A new website has been launched that will provide biographical sketches of the 650 folk singers, musicians and dancers who gave their songs, tunes and dances to Cecil Sharp in the Edwardian Folk Revival. In his notes, Sharp left many statements and clues about the performers and it has been possible to identify most of them.
With the help of a Maltwood grant from the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society, researcher David Sutcliffe completed the Somerset section of the research (342 performers) in July 2019 and has been extending his research to all the other counties which Sharp visited (though not visits to the USA) and hopes to have it completed in the coming months.
There is considerable interest currently in the people who handed on their folk heritage to the early collectors. ‘Who were the Folk?’ is a recurring question. This website now provides the answers. Researchers and performers can use this latest research to recreate the social context of song collection at the time. With the kind permission of the English Folk Dance & Song Society, the new website is also able to show Sharp’s photographs of the singers and to link back to the digitised songs and tunes with ease. The website, a non-commercial venture, will run for three years to test its usefulness and will be maintained by David Sutcliffe in Somerset. It is also flexible - it can be updated and amended as new information arises. It is intended to be another starting point in our understanding of folksong, not an end point, and is a welcome addition to the online resources available at present.