fountain Of Snow are wonderful.

Just thought I'd mention it! :-)


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Elmore
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 03:38 PM

Of course everyone has a right to his opinion, but why dredge up an ancient thread to make unpleasant remarks about a highly respected public figure and public performer? Even the aficionados at La Scala are more polite, and this sure as Hell ain't La Scala. Pisses me off, but I presume that was the point.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 04:22 PM

Why dredge up an ancient thread? Because he wanted to, I suppose.

Why did people get all in a tizzy about an anonymously unpleasant person? Because they wanted to, I suppose.

If nobody had responded to this troll, would this thread be a problem?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Elmore
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 04:23 PM

Anybody with a good voice can sing, but it takes real talent to wow the audience with a mediocre voice. Leonard Cohen does it every night he works, to a packed, adoring house.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Elmore
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 04:33 PM

"one of England's greatest cultural treasures." That's what traditional folk icon, Billy Bragg calls Shirley Collins. It must be so.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Elmore
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 05:05 PM

On Nov. 24 2010, Dust Magazine called Shirley Collins " The finest singer of the mid-20th century folk revival."


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Elmore
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 05:20 PM

On Oct 21,2010 in The Guardian, Robin Denselow called Shirley Collins "One of the finest and most inventive traditional English singers of the folk revival."


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 05:37 PM

I am sure that Joe is right - but the guest troll claims to be a good singer and musician. Where can we see/hear evidence of this? Because without evidence I don't believe him/her.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Van
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 06:17 PM

It is odd that someone reopens a 9 year old thread to cause offence but even odder that others rise to the bait.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,IanG
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 06:35 PM

Yes.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 04:45 AM

"Oh dear, Jim Carroll is paranoid. I don't know who you are,"
Guest - guest
I don't know who you are either - I use my name in my postings, you don't.
I am certainly not "paranoid"
I took what I believe to be the appropriate steps to prevent this discussion from following the fate of numerous threads on this forum of disappearing into the ether due to a rather unpleasant vendetta - sorry to have interrupted your train of thought - carry on.
Best wishes
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Vic Smith
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 06:04 AM

There is an interesting anomoly in the post by Michael Grosvenor Myer.

In describing our troll, correctly I would say, he states:-

It ill becomes an anonymous detractor to animadvert against her qualities and achievements, and then, without revealing who he is or what qualifications he claims, to urge his democratic right to his opinions...

However, he has already stated in his post:-
The author of Shirley's Wikipedia entry speaks of her "plain, austere singing style", adding that her "voice has a breathy, unearthly quality, which alienates some people".

... but we don't know who wrote this. Wikipedia entries are largely uncredited and the huge site is notoriously unreliable and is avoided (or condemned) by large sections of the academic community. Could it be that whoever wrote this opinion of Shirley could be regarded as an 'anonymous detractor'?

Mistakes and misjudgements on Wikipedia? A recent newspaper article began:-
Up to six in ten articles on Wikipedia contain inaccuracies, according to new research.

.. and that article must be the absolute truth because it was published in..... The Daily Mail.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 07:08 AM

I wouldn't call the wiki statements 'detractions', actually, so much as attempted summaries of various opinions.

Still, take your point, Vic.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Will Fly
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 07:26 AM

Wikipedia is notoriously untrustworthy. When I was giving seminars to university students on the most accurate and productive ways of using the internet for research, I recommended to them that they didn't touch Wikipedia with a bargepole.

I used to ask them what proportion of the files on the internet was freely readable and available by using a web browser like Firefox. Their answer was inevitably something huge, like 90%+. The true answer is more like 10%, believe it or not, with the remaining 90% being absolutely private or available only by payment. My university paid in the region of £300,000 per annum for online access to thousands of academic journals, the contents of which were available only through subscription. That may have changed slightly with time.

End of my thread drift.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 07:58 AM

""voice has a breathy, unearthly quality, which alienates some people".
Shirley Collins was instrumental in popularising the 'head tone' singing in the revival - it was, and still is a main feature of folk singing among some women singers.
Personally, I find the somewhat untraditional technique somewhat limiting in respect to the range of material open to the singer, but it can be a valid style of singing if used sparingly and skilfully.
The main problem with it is the technical difficulties it brings with it - breath and tone control (the dreaded 'gear-change').
On Folk Britannia Sirley made clear her resentment to her appearance on the scene as having been described by Bert Lloyd as "bucolic", so criticism of her performance is by no means limited to Wiki or anonymous guests.
Her contribution to folk song, as a singer and because of her involvement with collecting, makes her a major figure on the English folk scene - she continues to be just that, but this in no way invalidates comments on her singing style.
On the contrary, the influence that her style has had on other singers makes critical discussion highly desirable, if not essential - but please, please not using terms like "She has never been able to sing, and shames the whole folk scene"
The folk scene is fairly unique in attempting to build a cast-iron defence against all forms of criticism, dismissing them as begrudgery and often describing them as "folk policing".
Positive, thoughtful and well-meaning criticism can only bring about the much needed changes on the scene, certainly far more than sycophantic and uncritical praise.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 08:06 AM

Of course she can sing.
As far as I am concerned different styles of singing are what make traditional and contemporary folk singing interesting, whether people like a particular persons style of singing is always a matter of taste.
when people post on this forum and start saying things about other singers[such as can they sing?. or she shames the whole folk scene, or any other slagging off of any singer, WHOEVER that is] it is in extremely bad taste, and shows the petty minded nasty nature of those who do it,vindictive, bad mannered, unpleasant people.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 08:19 AM

Drift re Wikipedia, as it has occurred already:

All depends how well an entry has been 'policed'. I can assert, for instance, that the entry on my late wife Valerie, who was a writer &c, is sound. I didn't put it up in the first place, and have no idea who did; but I have edited it and so can guarantee its 100% accuracy. It is my impression that the entry on Shirley [to mitigate the drift] is reasonably accurate as to fact, and moderate as to opinion.

