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A still from the Angeline Morrison of the Brown Girl, in which she sits in the grass alongside a Cornish road, wearing her hair in a bun on top of her head.

Angeline Morrison curates new archive for EFDSS on Black History and Folk Song in the UK

Angeline Morrison partners with EFDSS to unveil a resource on Black British History and its ties to UK folk songs, shedding light on hidden narratives.

Angeline Morrison, celebrated for her acclaimed album The Sorrow Songs: Folk Songs of Black British Experience – named The Guardian‘s folk album of the year in 2022 and hugely praised here on Tradfolk – has returned to Cecil Sharp House in recent months to further her work. Commissioned by the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS), Morrison has developed an educational resource that delves deep into black British history and its relationship with traditional folk songs.

Morrison has said: “For many years it was commonly believed that there were no black people at all in the UK until the mid-20th century, with the exception of a few enslaved Africans, or servants. If this were true, it would explain why we don’t often hear from the perspective of black characters in traditional songs. However, recent and emerging scholarship shows that black people and other people of colour have in fact been living and working in Britain for at least two thousand years.” She continued, “I was so very, very proud to be invited by EFDSS to research and write this educational resource on Black History for schools.”

The resource extensively investigates the UK’s often-overlooked histories of individuals of African origin. It’s noteworthy that the descendants of these individuals continue to reside in Britain today. The exploration sheds light on their ancestors’ ties to traditional songs that have remained a part of British cultural heritage.

The primary goals of this resource are multifaceted:

  • Recognizing and celebrating the invaluable contributions of black individuals to the British way of life.
  • Broadening and enriching interpretations of English folk music.
  • Advocating learning from various viewpoints, thereby illustrating that folk songs, along with the tales they narrate, resonate with everyone irrespective of their origins or heritage. It passionately encourages learners to interact with traditional songs imaginatively, giving birth to fresh interpretations and insights.

Designed meticulously for Upper Key Stage 3, 4, and 5 (catering to those aged 14 and over), this resource is versatile. Educators can seamlessly integrate it across numerous curriculum facets, spanning from music, English, drama, history, performing arts, citizenship, to PSHE (Personal, Social & Health Education).

With Morrison’s commitment to illuminating the rich tapestry of Black British history interwoven with folk music, educators and learners alike are poised to benefit immensely. This initiative not only enhances the understanding of the nation’s diverse history but also champions the cause of inclusivity in storytelling through song.

In other Angeline Morrison news this week, the singer has also announced the release of a new limited-edition, lathe-cut vinyl release, coming out on Fenny Compton (an imprint of Woodford Halse). Details are currently scarce, but it appears to be a single featuring ‘It’s Not Fine’ (a self-penned song) and ‘Bushes and Briars’ [Roud 1027]. Keep an eye on her Instagram account for further info.

For more details on the new resource and how to access it, visit the Black British History and Folk Song resource on the EFDSS website.