Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
Among the latest in a long line of British female vocalists, Julie Murphy has quickly risen to the upper echelon of British folk music. Her debut solo album, Black Mountain Revisited, released in 1999, was named Folk Album of the Year' by Mojo magazine. Her collaborations include a concert at London's Dome with Kenyan musician Ayub Ogada, a duo, Whirling Pope Joan, with ex-Blowzabella hurdy-gurdy player Nigel Eaton and a guest appearance on the debut album by Welsh hip-hop band Tystion. Together with ex-Velvet Underground multi-instrumentalist and vocalist John Cale, she recorded the soundtrack of the film Beautiful Mistakes. Since 1996, Murphy has performed and recorded with her band, featuring guitarist Dylan Fowler and fiddler Kate Ronconi, and Fernhill, a Welsh folk band that she shares with diatonic button accordionist Andy Cutting, bagpipe, hornpipe, and oboe player Jonathan Shorland and cittern and reeds player Ceri Rhys Matthews. Folk Roots called her, "the major new U.K. folk voice of recent years," while Living Traditions remarked that "her vocals are superb. She is relaxed and powerful and moves easily from hard-edged lyrics to soft, sensitive, ballads."
A native of Essex, England, Murphy was initially drawn to popular American R&B vocalists including Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder. While attending art school, she performed with a punk band. Moving to a Welsh-speaking village in the Teifi Valley, she became fascinated by the intricacies of traditional Welsh music. Joining forces with Nigel Eaton, she formed a duo, Whirling Pope Joan, in 1994. The duo recorded one album, Spin. Two years later, she worked with an early music ensemble, Sinfonye, on an album of songs by composer Hildegard of Bilgen and began working with Fernhill, with whom she's recorded three albums: Ca Nos, Uatai, and Whirlia. Following the release of her debut album, Black Mountain Revisted, in 1999, Murphy toured as opening act for Robert Plant.