Singer’s pilgrimage to Plath’s grave ahead of folk festival performance this weekend

On the festival bill
On the festival bill

Folk singer Kathryn Williams will make an emotional pilgrimage to Sylvia Plath’s grave before her headline spot at this weekend’s Folk Roots Festival.

The Mercury Prize nominated singer songwriter will trek up to Heptonstall before her gig at the Trades Club to get inspiration for an album she is writing about the tragic author who took her own life in 1963, writes Paul Clarke.

“A few years ago I got asked to be a poet in residence at Alnwick Gardens, in Northumberland, and I really enjoyed that,” recalls Kathryn.

“A few months ago they called up and said it’s going to be the anniversary of her classic novel ‘The Bell Jar’ and would I be interested in writing some songs.

“It was quite an open brief so I ended up making it about characters in The Bell Jar as I wasn’t going to use her words, so it was good to concentrate on the characters she’d written and why she’d used them in the book. By doing that I was able to write a bit more about her.

“I played six of those songs at Durham Book Festival after a reading by Andrew Wilson, who has just written a biography of her life before she met Ted Hughes called ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’, which is a really good book.

“I was quite nervous, but there were people crying in the audience, and the songs just buried themselves into people’s hearts. They’ve asked me to make a record so I will be making a pilgrimage up to her grave.”

Kathryn is on tour promoting her critically praised new record ‘Crown Electric’ and the first single ‘Heart Shaped Stone’ won her a place in celebrity gossip magazine ‘Heat’.

In a late addition to the festival programme, Patsy Matheson is supporting Kathryn Williams in the final session.

Patsy started as a solo singer songwriter, winning a young songwriters’ competition judged by Maddy Prior and Glenn Tilbrook. After several years as part of the female singing trio Waking the Witch, Patsy went solo again and her album ‘Stories of Guitars and Angels’ gained rave reviews across the music press. “Having seen her again recently at Whitby Musicport, I’m thrilled Patsy has joined the line up,” said organiser Dave Boardman.

The Folk Festival kicks off with live dervishes The Demon Barbers today and there will be a rare set from Jez Lowe and the Bad Pennies on Saturday before Kathryn Williams brings proceedings to a close on Sunday.

Full details of the line up and tickets are available from the Trades Club or the website: www.tradesclub.org.uk.