I agree entirely with Dick's last post. Of course there are infinite ways of singing, most of them valid. Guest-troll's sillinesses are never going to take anybody in.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Vic Smith
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 08:48 AM

Jim Carroll:-
"Shirley Collins was instrumental in popularising the 'head tone' singing in the revival"


"Interesting!" I thought, "I wonder if there is a satisfactory definition; I'll do an internet search for 'head tone' singing."

I did - and there was one.... on Wikipedia!

I'd be interested to know if Jim can
a) give a satisfactory description of that term
and
b) provide any evidence that Shirley set out to sing using whatever a 'head tone' is rather than singing the way that her aunt Grace, her uncle Fred or her mother or others in her family did.
c) provide any evidence that she was 'instrumental in popularising' such a style.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 09:01 AM

Sorry I haven't read the whole thread but the last 20 postings or so. I've listened to Shirley's singing for most of my life, and whilst her voice/style is completely opposite to the way I sing I have always enjoyed her singing. Many of our traditional songs suit this style well. Whilst everyone is entitled to an opinion, I'm not sure criticising someone else's style/voice is helpful or can lead anywhere meaningful. Rather negative I would opine.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Vic Smith
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 09:06 AM

Only about nine years late to issue a correction - but I do remember mentioning this post....

From: GUEST,Shirley Collins - PM
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 04:06 AM

Bugger off the lot of you!

.... to Shirley at the time and she assured me that she had never and would never post on this forum.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 09:07 AM

Andreas Scholl, the countertenor, made a record of folk songs and I thought it was bloody awful (do note "I thought...") Can he sing? Of course he can sing. Kathleen Ferrier sang folk songs to Britten's piano arrangements. It sounded lovely but it doesn't do it for me at all as "folk music" (I keep it in my stash of classical music). Could she sing? You bet!

How you respond to a performance of a song (apart from said response being incredibly subjective) is very complicated and it unconsciously takes into account all manner of stuff such as genre, the words, gender of the singer, nationality of the song as well as the singer, complexity of the arrangement, your own previous listening experiences and preferences, your mood at the time, the company you're in and probably about 20 other factors. To say that such-and-such is a crap singer, or whatever, marks one out as a total prat, not worth conversing with. I think Bob Dylan's a crap singer. But dig deeper and you'll find that I also don't care for most of his songs, obscurantist lyrics don't do it for me at all, I dislike his harmonica playing, he's sold his soul to the commercial devil, he ripped off Nic Jones (IMO), he's a bit rude, etc. etc. So, very subjective stuff, this. There is no one way of singing well. One man's fish is another man's poisson. In many ways, hardly worth talking about!

(So I'll probably shut up...)


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Elmore
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 10:24 AM

Earlier on I posted some highly complementary reviews of Shirley's singing, not so much to defend her, since she needs no defense, but as a contrast to the unpleasant remarks made by the troll who resurrected this thread. Once again, his snide attempts have shown that trolls serve a purpose. They elicit thoughtful, knowledgeable responses from people who understand the music. Some of us instinctively respond in kind to the trolls. Others are more sensible, more sensitive.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 10:52 AM

Hi Vic
"give a satisfactory description of that term"
Not sure I can - I hadn't realised there was an established definition - will look it up later.
I've always considered the description Mike gave adequate enough for general use "breathy, unearthly quality" - though it has never particularly "alienated" me.
We did use a more detailed analysis of the technique in the Critics Group and several of the singers already used or wanted to use it in their singing, but that was more based on how the tone was produced rather than how you defined it.
The two problems I mentioned:
Gear change - the inability to maintain a single tone as the singer moves up and down her range culminating in a jump from a deep substantial tone to a light airy one.
Breath control.
The 'head tone' requires at least twice as much air to produce, often limiting a singer to a restricted time before she needs to take a breath, irrespective of whether a breathing gap fits into the text of the song or not.
Can I make it clear that I in no way intended my comments to be a criticism of Shirley Collins singing - it is a long time since I heard her speak and I honestly can't remember if her speaking voice is as unsubstantial as I remember her singing voice to be - a long time since I heard her sing.
Personally I find the tonal range of her singing voice far too limited to sustain my attention over a number of songs, but this is entirely down to my own tastes - nothing more.
What does concern me are the hordes of women singers who have deliberately adopted the head voice technique as a permanent way of delivering a song, despite the fact that the tone is a million miles from their natural speaking voices.
We have an example here where an excellent singer with a wonderfully rich speaking voice is on the verge of abandoning singing altogether because (thanks mainly to the fags) she can no longer handle a head tone and ends up gasping for breath at the end of lines.
As I said - not a criticism, just something to be aware of and dealt with appropriately.
My (separate) point remains - no singer is or ever should be above criticism, no matter how experienced.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 11:27 AM

But constructive criticism is very different from slagging a person off, for example [hypothetically] mentioning words that may not be apparently clear to a listener, is a minor criticism of diction, but is not slagging off.
BREATH CONTROL, is an important technique, and can be taught by classical singing teachers, by yoga teachers, and can be self taught using some of the exercises used by the critics group, breath control is a technique, it has in my opinion nothing necessarily to do with singing style., other than it will make the performer more confident.
Here are two exercises for improving breath control used by yoga teachers, take a deep breath from the diaphragm, release air slowly, take another deep breath from the diaphragm, then expel air quickly , this is known as the cleansing breath., this very simple exrcise helps breath control. THIS MAY BE OF INTEREST.BREATHING EXERCISES

      A 20% reduction in oxygen blood levels may be caused by the aging process and normal breathing habits. Poor breathing robs energy and negatively affects mental alertness. Unless breathing is exercised, aging affects the respiratory system as follows:

      Stiffness: The rib cage and surrounding muscles get stiff causing inhalation to become more difficult. Less elasticity and weak muscles leave stale air in the tissues of the lungs and prevents fresh oxygen from reaching the blood stream.

