Angeline Morrison - The Sorrow Songs

The Sorrow Songs: Folk Songs of Black British Experience is the upcoming record by Cornwall-based folk singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Angeline Morrison. Produced by Eliza Carthy and featuring some of her beautiful, soaring string arrangements, The Sorrow Songs was recorded in Cornwall at Cube Studios and is a work of what Angeline calls ‘re-storying’:

“The traditional songs of the UK are rich with storytelling, and you can find songs with examples of almost any kind of situation or person you can think of. But whilst people of the African diaspora have been present in these islands since at least Roman times, their histories are little known – and these histories don’t tend to appear in the folk songs of these islands.”

Angeline Morrison began to wonder if she could discover more about the lives of these ordinary and extraordinary Black ancestors, and create an album of songs in the sonic style of UK folk and traditional music, in the hope that this silent space could then begin to be filled with stories. With the help of Arts Council National Lottery funding, Angeline began what became a year of research into this neglected area of Black British history. The Sorrow Songs: Folk Songs of Black British Experience is the result.

Releasing to commemorate Black History Month, this powerful record is intended to honour these Black ancestors who lived in these islands, and to act as a gift to the folk community. Angeline tells, “What I would really love is for people to want to sing these songs. I wrote each song with a chorus or refrain that I hope will be singable, so that people might want to sing them in folk clubs, and in doing so these stories will continue to be re-told in song.”

The album title is inspired by W.E.B du Bois’ 1903 classic of African American literature, ‘The Souls of Black Folk’, which Angeline re-read after the killing of George Floyd in 2020. Chapter xiv, ‘Of The Sorrow Songs,’ is all about the folk songs of enslaved Africans in America and their descendants. Angeline, a descendant of enslaved African people, explains that: “This chapter speaks to the fact that this body of folk song acts as a container for the history of the enslaved populations in America, as a way of communicating their unspeakable pain, and a way of giving voice to a people who had been rendered voiceless.”

The stellar line-up of musicians on this album includes Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne (anglo concertina, melodeon, vocals), Clarke Camilleri (guitar, banjo, vocals), Hamilton Gross (violin, vocals), Rosie Crow (piano, vocals), Alex Neilson (drums, vocals), Eliza Carthy (violin, fiddlesticks, vocals), Angeline Morrison (vocals, autoharp, double bass) and features Martin Carthy on the album’s closing track, ‘Slave No More’.

Angeline Morrison was also recently awarded the prestigious Christian Raphael Prize, supported by Cambridge Folk Festival. She is the fourth recipient of one of the most significant competitions throughout the country, for key emerging talent in this genre of music and was announced recently at the festival this year.

“The Sorrow Songs is a ground-breaking album; the music is excellent throughout, beautifully enhanced by the album’s exemplary artwork and packaging.”Folk Radioread full review

“Angeline Morrison paves the way and offers an authentic, brave folk voice of black British experience. In doing so, she presents us with a collection of songs that feel incredibly overdue. Long may they be sung out and loud.”Tradfolk.coread full review

“An important, essential folk album which casts light on the hidden history of black people in these sceptred /blighted isles.”Americana-UK (9/10)read full review

“Morrison’s courage in reconstructing folk repertoire is truly revolutionary.”New Internationalist Magazine (5 stars)

For press enquiry’s please contact Jo Donnelly and Josh Hart

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