When Shan was a teenager, a customer in her grandfather's South London pub, who knew she enjoyed singing, gave her four books of folk songs. They were soon marked heavily with her notes and arrangements as she started to sing at school and church concerts and even on BBC Radio. Her interest in song continued but family life took precedence until she started singing in public again in the late 90s.
Martin also sang at school and discovered folk music at University. He was drawn to English traditional song and started to write songs using ideas from traditional sources. The discovery of previously unknown manuscripts from Sabine Baring-Gould in 1992 led to his interest in Baring-Gould's work becoming a passion (some say obsession!). Since then he has conducted research into Baring-Gould's life and work, and made new discoveries about his work in folklore and traditional song. He has written a number of articles about his work on Baring-Gould and on the Victorian and Edwardian folk song collectors. He regularly delivers talks about Baring-Gould and about folk song for various organisations. He is the Secretary of the Traditional Song Forum and Chair of the Sabine Baring-Gould Appreciation Society.
Shan and Martin met in 2000 and started to sing together in 2003. Their first album together, 'Parallel Strands', was issued by WildGoose in 2005. Their repertoire is based mainly (though not exclusively) on songs from the Baring-Gould collection. They married in 2006. Shan has also become involved in work on the Baring-Gould collection and has transcribed approaching two thousand songs and song texts from his manuscripts.
What we do
We sing songs: Mostly English traditional songs, and, particularly, songs from Devon and Cornwall. The reason for this is our deep interest in the song collection made by Sabine Baring-Gould in these counties at the end of the 19th Century. We usually sing unaccompanied and in harmony, though we always include some solo items in our programme. Shan sometimes uses the autoharp to accompany her songs. We will sing in a variety of situations: Folk festivals and clubs, societies with relevant interests and, really, any group of people who are interested in hearing us.
We give talks: Over the years Martin has given a number of talks about different aspects of Baring-Gould's life and work. (Folk song, folk lore, Travels in Iceland etc.) - for a full list see our leaflet. We also have a number of programmes that involve more singing - essentially, a concert with extended links between the songs. He also talks more generally about traditional song and other song collectors.
We deliver workshops: Shan has developed a number of workshops based on her professional experience as a speech and language therapist. In these she teaches people how their voices work, how to look after them and how better to use their voices for singing. Apart from working with people on a one-to-one basis from home, she also leads workshops on a number of topics related to the singing voice. In 2015 we will be offering a workshop outlining our own approach to singing in harmony.