      Rapid, Shallow Breathing: This type of breathing, often caused by poor posture and weak or stiff muscles, leads to poor oxygen supply, respiratory disease, sluggishness, or heart disease.

BELLY BREATH EXERCISES

         The following exercises are simple ways to deepen breathing and to cleanse the lungs. These exercises will also increase energy and decrease tension.

          Lie flat on your back to get a proper sense of deep breathing. (Have some small pillows available to reduce strain by tucking them under the neck and knees. The natural course of breathing in that position will create a slight rise in the stomach upon inhaling and a slight fall upon exhaling.)

          Place your hands palm down on your stomach at the base of the rib cage. (The lungs go that far down. What fills them deeper is the pushing down of the diaphragm. The diaphragm creates a suction which draws air into the lungs. the air is then expelled when the diaphragm pushes up. In this process, the life-giving oxygen fills the lungs and gets into the blood stream for distribution to the cells. Carbon dioxide is expelled from the blood into the about-to-be exhaled breath, thus cleansing the body and blood of waste products.)   Lay the palms of your hands on your stomach just below the rib cage, middle fingers barely touching each other, and take a slow deep breath. (As the diaphragm pushes down, the stomach will slightly expand causing the fingertips to separate somewhat.

          This movement indicates full use of the lungs, resulting in a truly deep breath rather than the "puffed chest" breath experienced by many as the greatest lung capacity. Chest breathing fills the middle and upper parts of the lungs. Belly breathing is the most efficient method. Infants and small children use only this method until the chest matures. The yoga breath or roll breathing combines belly and chest breathing.

    FOR BEST RESULTS, PRACTICE THIS EXERCISE FOR 5 MINUTES.

COMPLETE BREATH EXERCISES

       1. Sit up straight. Exhale.

       2. Inhale and, at the same time, relax the belly muscles. Feel as though the belly is filling with air.

       3. After filling the belly, keep inhaling. Fill up the middle of your chest. Feel your chest and rib cage expand.

       4. Hold the breath in for a moment, then begin to exhale as slowly as possible.

       5. As the air is slowly let out, relax your chest and rib cage. Begin to pull your belly in to force out the remaining breath.

       6. Close your eyes, and concentrate on your breathing.

       7. Relax your face and mind.

       8. Let everything go.

       9. Practice about 5 minutes.

HUMMING BREATH EXERCISES

         Follow the instructions for inhaling the COMPLETE BREATH (Steps 1-3 above). Now, as you begin to slowly exhale, make a HUM sound. Keep making that humming sound as long as possible. Pull your stomach muscles in, squeezing out a few more seconds of humming. Then relax. Practice for 2 to 3 minutes.

CHINESE BREATH EXERCISES

         A very fine, short (though not shallow) breath exercise comes from the Chinese Tai Chi Chuan. Three short inhales are done through the nose without exhaling. On the first inhale, the arms are lifted from the sides straight out in front at shoulder height. On the second, the arms are opened out straight to the sides while still at shoulder height. And on the third, the arms
    are lifted straight over the head. Then, on the exhale through the mouth, the arms are moved in an arc back down to the sides. Usually, ten or twelve breaths are sufficient and will not cause light headedness. If light headedness should occur, simply stop the exercise. This exercise also has the effect of really opening up people physically. In subtle ways, this exercise uses the body in leading the mind and spirit to greater openness with each other and the environment.

         CAUTION !! Especially for older people: Never do panting or shallow breathing except while seated. Hyperventilation may occur. As long as one is seated, hyperventilation will not be a problem because, even if a brief blackout should occur, the body's automatic breathing apparatus will immediately take over.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 11:40 AM

"I'm not sure criticising someone else's style/voice is helpful or can lead anywhere meaningful. Rather negative I would opine"

Funnily enough I had a bit of a youtube seach on this singer as I haven't heard much of her. She can obviously sing but also she is not averse to voicing her opinions on other singers herself. Didn't like Lonnie Donegan, thought Dylan was a lesser Rambing Jack, and didn't think much of Paul Simon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdzeeeORQLc


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Vic Smith
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 11:46 AM

So to summarise:-
Jim wrote:-
"Shirley Collins was instrumental in popularising the 'head tone' singing in the revival"


and I asked for
I'd be interested to know if Jim can
a) give a satisfactory description of that term
b) provide any evidence that Shirley set out to sing using whatever a 'head tone' is rather than singing the way that her aunt Grace, her uncle Fred or her mother or others in her family did.
c) provide any evidence that she was 'instrumental in popularising' such a style.


and Jim's responses were:-
a) 'Not sure I can' (though you were happy to use the term)
b) - not dealt with
c) - not dealt with

Now, Jim, I hope that you realise that I am not not trying to start an argument on this, I am merely trying to seek elucidation on some things that were given by you as a bald factual statements and not an opinion or a summary of studies etc. I am interested to know.

