Norma Waterson has died aged 82

One of the most distinctive voices in English folk has fallen silent

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Norma Waterson has died at the age of 82, her family have revealed.

The news was revealed by Waterson’s daughter Eliza Carthy.

No cause of death has yet been revealed, but in a recent fundraiser attempt, Eliza revealed that her mother had been hospitalised with pneumonia.


“Not much to say about such monumental sadness, but mam passed away yesterday afternoon, January 30th 2022,” Eliza wrote on Facebook.

“Thinking of everyone who has supported and donated and just been there for us the last few weeks, the last few years, and through all of her triumphs and trials.

“Our only hope is that she is with Lal and Mike and her mum and dad now, being held and welcomed and finally without pain.


Her message concluded: “We love you Mam. Going to bring you home as soon as we can.”

Hello all. Not much to say about such monumental sadness, but mam passed away yesterday afternoon, January 30th 2022. …

Posted by Eliza Carthy on Monday, January 31, 2022

Carthy’s message also featured a link to a fundraiser set up by the family in recent weeks, aiming to raise funds for her father Martin Carty and Norma after their income “dried up” due to a lack of live performance revenue during the pandemic.

“Right now the Carthy family, as many others, is struggling to survive the pandemic,” Eliza wrote in the fundraising page on website Ko-Fi, with Waterson having been unable to tour for years due to illness.

“They urgently need funds to tide them over until the pandemic lifts and Martin and Eliza can return to touring and become self sufficient,” the message added.

“During the pandemic Eliza recorded a new album. Once touring resumes there will be that extra income stream plus the small income derived from the limited releases of the Waterson Family Archive. Until then the family is hard-pressed, and any donations you can make will be greatly appreciated.”

Donations to Martin and Eliza Carthy can be made here.

In the wake of the news of Waterson’s death, tributes have been pouring in online. Billy Bragg paid his respects on Twitter, writing: “Very sorry to hear that Norma Waterson, the last of the singing Watersons from Hull, has passed away.

“She started out as a skiffler and went on to become one of the defining voices of English traditional music. My thoughts are with Martin and Eliza and the rest of the family.”

Born in Hull in 1939, her family band, the Watersons, with her younger sister Lal and brother Mike and their cousin John Harrison, helped to spearhead the folk revival in the 1960s.

Norma released her self-titled debut album in 1996, which went on to be nominated for that year’s Mercury Prize.

Her final album, Anchor, was released by Topic Records in 2018, and featured Eliza, a regular collaborator of hers.


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