Margaret Barry: I Sang Through the Fairs

(
Rounder Records
)

Recorded in 1953 by Alan Lomax and Peter Kennedy
Notes by Matthew Barton

The keening voice and rattling banjo of Irish street singer Margaret Barry were mainstays of the traditional music scene in England and Ireland from the 1950s until her death in 1989. She was born in Cork, in 1917, into a family of Travelers and street musicians. Her grandfather had been a prize-winning uilleann piper, and Margaret taught herself to play banjo and fiddle. After her mother’s death, Margaret took off and began singing in the streets, at fairs, and at football matches, “sociables,” and private homes. She recounts these experiences on this album, where in intimate performances and interviews, she reveals the depth of her art, passion, and vulnerability.

“Without a doubt a wonderful, very important record.” —Musical Traditions