Some other points from your last post in response to my questions:-

You wrote:-
We have an example here where an excellent singer with a wonderfully rich speaking voice is on the verge of abandoning singing altogether because (thanks mainly to the fags) she can no longer handle a head tone and ends up gasping for breath at the end of lines.
So:-
* You say early in your post that you cannot give a satisfactory description of 'head tone' - yet you persist in using the term.
* You insinuate that heavy smoking cause her to lose this undefined 'head tone' gasping at the end of lines whereas the reason that she stopped singing was a traumatic incident that I don't think I should mention on a public forum - though I'm sure that Shirley would tell you if you were to ask her.
* I presume that you can substantiate your statement that Shirley is and was a heavy smoker because throughout my very long friendship with her this has not been so.

The problem for me, Jim, is that you express opinions such as Personally I find the tonal range of her singing voice far too limited to sustain my attention over a number of songs, but this is entirely down to my own tastes which nobody could possibly object to but you mix them up with statements which I feel I have to challenge. Another example - you talk about her gasping for breath at the end of lines. Can I again call for evidence or examples?


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 12:19 PM

"yet you persist in using the term."
As I said - the description of the term Mike gave is perfectly adequate a description of how I understand and recognise the tone I am referring to.
I have just followed your helpful point and looked the term up on the net and I find that there is no contradiction between what appears to be the accepted definition and how I have always understood it.
Nor do I find my own feelings about Shirley Collins' singing in any way in conflict with the way I have always used the term.
I have 'defined' the term it in terms of the inbuilt problems it produces (as I have described) not as a criticism but as a way of drawing attention to those problems in order to be aware of them and so, overcoming them.
"Can I again call for evidence or examples" - in Shirley's singing - no, of course you can't - I've come across plenty of examples to be had of women finding it necessary to take breaths because of the tone they are using.
A long-term singer in one of our workshops conquered a medical breathing problem by consciously ceasing to use head voice.
Can't recall the singer's name, but I have a recording somewhere of a lecture given by a friend which included a popular Irish singer of a decade or so ago singing Barbara Allen in head voice and having to take a breath after every fourth word.
What are you saying Vic - that our conclusions that head voice doesn't create breathing problems, that head voice has not been adopted by singers as a style - what.
"You insinuate that heavy smoking cause her to lose this undefined 'head tone' gasping at the end of lines whereas the reason that she stopped singing was a traumatic incident that I don't think I should mention on a public forum - though I'm sure that Shirley would tell you if you were to ask her."
Where on earth did this come from Vic - I "insinuated" nothing of the sort - I gave an example of a local singer (she runs our local session) who has all but given up singing because she can no longer sing in the way she has chosen to
I made it perfectly clear that I was not referring to Shirley Collins' singing which I am not familiar with any more.
I stopped listening to her singing because I find it too bland and unvaried for my taste - nothing to do with her use of head voice.
Please stop attributing things I neither said nor believe to me.
As for by not having an accurate definition - perhaps we might discuss the definition of folk song sometime and see how many takers we get.
Perhaps you might find it beneficial to trawl your way though all the other hits you get if you Google up head voice - several of them appear to be attempting to deal with the problems I have described.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 12:37 PM

To my ear, Shirley Collins' speaking voice and singing voice are in essence the same voice, which she uses to sing in her own natural accent in a very unaffected way. I can, and frequently do, listen to her songs for an hour or more. The songs, replete with stories and folklore, are the point of her art. As for a singer's voice alienating someone, well that person must seriously want to be alienated otherwise why would they carry on listening!


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Vic Smith
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 12:50 PM

I need to apologise unreservedly to Jim about my misreading of his post about smoking and Shirley, though he must admit that in the phrase

We have an example here.... etc

the "here" could mean either 'in this thread' or 'where I live'

I think that I need to lie down and do some Chinese Breathing Exercises.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 01:18 PM

No apologies necessary Vic - I do it all the time
Probably my bad phrasing wot dunnit - where's me phrase exercise book?
"As for a singer's voice alienating someone, well that person must seriously want to be alienated otherwise why would they carry on listening!"
Amen to that
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 01:47 PM

Jim, has said does not like Shirley Collins, he also has said he does not care much for martin carthy, tony rose or nic jones or peter bellamy., five very different singers.
I mention this Jim, not as a vendetta, but a statement of fact, because I think it puts a perspective on your viewpoint.could you explain why you do not care for these vastly differing singers
I am also interested in your statement about shirley collins and head voice, could you provide some back up info.
to me shirley collins singing is unaffected .


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 02:51 PM

Jim: I have not offered any definition or description of anything that I am aware of. I simply quoted some phrases from Shirley's wikipedia entry, one of which you appeared to think summarised the phenomenon in question, which was no part of my intention in quoting it.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 02:55 PM

"Jim, has said does not like Shirley Collins"
You're doing it again Dick - I still have your PM agreeing with my opinion of Shirley Collins if you would like me to dig it out for you.
I am entitled to have an opinion on any singer I wish and am happy to state any of my feelings at the appropriate time and place - not here.
"could you provide some back up info."
No - certainly not - I have decided that the only thing worth sharing with you is distance.
Please feel free to piss off and take your unpleasant vendetta and carefully place it where it won't get sunburnt.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Vic Smith
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 03:18 PM

"why dont these wankers just fuck off."
"Please feel free to piss off and take your unpleasant vendetta and carefully place it where it won't get sunburnt."


Right, that's it! I'm out of here, I came here for discussion.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Stuart Reed
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 05:55 PM

I'm so proud of Shirley Collins' contribution to my ethnic music.

Her dignified and modest appraisal of her contribution to the folk revival, both in the England and America, are exemplary.

