J U N E T A B O R ~ a s h o r t b i o g r a p h y
" always that voice wins you over, turning history into passion before your very ears: unafraid, unadorned and completely beautiful."
Born in Warwick, educated at Oxford University, by profession first librarian, then restaurateur but always a singer of songs where words matter as much as music, June Tabor is renowned as an explorer of a song's soul and a performer of gripping commitment. Her recorded work over the last 35 years shows a diversity of inspirations. Highlights include the early simplicity of the largely traditional Airs and Graces (1976), more modern material in a minimalist setting on A Cut Above (1980), Abyssinians (1983) and Aqaba (1988), the richness and diversity of Angel Tiger (1992) and Aleyn (1997, recorded live), A Quiet Eye (1999) with the Creative Jazz Orchestra adding inspirational weight and colour, and Rosa Mundi (2001), a very personal celebration of the Rose. An Echo of Hooves (2003), dedicated to the story-telling power of the traditional Ballad, was particularly well-received and brought June the 'Singer of the Year' award at the 2004 BBC Folk Awards. She was subsequently filmed in concert for BBC4 Sessions, produced by the same team that has presented her twice on BBC TV's 'Later with Jools Holland'. 2005 saw two releases, both on Topic Records - the career-overview 4-CD boxed set Always, and a new mainstream album At the Wood's Heart (2005). Early 2006 heralded a promising new musical relationship with English saxophonist/composer Iain Ballamy in the trio Quercus (along with June's long-time accompanist, pianist Huw Warren). The year also brought her back together with the Renga Ensemble of the London Philharmonic Orchestra for a further performance of a song cycle 'Soldier, Sailor, Shepherd' derived from the work of the C20th collector/folklorist Ruth L. Tongue. Touring in 2006 brought Andy Cutting and Mark Emerson to the fore as an accompanying duo, leading to the album Apples (2007) adding Tim Harries' double bass and creating a dynamic piece of work with a character new to June's recordings. In the same year, at the Manchester International Festival, she performed Turner Prize winner Douglas Gordon's piece 'It's only real when it's dark' as part of Phillipe Pareno's 'Il Tempo Del Postino' (with a repeat performance at Basle Art Festival 2009). Two special performances of sea-related repertoire - '09 at London Southbank and '10 at Bristol Old Vic (with actor Simon Russell Beale) - were instrumental in the development of the material for the next album release Ashore in February 2011, which had its launch concert at the Minghella Film Festival. Later in the year, June took part,singing unaccompanied in the Royal Albert Hall,in a BBC Prom to celebrate the music of Percy Grainger, and later an autumn tour with Oysterband marked the September release of Ragged Kingdom - a second collaboration, 20 years on. The 2012 BBC Folk Awards brought June the Folk Singer of the Year accolade (again!), along with three awards shared with Oysterband - best album, best group and best traditional track, thus ensuring that the Ragged Kingdom project would spend further time on the road.
"As I get older, Tabor says, I understand more the depths of sorrow and joy that made the song." (The Guardian)
Notable collaborations, in addition to that with the CJO, have been with Maddy Prior as Silly Sisters, with Oysterband on the roots-rock classic Freedom and Rain (1990), with harpist Savourna Stevenson and bassist Danny Thompson on Singing the Storm (1996), and with various international artists over a long period for the Passchendaele peace concerts. The long-term musical partnerships, with guitarist Martin Simpson (first recorded on A Cut Above, 1980), and subsequently with pianist Huw Warren, have each made a significant contribution to the development of a remarkable artist who continues to portray the world's glory and grief in exquisite and poignant style.
"June Tabor... is quite simply one of Britain's greatest interpreters of popular song. She is a performer with an extraordinary range and the ability to mix intensity, passion and drama with a chillingly lived in voice that makes every song sound like a personal experience" (The Guardian)
In live performance, expect to be enthralled by this dark-voiced storyteller whose broad repertoire sets the anonymous genius of folk poetry alongside work from both the celebrated and the unsung heroes of modern British writing; expect an interweaving of words and music that will create an atmosphere to haunt the memory.
"As a paragon of the virtues that folk music holds in its cultural armoury, June Tabor must surely rate as number one. Her repertoire has never been blinkered by a quest for authenticity: she has covered all territories from Weimar ballads via jazz to the most trad of trad English folk. And yet, the sense of scholarship that she brings to her work never lets you forget that you are listening to, perhaps, the greatest interpreter and curator of indigenous British music." (Chris Jones, bbc.co.uk/music)
Follow the link below to a good discography (for which we thank Reinhard Zierke)