16 episodes

Musicians talk about their life and work.

The Voices of..‪.‬ BBC

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.8 • 9 Ratings

Musicians talk about their life and work.

    Richard Dawson

    Richard Dawson

    For a man whose musical demeanour comes across as rough-hewn with a potency that's barely contained, Richard Dawson in person is gentle with a soft smile and opinions that are precisely worded though almost tentatively shared. He admits to a high level of everyday anxiety, yet has left a mark on contemporary folk music in England that testifies to an innate confidence in his musical vision. His albums (notably Nothing Important of 2014 and Peasant in 2017), as well as being critically acclaimed, have taken folk music into new territory that's at once ancient and avant-garde.

    Speaking at his home in the north-east of England, Richard reflects on the particular qualities of his voice, the life that music has opened up to him and his ever-present companion, Trouble the cat.

    Presented and produced by Alan Hall
    A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio Four

    • 27 min
    Stephanie Phillips

    Stephanie Phillips

    Growing up in Wolverhampton, Steph Phillips was a quiet girl, shy to the point of wanting to vanish during social occasions and conscious that as a black teenage female she was, anyway, invisible to most of society. These days, she's found her voice in a space where she can be what she describes as her "full self'" - she's the guitarist and lead singer with the black feminist punk band Big Joanie.

    In a lineage of music-making with attitude that can be traced back through Riot Grrrl to the original punk icon, the late Poly Styrene of X-Ray Specs, Steph now commands a stage on which issues of identity, of race and gender, of political activism and artistic expression collide in joyful, noisy creativity.

    Presented and produced by Alan Hall
    A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4

    • 27 min
    Kurt Wagner

    Kurt Wagner

    An intimate portrait of Kurt Wagner, singer and creative force behind American indie band Lambchop.

    Growing up in Nashville, Tennessee, Kurt Wagner's artistic aspirations were inclined towards the visual arts rather than the city's all-pervasive country music scene. But hanging around friends, exchanging school cello for garage guitar, he found that he became - by default - the singer. No-one else wanted the role.

    So began Lambchop, an indie rock band that Kurt mischievously publicised as 'Alt-country' to see which music hacks actually troubled to listen rather than just re-hash the press release.

    Recorded on his porch at home in Nashville, Kurt reflects on his idiosyncratic vocal style, his embracing of technology and sharing life with a political activist in a Republican state in the third year of Donald Trump's presidency.

    Presented and produced by Alan Hall
    A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4

    • 27 min
    Alison Goldfrapp

    Alison Goldfrapp

    An intimate portrait of Alison Goldfrapp, an innovative artist and electronic dance music performer (with Goldfrapp) whose voice is inflected with folk, opera and cabaret styles.

    Recorded overnight on a walk through woods in Hampshire during the summer solstice and at her home in east London, this evocation of one of Britain's most versatile singers touches on Alison's childhood and the impact of being educated by nuns, her adventures across experimental art forms, the joy of a thumping electronic dance track and the enduring allure of nature, both in her music and her life.

    Presented and produced by Alan Hall
    A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio Four

    • 27 min
    Rachel and Becky Unthank

    Rachel and Becky Unthank

    During the last ten years, The Unthanks have redefined what might be expected of English folk music. Their sequence of albums has reimagined traditional material in vivid new arrangements and reached into surprising new sources - for example, the songs of Molly Drake. But at the core of the group are the voices of Rachel and Becky, sisters born seven years apart.

    Rachel and Becky share their sense of belonging to the landscape of the north-east, their inevitable attraction to melancholy and the qualities that allow each other's voice to blend so effortlessly.

    And, in their studio in a Northumbrian farm-yard, they sing their signature melodies and a duet that most typically sounds for the two of them.

    Produced by Alan Hall
    A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

    • 27 min
    Claron McFadden

    Claron McFadden

    Growing up in upstate New York, it wasn't a surprise that Claron McFadden wanted to be a singer - she was immersed in gospel music at church, soul and pop at home. That she aspired to be a classical soprano was, as she describes it, no choice at all. Her voice led her there.

    Having lived in Amsterdam for over thirty years - a place she instantly recognised as home - she now inhabits a space somewhere between America and Europe, just as her voice is at home in music across stylistic boundaries and eras.

    With hard-edged modern music by Brian Ferneyhough, an elegant aria by Rameau, Gershwin's Summertime, a jazz arrangement of Bach and even a visceral performance of Erwin Schulhoff's Sonata Erotica, Claron talks with Alan Hall about the life she's shared with her voice.

    Produced by Alan Hall
    A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

    • 27 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
9 Ratings

9 Ratings

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