Norma Waterson death: Revered folk singer dies aged 82

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Norma Waterson photographed on stage in 1999 (Getty Images)
Norma Waterson photographed on stage in 1999 (Getty Images)

Folk singer Norma Waterson has died at the age of 82.

The Hull-born musician was one of the founders of seminal folk group The Watersons in the 1960s, alongside her sister Lal, brother Mike, and cousin John Harrison.

Waterson was later joined in the band by her husband, Martin Carthy.

Before her death on Sunday 30 January, Waterson had been treated in hospital for pneumonia.

Her death was announced on social media by her daughter, the musician Eliza Carthy.

“Hello all. Not much to say about such monumental sadness, but mam passed away yesterday afternoon,” wrote Carthy on Facebook today (31 January). “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. More soon. We love you Mam. Going to bring you home as soon as we can...”

Waterson had been unable to perform for years due to illness. Her younger siblings Lal and Mike died in 1998 and 2011 respectively.

Tributes to Waterson have flooded in on social media, with fans and contemporaries paying homage to one of folk music’s most revered artists.

“Very sorry to hear that Norma Waterson, the last of the singing Watersons from Hull, has passed away,” wrote Billy Bragg. “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.”

Martin Simpson wrote: “There is nothing I can say that expresses the importance of Norma Waterson and her family in my musical and personal life over the last 50 plus years. We have lost so much.”

Folk musician Jim Moray wrote: “Norma’s presence at gigs and festivals was already missed over the last ten years, but she’ll be really missed now.

“Other people sometimes get more credit, but The Watersons really did change the landscape of the UK folk revival more than anyone else.”

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