In an English folk scene currently bursting with bold and innovative folk music, vocal trio Lady Maisery shine brightly. With their unique approach to harmony singing, intelligent and thoughtful arrangements of both traditional repertoire and original compositions, Hazel Askew, Hannah James and Rowan Rheingans harness and celebrate their united voice. Whether unearthing a feminist twist hidden in a traditional tale, delivering a poignant anti-war ballad, or showcasing their immense multi-instrumental talents in original compositions that draw on a myriad of musical influences, Lady Maisery are skilful explorers of the power, beauty and vitality of song. Over the last five years, the trio have toured widely, performing sell-out shows across the UK and Europe.
Underpinning every performance are Lady Maisery’s distinctive harmonies: sometimes lush and rich, sometimes dark and invigorating, they intertwine with assured precision. The trio are also one of the foremost English proponents of mouth music, or “diddling” – once common in England, and still found across parts of southern and northern Europe, this form of singing without words is a perfect showcase for their sheer musicality. Each also an accomplished instrumentalist, many songs are expertly accompanied by a rich tapestry of Rowan’s fiddle, banjo and bansitar, Hazel’s harp and concertina and Hannah’s accordion and foot percussion.
Since the release of their debut album in 2011, ‘Weave and Spin’ (named Album of the Week by the Independent newspaper), Lady Maisery have attracted substantial attention, including being nominated for the Horizon Award at the 2012 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and regularly appearing live on national radio. Their second album ‘Mayday’ (2013), a darker and more politically coloured record, cemented their growing reputation as a truly unique band on the English folk scene, with five star reviews from the likes of The Financial Times newspaper, music critics called it an album full of “ideas, purpose and urgency…powerful, enthralling work” (Songlines). Their much anticipated third album Cycle was released in October 2016 with a sell-out 23 date tour and more rave reviews from the national press. The Guardian called it “some of the most some of the most exquisite, thrilling vocal harmony work in the English folk scene”.
Lady Maisery’s members are all highly respected performers in their own right: Hannah James is currently touring her first solo show ‘Jigdoll’ and also plays in folk legend Maddy Prior’s trio ‘3 for Joy’; Rowan Rheingans is half of BBC Radio 2 Folk Award (‘Best Original Track’ 2016) winning duo The Rheingans Sisters and also plays with BBC Folk Singer of the Year Nancy Kerr & The Sweet Visitor Band. Hazel Askew is well known as a musician and singer in award winning duo Askew Sisters, the early music group The Artisans and has also composed for films. All three are also key members of the English/Scottish supergroup ‘Songs of Separation’ whose debut album and stunning premiere at Celtic Connections festival pushed them straight into the indie album charts top 20 in January 2016 – a very rare accolade British folk!