Like Martin Carthy and his family she has allowed the songs which she has lovingly passed on to speak for themselves.

Further insights into her lifetime involvement in traditional music - including a reference to what Vic Smith referred to as a "traumatic event" - may be gathered from a published interview here


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Morris-ey
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 06:32 PM

I see the troll has had his/her effect. Come back in 4 years.....


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 07:02 PM

I've always liked how Shirley Collins sang. I like the way she presented the song, not the person singing it.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Nov 13 - 03:08 AM

I first heard Shirley Collins singing on a compilation lp,put together by Peter Kennedy she was singing a song Dabbling in the Dew, I enjoyed it, and in my opinion it is songs like that and Claudy Banks that are her forte.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Nov 13 - 03:33 AM

" I simply quoted some phrases from Shirley's wikipedia entry"
I know that Mike, I thought I and referred to your quote as such, and not your opinion.
For me, the description echoed how I felt about Shirley's singing and how the fact that many women singers have taken up her style of delivery has impacted on the revival as a whole - no intentions of misquoting you.
"Right, that's it! I'm out of here, I came here for discussion. "
Vic - I made my comment in order to nip Dick's attempt to make this discussion something other than that.
As far as I'm concerned, it is a discussion on Shirley Collins, not another head-to-head between me and Dick.
That's finished, here and elsewhere on my part
I will be mortified if I have had any part in driving you away.
Apologies
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Folknacious
Date: 24 Nov 13 - 10:45 AM

This thread represents everything that is obnoxious about Mudcat, and why it is so widely loathed and derided as a haven for nutters and trolls. Just imagine somebody Googling for "folk" or "Shirley Collins" and finding this.

Ken


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Nov 13 - 10:54 AM

This thread represents everything that is obnoxious about Mudcat
Collins" and finding this.
Why - in the main it is a balance of praise and honest criticism
Mudcat is not a publicity forum for folk stars
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Nov 13 - 11:15 AM

Iam inclined to agree with F


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Nov 13 - 11:34 AM

I am inclined to agree with folknacious, words such as brings "shame on the folk world", are just horrible, and bring mudcat into disrepute, even the original wording of the thread is in my opinion unpleasant.
mudcat should be a place where people discuss folk music, not a place where anonymous posters can say outrageously unpleasant insults to other performers, there has been some sensible criticism from the likes of MGM.
I have to say this thread and its original title, contain two of the nastiest personal attacks on Shirley Collins., that I have ever seen. I think this thread should be closed.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Raymond Greenoaken
Date: 24 Nov 13 - 12:12 PM

I think there's a post earlier in this ancient thread in which someone purporting to be Shirley writes in answer to the thread title: (I quote from memory) "Of course I can, you cheeky monkeys." Whether it was Shirley in truth or a mischievous Mudcatter, I've always thought it was the best posting I'd ever read on Mudcat.

But to pick up on another, more recent comment — "I've always liked how Shirley Collins sang. I like the way she presented the song, not the person singing it." I understand the point being made here, and I've read many variations on it on this and other discussion forums: that the singer should ideally be a neutral medium through which the song travels unimpeded and unadulterated. Well, I'm not at all sure I would agree with this. It's true I could happily listen to Shirley C sing all night, and the same is true for other undemonstrative singers like Harry Cox or Walter Pardon. But if you forced me to name my favourite singers, they are almost all singers with very idiosyncratic approaches and peculiar-sounding voices, and who are not afraid to take sometimes extreme liberties with their material. You want names? Peter Bellamy, Robin Williamson, Peter Stampfel, Mike Heron, Martin Carthy for starters. A beautiful song can be an end in itself, but when it's sung by someone who is prepared to explore the possibilities of the human voice... That's a combination I can't resist. Am I a bad person?


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Nov 13 - 12:19 PM

No RAYMOND, of course you are not, your comments are not unpleasant, they are a statement of personal preference put in a polite manner, that is very different from saying brings" shame on the folk scene"or "can she sing"and the rest of that first post.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Joe Moran
Date: 24 Nov 13 - 01:32 PM

I'm to blame! I started the thread!
I'd like to make two comments here.
If Shirley had got up at my local folk club - back in the day - and I hadn't known who she was, I wouldn't have been impressed!
I wouldn't have gone home I told my wife that I'd just heard a wonderful, inspiring - whatever - rendition of a folk
song.
Secondly, I wouldn't dream of playing a track by Shirley, to a non-folky friend - as an example of great - even good - folk singing.
On one level it could be called a "personal thing" but if the folk scene had been full of Shirley Collin's type singers when I first got in to folk music in the 60s, then I wouldn't be here now writing this!


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Nov 13 - 01:41 PM

..."in the main it [ie this thread] is a balance of praise and honest criticism", claims Jim above. Well, "up to a point", I should say, rather than "in the main". Does a comment like "She brings shame on the folk world" fit into such a summation, would you say, Jim? What manner of 'shame', for crying out loud? Would you describe that as 'honest criticism'?

~M~


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: johncharles
Date: 24 Nov 13 - 02:34 PM

I really like her version of Brigg Fair. Well done that lady
john


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 Nov 13 - 02:43 PM

I had not heard of Shirley Collins until this thread came up—and I have not read much of the thread, just enough to get the general thrust of peoples' opinions.

Can she sing? Obvious she can, because she does. And in my humble opinion, she has a pretty good voice for singing folk songs. I've heard one helluva lot of far less listenable voices on field recordings, AND I have noted in my long and checked career in the folk music world that there are many "revival" singers out there—city-bred singers of folk songs—who kill themselves trying to sound like singers on field recordings.

Shirley Collins apparently doesn't have to try. That's her natural voice.

Granted, she's no Joan Baez, but then Joan sounds much more like a classical singer than a "folk" singer and one could raise the question of whether or not she has a good voice for singing folk songs.

It seems to me (at least I have always operated on this premise) that the main aim should be in communicating the song. The emotions expressed, the story, if a ballad or the implied story with other songs. Clear diction, singing on pitch, and a pleasant sounding voice helps, but if the audience is more hung up on the beauty of the singer's voice and the finesse of their vocal technique than they are on the song itself, then—

I once heard George London, one of the world's greatest bass-baritones (the only American invited to Beyreuth to sing "Wotan" in the Wagner Ring Festival and to Russia to sing "Boris Godunov") sing "Lord Randal"—giving it the full operatic treatment. He made Lord Randal sound like "the Death of Boris" scene. It was Gawd-bloody-Awful!

But beautifully sung. . . .

In the meantime, Dave Van Ronk's voice sounded like a rusty hinge. But what a great singer!!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Nov 13 - 02:47 PM

Many professional singers on the folk scene and elsewhere deliberately develop a singing style that is different to their normal spoken voice. Mostly these are people trying to establish their uniqueness in a competitive market. In some music genres this practice is essential and the norm.

As far as Shirley is concerned I've always found her spoken voice pretty much the same as her singing voice. I'm not sure what she would make of all this blather, but what I am sure of is, she has been appreciated by a great number of people over a very long period of time, and therefore this discussion is somewhat pointless. One or two people don't like her singing. So????


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,BrendanB
Date: 24 Nov 13 - 03:52 PM

I entirely agree with Vic Smith's reaction, the posts to which he was responding were puerile and offensive.
Anthems in Eden, (Shirley and Dolly Collins) is, in my opinion, one of the definitive albums of English folk music. Of course there are people who will not like it. Their response is entirely subjective - just as mine is. Millions of people revere Morrisey and David Bowie, I don't get it but I am not going to say they are wrong, they just like different stuff. I have even met people who actively dislike baroque music - weird thinking to me but there you go.
You cannot tell other people what is good music and what is bad - you can only talk about what you like and what you don't like. I knew that I hated hiphop until I saw the Rizzle Kicks - they're fab! (Mind you, I also loved Moby and Portishead so it was probably only a matter of time.). All this from someone who has a record collection which is at least 70% folk oriented. Like what you like and don't apologise for it. Dislike what you don't like but accept that yours is not the right opinion, it's just your opinion.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Nov 13 - 04:24 PM

"Dislike what you don't like but accept that yours is not the right opinion, it's just your opinion."
well said, and that goes for all opinions about what is the correct way to sing folk songs including people who insist that to be a good singer it is necessary to vary tone, or sing in a head voice or sing with a smile on ones face or do all during a song.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Nov 13 - 04:53 PM

Bloody hell, Dick! You and me agreeing! What is the world coming to?


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Nov 13 - 04:14 AM

"Does a comment like "She brings shame on the folk world" fit into such a summation, would you say, Jim?"
No it doesn't Mike (a misuse of the term "in the main" on my part) - I think I made the point earlier about this particular posting, which I find as offensive as anybody else rightly does.
I see nothing wrong with criticising any singer, no matter how experienced, though I would prefer any criticism to be qualified by an explanation so it may be discussed - that particular one isn't criticism, it's downright offensive condemnation of a singer who has made an enormous contribution to folk song.
Whatever my personal opinions on Shirley Collins' singing, my main reason for discussion is the effect that her style has had on the revival as a whole (I'm not blaming her for that, just pointing out what I believe has happened).
"I entirely agree with Vic Smith's reaction, the posts to which he was responding were puerile and offensive."
Couldn't agree more Steve - can't offer an explanation without re-opening a long and rather long running unpleasantness, so I can only apologise to all and say it won't happen again.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Nov 13 - 04:59 AM

I attribute the idea that performers must sing in certain styles[including an insistence on using both head and chest voice] to various workshops that certain uk revival performers[not Shirley Collins] have given, in my opinion these workshops were not based on uk traditional singing styles as sometimes have been claimed.
using a harder tone was an idea put forward by certain uk revival singers[not shirley collins].
I have spent many years listening to Traditional singers such as harry cox and fred jordan, bob lewis, they sang naturally, without the affectation of singing with a smile on their face or deliberately developing a hard tone.
how people choose to sing stylistically is up to them, but for anyone to claim it is in anyway connected with uk traditional singing styles is in my opinion not proven.
I think that there are a number of other revival singers who have been much more influential[mostly through song workshops] on revival style than shirley collins,one of those singers had a connection with the Critics group, and believed in the use of varying tone or using a harder tone. I repeat uk Traditional Singers in my experience did not do this.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsxG06FMA-Y
or willie scott http://www.last.fm/music/Willie+Scott/The+Shepherd%27s+Song/The+Shepherd%27s+Song


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 25 Nov 13 - 10:20 AM

Off course Shirley Collins can sing. She sings like Shirley Collins!   She sings in a totally honest, straightforward style, without histrionics or over elaboration, in her own Sussex accent, which adds to the charm of her singing in my opinion, No one can fault her for integrity,she has upheld her belief and love for traditional song for many years and continues to do so. Long may she reign. However, as she is a noted public figure, heard by many, there are bound to be some who do not like her singing. It's inevitable. Lots of people don't like my singing, but I'm grateful for those that do, and accept that the others have a right to their opinion. I love to sing, and will continue to do so regardless of having some critics. I'm sure that Shirley wishes she could sing right now. I too have suffered from Vocal Dysphonia, it was the darkest period in my life when I feared I would never sing again. It took me three years plus before I could use my voice with confidence once more.
Like Shirley's singing if you wish. Dislike it if you wish. It's just your opoinion after all. But to say that she CAN'T sing. Nonsense!


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Nov 13 - 11:17 AM

Interestingly, Roy, I have always thought that you and Shirley have much in common as singers ~~ a straightforwardness of performance, singing with sincerity and truth and eschewing gimmickry. And you have both, as is known to quite a few, long been admired and enjoyed by me.

Nice to hear from you again.

& A Merry Christmas To All My [former] Readers!

☤☤✸✸☃☃✾✾~Michael~✾✾☃☃✸✸☤☤


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Nov 13 - 12:23 PM

"Whatever my personal opinions on Shirley Collins' singing, my main reason for discussion is the effect that her style has had on the revival as a whole (I'm not blaming her for that, just pointing out what I believe has happened)."
I would be interested to have some evidence of the effect her style has had on the revival as a whole,over the last 40 years I have heard very few Shirley Collins imitators.
I have heard a considerable number of female singers, who have clearly attended and been influenced by Frankie Armstrongs' workshops, in my opinion the UK Folk revival[ as regards female singers] has been influenced more by Frankie Armstrong and Sandra Kerr[ two performers with strong connections to The Critics Group] than by Shirley Collins.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Nov 13 - 12:30 PM

Indeed ~~ and in various ways by June Tabor, Maddie Prior, Norma Waterson -- more recently Eliza Carthy ... et al. But I agree that I can think of few Shirley Collins soundalikes.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 25 Nov 13 - 02:02 PM

I find Shirley's singing to be thoroughly engaging. She sings honestly without artifice or pretence, in a manner that is entirely her own. She communicates like a true story teller. Any technical 'flaws' or imperfections in her singing, merely accent her unique character.

As someone who has tried but failed to get on board with much of the music professionally produced in the name of folk, I find Shirley's music possesses a timeless charm and is always worth returning to.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Nov 13 - 02:04 PM

"But I agree that I can think of few Shirley Collins soundalikes."
I'm talking specifically about the use of head-voice, noted by Bert Lloyd when he made his "bucolic" comment as being fairly rare in folk song, but later producing many imitators of the style.
I'm not denigrating head voice - extremely attractive when used well (and sparingly), but it raises problems which have to be noticed and need to be dealt with.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Nov 13 - 02:30 PM

Hate to appear ignorant, Jim; but could you be kind enough to define 'head voice' in the sense you are using it?


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Nov 13 - 03:23 PM

"I'm not denigrating head voice - extremely attractive when used well (and sparingly), but it raises problems which have to be noticed and need to be dealt with."
what are these problems and on whose authority to they have to be dealt with.
As far as I can hear Shirley is using her natural voice rather similiar to her speaking voice, she is from Sussex and speaks with a slight Sussex accent. In my experience all Traditional singers do this,and most of them know nothing about chest voices or head voices
the terms head voice and chest voice appear to have first surfaced sometime in the uk folk revival in the seventies, and seem to be connected with the Critics group.
So Lloyd said "bucolic being fairly rare in folk song" are we suposed to take this statement without a challenge,   here is harry cox singing with a rural accent.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsxG06FMA-Y Walter Pardon also sang in a norfolk bucolic accent, dictionary definition of bucolic [rustic, pastoral, of the countryside]


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: TheSnail
Date: 25 Nov 13 - 04:11 PM

Good Soldier Schweik

I have spent many years listening to Traditional singers such as harry cox and fred jordan, bob lewis, they sang naturally, ...

I wish you'd stop referring to Bob Lewis in the past tense, Dick. He was singing naturally and without affectation when I last saw him a couple of weeks ago and I am sure he will on Wednesday at the next rehearsal for the concert of Sussex Carols our little choir will be performing at various venues under the banner Shepherds Arise with musical interludes of traditional Sussex tunes from Will Duke and from the Shepherds Arise band with readings from Shirley Collins MBE.

First outing - Lewes Saturday Folk Club, Elephant and Castle, White Hill, Lewes BN7 2DJ Saturday 7th December.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Nov 13 - 05:18 PM

my apologies, Bryan, it is a little while since I heard him sing,that's why i used the past tense, glad to hear he is going strong.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Brian May
Date: 25 Nov 13 - 05:52 PM

Blimey - can we stop now?


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Nov 13 - 05:11 AM

"Hate to appear ignorant, Jim; but could you be kind enough to define 'head voice' in the sense you are using it? "
How do you define a sound in words - beyond me?
Listen to Shirley Collins - she sings in head voice as I understand it.
She handles it well and doesn't show any signs of the problems that come with it.
We're told that this is her natural voice, which makes sense to me.
The many hundreds of women in the revival have adopted head voice when it is not their not natural voice and do have those problems, this is what concern me.
One contributor to a current thread (Criticism in Sessions maybe) has said she sings in head voice and has one of these problems - gear change (change of tone from head to chest when moving up and down her range) - will dig it out later.
I've described a local singer here who has a perfectly good natural voice, but who has developed the habit in singing in head voice and has all but abandoned singing unnecessarily because she can no longer handle long lines, gasps for breath and her singing actually peters out before she reaches the end of the line.
In workshops I've worked in this has been a problem with other women singers.
As far as I am concerned head voice has been adopted by singers to whom it is not their natural voice and they have used it for every song they sing - producing a sameness in performance.
Sorry - must go - will look up the posting I referred to later.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 26 Nov 13 - 06:55 AM

CS wrote:
"I find Shirley's singing to be thoroughly engaging. She sings honestly without artifice or pretence, in a manner that is entirely her own. She communicates like a true story teller."

