Interview with Annie Harding, 24 September 1999
Level: Category
Sound Archive
Level: Fonds
Level: Series
Essex Folk Movement Oral History Project
Level: Sub-Series
Scope and Content:
Annie Harding [AH] interviewed by Sue Cubbin [SC] in Thaxted on 24 September 1999. AH talks about singing in Essex folk clubs, Morris dancing as a woman, the music scene in Thaxted, and the state of folk music at the time of the interview. AH's husband Pete [PH] also speaks in the interview.

Tape 1 Side A

[00:00:00] AH talks about her family; music at home; radio music; pop music in the 1960s; music at school, her nerves in front of her class, singing classes, and singing in unison.
[00:05:09] Country dancing at school to records or piano; the lack of music at secondary school; taking piano lessons aged 10; singing in a Catholic church choir in Billericay, aged 13, harmony, Latin masses, motets, Gregorian chants, specialist singing at Easter.
[00:09:54] Listening to pop music; lack of local concerts; live bands on Sundays at youth club; Friday night dances at Billericay School.
[00:11:16] Discovering Chelmsford Folk Club; dating someone involved in Roxwell Folk Club; singing with her boyfriend; making friends at the folk clubs; continuing to sing solo after breaking up with the boyfriend; traditional repertoire, 'Four Strong Winds'; listening by ear and learning songs at Chelmsford Record Library; the first song she sang, 'As I Roved Out' [sings the first verse]; singing in public; discovering her voice; singing to herself.
[00:22:33] Regularly visiting Chelmsford, Brentwood, Havering, and Blackmore Folk Clubs; people who attended different clubs; learning songs from folk club singers in the 1970s, their repertoire; singing with Reg Beecham and a nervous guitarist.
[00:24:16] The dominance of male singers at folk clubs; encouragement; cliques. [00:28:24] Discovering Blackmore Morris; dancing as a woman, Cotswolds Morris around 1972-73; their dress.

Tape 1 Side B

[00:00:00] The formation of the Women's Morris Federation, encouragement of women's Morris sides from Roy Dommet and Toby Reynolds; different styles of Morris dancing; the decline of the women's Morris side.
[00:01:52] Moving to Thaxted in 1977, less time for singing; learning step-clog; singing in pubs after Morris sessions; returning to folk clubs more recently; her relationship with Barnstaple Morris in the late 1970s; running Chelmsford Folk Weekends in the late 1970s; the feast and ceilidh; the Folk Weekend run by her husband coinciding with National Folk Day.
[00:08:31] Attending Thaxted Ring meetings in the late 1970s; the lack of music scene in Thaxted or time for attending folk clubs. AH and PH discuss the growth of the music scene; jazz and classical festivals; Simon Ritchie [SR] and Bobbie Ritchie [BR] moving next door, their relationship with SR; the revival of country dancing in Thaxted and BR's involvement; fifth Tuesday music session at the Rose and Crown and John Walker's involvement; performing with Jen; future concerts organised by John; folk and non-folk repertoire.
[00:18:57] AH and PH discuss the growth of other music scenes in Thaxted; age groups; AH's involvement in other genres; the benefit of having more venues for singing; expanding genres in folk clubs; the lack of audience for English folk music and expansion of Irish 'Celtic' music; the remoteness of folk music from ordinary people; interest in pub sessions in Essex and Cambridgeshire since the mid-1980s; differences between sessions and folk clubs; not joining the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS).

Tape 2 Side A

[00:00:00] AH talks about getting back involved in singing; different styles of singing and the effect on her voice; enjoying singing; how she listens to music.
Dates of Creation:
24 September 1999
1 hour 8 minutes 55 seconds
Creator Name:
Sue Cubbin
Admin History:
Annie Harding (b.1950, Upminster) became a regular singer at Essex's folk clubs after discovering Chelmsford Folk Club in the early 1970s. Briefly (and unusually, for women at the time) she was involved in Cotswold Morris at the foundation of the Women's Morris Federation in the early 1970s. She also helped organise the Chelmsford Folk Weekends in the mid-1970s. Her interest in singing waned after marrying Pete Harding and moving to Thaxted in 1977, but she later became involved in pub sessions and began to sing more regularly again.
Archivist Note:
Copyright transferred to ESVA
Physical Characteristics:
3 MP3 files [digital copies of original cassettes]
Related Unit of Description:
For a handwritten transcript of this recording, see SA 30/7/1/16/3
Dates of Description:
May 2022
Not Available:
Digital item(s). For access please email ero.enquiry@essex.gov.uk