Norma Waterson

~ Person

Also performs as: Thorngumbold Fontenot


Norma Christine Waterson (born 15 August 1939) is an English musician, best known as one of the original members of The Watersons, a celebrated English traditional group. Other members of the group included her brother Mike Waterson and sister Lal Waterson, a cousin John Harrison, and in later incarnations of the group her husband Martin Carthy.

Waterson was born in Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire and brought up there by her grandmother, who was half-Gypsy. Her eponymously titled solo debut Norma Waterson was produced by John Chelew and released by Hannibal Records in 1996, and was well received in the scene (including a nomination for the Mercury Music Prize), featuring collaborations with her daughter, Eliza Carthy, Martin Carthy and other members of The Watersons, as well as Danny Thompson (Pentangle), Richard Thompson (Fairport Convention) and Roger Swallow (Albion Country Band).

In 1999, the follow-up The Very Thought of You was released by Hannibal Records and once again features Richard Thompson, Danny Thompson, Eliza Carthy and husband Martin Carthy.

In 2001, she released her first solo traditional folk album, Bright Shiny Morning, on Topic Records.

She is a member of Waterson:Carthy with Martin Carthy and Eliza Carthy, and of the "supergroup" Blue Murder. She has appeared on a variety of collective recordings, notably Peter Bellamy's The Transports. In 2008, Norma made a guest appearance alongside Mike Waterson on Scottish musician James Yorkston's album When the Haar Rolls in, singing her sister Lal Waterson's song, "Midnight Feast".

In 2009 the accompanying book to the Topic Records 70 year anniversary boxed set Three Score and Ten lists two Watersons albums and one Waterson:Carthy album as classic albums. These are Frost and Fire, For Pence and Spiced Ale and Waterson:Carthy. The tracks that Norma performs on are Hal-An-Tow track eleven on the second CD, Three Score and Ten track seventeen and We Poor Labouring Men with Waterson:Carthy track twenty one both on the sixth CD and with Blue Murder on No One Stands Alone on track twenty two of the seventh CD.

In 2010, Waterson released an album of collaborations with her daughter Eliza entitled Gift. A BBC reviewer wrote: "The gift in question here, one gathers, is a handing of talent from generation to generation; Norma Waterson and Eliza Carthy are, after all, the sublimely gifted mother and daughter who make up part of British folk’s great dynasty." Commenting on the final song, "Shallow Brown", the reviewer noted: "Backed variously by other family members, including Eliza’s father Martin Carthy on guitar as well as her cousin Oliver Knight on electric guitar, vocals and cello, there is a real sense of congregation and rootedness about this song, and indeed this record as a whole. Long may the dynasty flourish."

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Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1977 A True Hearted Girl Lal & Norma Waterson 2
1996 Norma Waterson Norma Waterson 1
1999 The Very Thought of You Norma Waterson 1
2000 Bright Shiny Morning Norma Waterson 1
2010 Gift Eliza Carthy & Norma Waterson 1

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