Couldn't have put it better (and the same goes for RoyH's post). I've listened to plenty of Shirley's singing, and enjoyed it way more than some of her more widely-praised peers. And her voice is surely unique enough to satisfy even Raymond G's passion for idiosyncracy.

However, I'd have thought Anne Briggs was much more influential on revival style.

I've been inclined to stay well clear of a thread that started out negatively and then got seriously unpleasant - in the hope that it might die - but finally decided that a small contribution to help tip the balance might be more useful.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Nov 13 - 07:51 AM

I've described a local singer here who has a perfectly good natural voice, but who has developed the habit in singing in head voice and has all but abandoned singing unnecessarily because she can no longer handle long lines, gasps for breath and her singing actually peters out before she reaches the end of the line."
this could be rectified in my opinion by breathing exercises and stopping smoking, bad breathing can sometimes occur through incorrect posture, Alexander technique is designed to help perfrmers[including singers] perform better,
bad breathing is not necessarily anything to do with head voice, it can occur with singers who use chest voice too.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Nov 13 - 08:32 AM

Well Davey Graham thought she was good

http://youtu.be/jUigUFYIsQw

Shirley Collins, Anne Briggs, Martin Carthy, John Martyn, Bert Jansch &c all had/have distinctive unique voices styles.

No Roses is a classic folk album and, in my 'umble opinion, Shirley's singing is superb. Joan Baez had a clear, clean lovely voice but doubt she could pur over Hal-an-Tow like our Shirley can.

I've heard some opera singers and pop singers who are supposed to have the 'x' factor (whatever that shit means) who sound bloody awful......in my 'umble opinion.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Nov 13 - 08:34 AM

Woops sorry folks, probs with my membership. That last thread rant was me Vin2


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Nov 13 - 08:46 AM

this might be useful for people who are running out of breath whilst singing.
long breathing comes from diaphragm control., posture is important, smoking is going to make long breathing and good breath control more difficult.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJzflvDTWno. in my opinion you can forget all this talk about head voice and chest voice if you want to be confident as a performer, in my opinion it is more im portant to try alexander technique, if you want to improve your breath control, try breathing exercises, give up smoking and take regular exercise.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Nov 13 - 11:07 AM

"However, I'd have thought Anne Briggs was much more influential on revival style."
I would agree with this, unfortunately the thread is about Shirley Collins.
I was hoping the discussion would develop into something a little more adult and a little less personal – ah well!!
She is undoubtedly a good singer - few have argued otherwise; whether you 'like' her singing is a matter of personal taste - not a lot you can do about that one way or another.
I took as my cue a remark that was made earlier - "her voice has a breathy, unearthly quality" - her breathiness is commented on by several other people.
As has been pointed out, her style of singing seems to be natural - to her.
When it is taken up and used in a wholesale manner on every song by singers to whom this way of singing is not natural, I believe it produces the problems I have mentioned - I also believe it to be a valid subject for discussion on this thread.
I also partly agree with Brian regarding Anne Briggs, whose singing raises the same feelings with me and the same problems with other singers, though whose influence is the greatest is, as far as I'm concerned, a moot point.   

As promise Mike – from the Criticism at Singarounds thread.
Apologies to eldergirl for taking her name in vain.

Date: 31 Oct 13 - 05:03 AM
Another problem that seldom occurred in the older singers was the 'head-voice' syndrome (common to women unless you happen to be a castrati!)
The airy tone some women use takes up too much air to sing a full line without having to take a breath - saw a spectacular example last night in our local session when an otherwise fine singer broke down and abandoned her song.
This tone also produces 'gear change' - a forced shift from head to chest tone as the singer moves down her range - a lack of tonal continuity - a sort of quantum leap - can't think of a single example among the older generation of singers - plenty in revival ones.
Sorry - having my own personal little rant now.
Jim Carroll

Subject: RE: Criticism at singarounds
From: GUEST,eldergirl on another computer - PM
Date: 31 Oct 13 - 06:21 AM
guilty as charged, Jim! some days I can manage the leap, but mostly not. tension, and lack of practice, that is, not singing out for most of my life. :(

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: GUEST,Reynard
Date: 26 Nov 13 - 11:08 AM

To me she's a great and unique singer. One comment I would add, is that "folk" can approached from many angles, and that classical or mainstream pop vocal styles are not the only other alternatives.

In my case before discovering English folk I was a fan of mainly indie/alternative/rock music and have always appreciated an expressive and interesting singer over one with a bland but technically perfect voice. To me Shirley Collins singing is beautiful and sums up what I love most about the music.

I know taste is a personal thing, but criticism of her as someone who "can't sing" simply because she doesn't meet certain peoples preconceptions of what a "good" singer should sound like feels like the type competitive judgemental "muso" wankery that seems to exist across many genres and has always seemed to me like the wrong approach to music.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 26 Nov 13 - 12:07 PM

It all depends on how you define singing. Does she have a well-trained voice? Probably not but can she communicate? That is just as important. A well-trained voice allows you to keep it as you grow older. Communication is perhaps even more important.

Alan Lomax certainly thought Shirley was a good singer and promoted her extensively.


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Subject: RE: Shirley Collins - can she sing?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Nov 13 - 01:16 PM

"I know taste is a personal thing, but criticism of her as someone who "can't sing" simply because she doesn't meet certain peoples preconceptions of what a "good" singer should sound like feels like the type competitive judgemental "muso" wankery that seems to exist across many genres and has always seemed to me like the wrong approach to music."
I agree with this post.


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