Sam Lee

  • function:
    director
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participation in

  • WOMEX 2017
  • WOMEX 2016
  • WOMEX 2015
  • WOMEX 2014
  • WOMEX 2013
  • WOMEX 2011
  • WOMEX 2010

Sam Lee, folk singer, promoter and animateur was the 2011 Arts Foundation Award winner, which for the first time this year, honoured folk music amongst its art forms. This coveted development grant recognises the unique journey Sam’s music is taking as well as the less than conventional route getting there. Although a gifted singer, this was completely unknown to him until his first encounter with folk song some 5 years ago. This discovery of an unheard music compelled him to abandon his then career as a trained visual artist, teacher of wilderness survival and moonlighter as a burlesque dancer and embark on a journey into the songs of old Britannia. Sam is fast becoming accepted as one of the new pioneers defining the sound, sight and texture of contemporary folksong. This is most notable in his forthcoming debut album ‘Ground Of Its Own’ released later in 2011. Likewise his live band carves an acoustic with their homemade and mongrelised instrumentation and unconventional arrangements that challenge any preconceptions of what ‘tradition’ should sounds like.

In 2009 Sam also starred in the 9 minute folk pop-video ‘The Gainsborough Packet’, the visionary art film directed by Beck’s Futures winner Matt Stokes’ commissioned by The Baltic in Gateshead and London’s 176 Gallery. The film brings to life the epic true story of a North East Folk hero John Burdikin through Alasdair Anderson and Jon Boden’s specially composed song. This ground breaking project was a first in the soon to be popularised collaboration between contemporary art and traditional music.

Sam is also an award-winning promoter and live events producer through his 2010 BBC Folk club of the year ‘The Magpie’s Nest’. The Nest has played a key role in the resurgence of the creative live folk music scene and is behind many innovative concerts across London, festival stages around the UK and occasionally on radio and television.

On an experiential note, Sam’s only real musical training has come via a unique 4 year apprenticeship under the legendary and sadly late Scottish Traveller Stanley Robertson last of the great ballad singers. Sam became the musical ‘next of kin’ to Stanley’s vast repertoire of songs and an ancient, idiosyncratic Traveller singing craft. While travelling himself he is also to be found creating ground breaking research documenting the music and stories of the Romany Gypsy and Irish Traveller communities.
Sam is a regular teacher at Newcastle University, Goldsmiths College, the EFDSS and despite failings by both Cecil Sharp and Vaughan Williams’ to gain permission, holds the accolade as the first folk singer ever to teach and sing at the Royal College of Music

Sam Lee


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