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Vashti Bunyan is a folk chanteuse and singer/songwriter, best known for her 1970 album Just Another Diamond Day, which was rediscovered in the 21st century and dusted off with a new CD issue as one of the great musical finds of its era. Born in London in 1945 -- and counting herself a direct descendant of writer/preacher John Bunyan (1629-1688) -- she first took up the guitar while a student at the Ruskin School of Fine Art and Drawing, from which she was ultimately expelled at age 18 for spending too much time writing songs and not enough time painting. A bit of a free spirit even then, she took a trip to New York and, while there, fell under the spell of Bob Dylan's music, especially his album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. Once back in London, Bunyan was committed to a career in music, and through theatrical agent Monte Mackay she soon met Rolling Stones manager/producer Andrew Loog Oldham. In his recollections in 2007, he saw and heard in her the equivalent of Juliette Gréco, Marie Laforet, and Françoise Hardy, except that she was English -- he signed her to Decca Records and for her debut single brought her the Mick Jagger/Keith Richards-penned "Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind." The record earned little attention, and Bunyan moved to Columbia for the follow-up, "Train Song," released in May of 1966.
She moved into the orbit of Oldham's Immediate Records after its founding that year and recorded a brace of sides, mostly of her own music, none of which was issued commercially. She also cut one side with the Twice as Much (Immediate's answer to Simon & Garfunkel), entitled "The Coldest Night of the Year." The latter, with its Phil Spector-like production and beautiful harmonizing, showed off her singing at its most pop-oriented and commercial. This was during what one might call the "dolly bird" phase of Bunyan's career, in which she was part of the Swinging London scene (at least musically), and one supremely atmospheric and hauntingly beautiful performance of hers that did see the light of day was "Winter Is Blue," which turned up in Peter Whitehead's documentary Tonite Let's All Make Love In London (1967). Sometime after that, she left London in a horse-drawn wagon on a two-year journey into communal living in the Hebrides, with the ultimate goal of meeting folk icon Donovan on the Isle of Skye. She later chanced to cross paths with American producer Joe Boyd, who had made his name in London recording acts such as Pink Floyd and Fairport Convention. Throughout her travels Bunyan had continued writing songs, and in 1969 she teamed with Boyd to record her debut LP, the lovely Just Another Diamond Day, which included some assistance from such British folk notables as Simon Nicol and Dave Swarbrick from Fairport Convention, and the Incredible String Band's Robin Williamson. After completing the album she left for Ireland, dropping out of music to raise a family.
Long out of print and a highly prized collectible, Just Another Diamond Day was finally reissued on CD in the summer of 2000 and attracted an extraordinary amount of enthusiastic press, as well as something like the sales to match. Suddenly, Bunyan was in demand, fans and writers knocking at her door and sending e-mails of encouragement and support. In 2005 she returned with Lookaftering, a reference to her years "lookaftering" her family. The album appeared on Fat Cat's DiCristina imprint and featured artwork by Vashti's daughter. The release was followed by a series of performances that took her all the way to New York City, among other international locales -- by that time, word had spread sufficiently about Bunyan as a rediscovered talent that the New York performance rated mention in The New York Times. In 2007, Fat Cat/DiCristina released Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind, a compilation of Vashti Bunyan's 1960s Decca, Columbia, and Immediate recordings, plus a set of demos dating from 1964.
Jennifer Vashti Bunyan (born 1945 in Newcastle) is an English singer-songwriter. In 1970, Bunyan released her first album, Just Another Diamond Day. The album sold very few copies, and Bunyan, discouraged, abandoned her musical career. By 2000, her album had acquired a cult following; it was re-released and Bunyan recorded more songs, initiating the second phase of her musical career after a gap of thirty years.
Vashti Bunyan was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1945 to John and Helen Bunyan. Although she has been said to be descended from The Pilgrim's Progress author John Bunyan, this is a claim she has herself denied. In the early 1960s, she studied at The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at Oxford University, but was expelled for failing to turn up to classes. At 18, she travelled to New York and discovered the music of Bob Dylan through his The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan album and decided to become a full-time musician. Returning to London she was discovered by Rolling Stones' manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, and, in June 1965, under his direction, she released her first single, the Jagger and Richards penned "Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind" (their own version later turning up on the outtakes compilation Metamorphosis), on Decca Records. Released using simply the name Vashti, it was backed with her own song "I Want to Be Alone". The single and her follow-up "Train Song", released on Columbia in May 1966, produced by Canadian Peter Snell, received little attention. Her only other performance of this time to find release was her distinctive vocal on "The Coldest Night of the Year" with Twice as Much (which eventually turned up on their second and final LP, That's All, appearing on Oldham's Immediate Records in 1968). After recording further songs for Immediate Records, which remain unreleased, and making a brief appearance in the 1967 documentary Tonite Let's All Make Love in London, performing her song "Winter Is Blue", she decided to travel with her boyfriend Robert Lewis by horse and cart to the Hebridean Islands to join a commune planned by a friend, fellow singer/songwriter Donovan ("...from South London up to the Hebrides. Initially to Skye but we carried on to the Outer Hebrides."). During the trip she began writing the songs that eventually became her first album, Just Another Diamond Day.
During a break from her trip at Christmas 1968, she met Joe Boyd through a friend and he offered to record an album of her travelling songs for his Witchseason Productions. A year later Vashti returned to London and recorded her first LP with assistance from Simon Nicol and Dave Swarbrick of Fairport Convention, Robin Williamson of The Incredible String Band and string arranger Robert Kirby, today best known for his work on Nick Drake's first two albums. The album appeared on Philips Records to warm reviews in December 1970, but struggled to find an audience. Disappointed, she left the music industry and moved to The Incredible String Band's Glen Row cottages, then Ireland. Much of the ensuing 30 years were spent raising her three children and tending animals. In this time, entirely unknown to her, the original album slowly became one of the most sought-after records of its time. It has sold on eBay for as much as $2000.
In 2000, Just Another Diamond Day was re-released on CD (with bonus tracks), assuring her influence over a new generation of folk artists such as Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom. In 2001, Banhart wrote to her asking for her advice, beginning her connection with many of the contemporary performers who cite her work. In 2002, she was invited by Piano Magic musician Glen Johnson to sing guest vocals on his song "Crown of the Lost", her first recording in over 30 years. Since then, she has appeared on releases by Devendra Banhart and Animal Collective and, in 2005, she recorded and released her second album, Lookaftering on Fat Cat Records, some 35 years after her first. The album was produced by composer Max Richter and featured many of her contemporary followers including Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Adem, Kevin Barker of Currituck Co, Otto Hauser of Espers and Adam Pierce of Mice Parade. It was well received by critics and fans alike.
During the autumn of 2006, Bunyan assembled an ad hoc band and embarked on a brief North American tour, with performances in both Canada and the US. She performed songs from both of her solo albums, as well as some of the rare material from the unreleased Oldham sessions.
Her music reached a much wider audience when "Just Another Diamond Day" was used in a TV advert for T-Mobile. "Train Song" gained her further attention when it was used in 2008 by Reebok for an ad for the NFL.
In 2007, she collaborated with Scottish novelist Rodge Glass on the song "The Fire" for the compilation album Ballads of the Book. The album was devised by Roddy Woomble of Idlewild, as a way to combine Scottish writers with Scottish singers, though in this case Bunyan must have been included by virtue of living in Edinburgh.
October 2007 saw the release of a compilation album of her mid-1960s singles and unreleased demos recorded at the time entitled Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind - Singles and Demos 1964 to 1967.
2007 also saw Vashti provide vocals on three songs for former Jack frontman Anthony Reynolds' debut solo album British Ballads. Bunyan sang with Reynolds on the songs "Country Girl", "Just So You Know" and "Song Of Leaving".
In January 2008, Vashti said she was recording a new album. "I’m supposed to be writing just now. I have one complete song and a whole lot of fragments. I’m supposed to have them finished by May and there’s no way. I’m hoping, and the plan is, I’ll be working with Andy Cabic of Vetiver."
In June 2008, Vashti appeared at London's Royal Festival Hall with The Heritage Orchestra as part of Massive Attack's Meltdown, in a live performance of Vangelis' Blade Runner soundtrack, singing "Rachael's Song" as sung by Mary Hopkin on the original recorded soundtrack.
On 25 October 2008, Vashti Bunyan: From Here To Before, a feature documentary directed by Kieran Evans had its world premieres at the Times BFI London Film Festival. The film retraces Bunyan’s journey across the British Isles and sets it against the backdrop of her first high-profile London concert. It uses her trip through Britain as its main narrative structure, accompanying her as she retraces her extraordinary journey. The album provides the soundtrack to that journey, just as it did the first time.
Bunyan's cover of the late John Martyn's "Head and Heart" appeared on the 2011 tribute album, Johnny Boy Would Love This...A Tribute to John Martyn.
Critical reception 
Bunyan has been labelled "the Godmother of Freak Folk" for her role in inspiring the "new generation of folk experimentalists including Devendra Banhart and Adem".
Some internet journalistic sources categorize her music as folk, psych folk, or new folk.