Maddy Prior (born 14 August 1947, Blackpool, England) is an English folk singer.
Born in Blackpool, Prior moved in her teens to St Albans
, where she befriended the young Donovan Leitch
and Mac MacLeod
. She later formed a duo with MacLeod called Mac & Maddy. She became a roadie for visiting American
musicians, including Reverend Gary Davis
. They gave her useful advice about singing British folk
songs instead of American
songs. She decided not to copy the repertoire of Joan Baez
, as Baez was already the undisputed mistress of it.
Maddy's father, Allan Prior
, was co-creator of the police drama Z-Cars
. Allan Prior also wrote Stookie
, a 6-part series for television, about a boy with his arm in a sling. Maddy sang the title song, which was released as a single in 1985. It reappeared on the Steeleye Span album Rarities 1972 - 96
In 1966 she began performing with Tim Hart
, another St Albans resident, and together they recorded two albums before becoming founding members of Steeleye Span
in 1970. They were the backbone of the group until the early 1980s when ill-health forced Tim into semi-retirement. Apart from the tambourine
Prior doesn't play an instrument, but she always gives a sprightly performance of her individual dances. In 1974 Ralph McTell
wrote "Maddy Dances" in her honour, included on his album "Easy".
Prior married bassist Rick Kemp; the singer Rose Kemp is their daughter.
Although best known as the powerful contralto in Steeleye Span, Prior has recorded session work, albums of her own songs and eclectic styles from medieval, through electric folk, prog-rock and traditional songs, including session work on Mike Oldfield's Incantations. She left Steeleye Span in 1997 but returned in 2002. The 1999 album "The Journey" was recorded in 1995, when Maddy was still in the band but not released until four years later. She was also one half of the duo Silly Sisters, which helped to launch June Tabor's career as a folk singer.
Since 2003, Prior has run and hosted an Arts Centre called Stones Barn in Cumbria. Working with fellow singers and performers like Abbie Lathe and Rose Kemp, Maddy has offered residential courses focusing on singing, meditation, cookery and performance. Other events, hosted by other teachers, include classical Indian dances, painting and drumming. Maddy campaigns on behalf of the charity Cancer UK.
Recent tours and albums
Prior took to the road with the Carnival Band in May 2007 for their "Music for Tavern and Chapel" tour. They celebrated the 300th anniversary of one of the key influences on their work, Charles Wesley. She made a guest appearance with The Levellers
at the Solfest
Festival in Cumbria in August 2007. On recent albums Troy Donockley
has been a co-producer.
In December 2007 the album "Ringing The Changes" was issued. It is a collection of songs written by the band. On her website - www.maddyprior.co.uk - Maddy has revealed that she is undergoing treatment for skin cancer.
In 2001 Prior was awarded the MBE
for services to folk music.
With Steeleye Span
Prior was on all the Steeleye Span
albums from Hark! The Village Wait
(1970) to Time
(1996). She then returned for Present--The Very Best of Steeleye Span
(2002) and subsequent albums.
Tim Hart and Maddy Prior
Maddy Prior and Tim Hart
Maddy Prior, John Kirkpatrick and Sydney Carter
Maddy Prior and Martin Carthy
- Beat the Retreat (1994) Maddy Prior and Martin Carthy perform two songs, "Farewell, Farewell", and "The Great Valerio" on this Richard Thompson tribute album.
Maddy Prior singles
- 1. Rollercoaster/ I Told You So (1978)
- 2. Baggy Pants/ Woman in the Wings (1978)
- 3. Just the Two of Us/ Acappella Stella (1979)
- 4. Wake up England/ Paradise (1980)
- 5. The King/ Ringing Down the Years (1980)
- 6. To Face/ Half Listening (1982)
- 7. Deep in the Darkest Night/ Western Movies (1983)
- 8. Stookie/ Incidental Music From "Stookie" (1985)
- 9. Happy Families/ Who's Sorry Now? (1990)
- 10. I Saw Three Ships/ Quem Pastores/ Monsieur Charpentier's Christmas Swing (1991)
- 11. I Saw Three Ships (Dance Doctor's Christmas Re-Mix)/ The Boar's Head/ Poor Little Jesus (1992)
- 12. All Around My Hat (1996)
- 13. Forgiveness (2000)
- 14. Gaudete/ Greenwood Side/ Gaudete (extended mix) (2001)
- 15. Stuff (2007)
- 10 by Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band.
- 12 by Status Quo with Maddy Prior (other tracks without Maddy Prior).
- 13 by Jennifer Cutting All-Stars (Jennifer Cutting, Maddy Prior, John Jennings and Dave Mattacks)
- 14 by Keltic Fusion (Troy Donockley, Nick Holland, Rose Kemp, Jacqui McShee and Maddy Prior.)
- Maddy's voice is sampled
- 15 by Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band featuring oddly enough Terry Jones
- Ballads and Candles (2004)
- An Evening of Carols and Capers (2005)
- Looking For a Grail Legend (2007) (documentary)
As a session or guest singer
She appeared on these albums: