Exercise 1 – Part 1

A. Listen to Part 1 of the interview. What is her overwhelming memory of her childhood?

B. Now listen again. What does she say about…?

1   her father in the 50s and 60s

2   The Watersons

3   her mother’s grandmother

4   her mother’s uncle and father

5   The Spinning Wheel

6   the farm where she was brought up

7   her parents’ friends



Eliza’s overwhelming memory of her childhood is of being with her family on the farm surrounded by traveling musicians, listening to music, singing, and playing.


1   He started playing the guitar in the 50s. In the 60s he helped to create the folk music scene in London. He was friends with Bob Dylan and Paul Simon.

2   The Watersons are a folk group from her mother’s side of the family. They are from Hull. They were important in the 60s folk revival and in the development of folk clubs in the north of England.

 Her mother’s grandmother brought her mother up as her parents had died.

 Her mother’s uncle played the trumpet. Her mother’s father played the banjo. He used to listen to music on the radio and learn the songs he heard.

 Her grandmother used to sing The Spinning Wheel when Eliza was young.

 The farm had three houses in a row—one for Eliza and her parents, one for her mother’s brother and his family, and one for her mother’s sister and her family. They kept a lot of animals. There was always singing and music being played at the farm.

7   Her parents’ friends were touring musicians who often stayed on the farm.


I = interviewer, E = Eliza Carthy

Interview with a folk musician—Part 1

I   Eliza Carthy, could you tell us a bit about your family background, your parents and grandparents?

E   Um, I come from a musical family; my parents are folk singers, my father is a guitarist who is known for playing the guitar, um, and inventing a particular style of English folk guitar. Um, he started playing when he was 17, back in the 50s, and, um, really was, was quite instrumental in his youth in sort of building the the 60s folk club scene in London. He was a friend of Bob Dylan and Paul Simon many, many years ago, and um is known for reconstructing old traditional ballads, traditional English ballads. My mother comes from a folk-singing family called The Watersons, and they were from the north of England, they’re from Hull, which is in the north of England, and they were also instrumental in the beginning of the 60s folk revival, the formation of the folk clubs, and the, the beginning of, basically, the professional music scene that I work on now.

I   And were your parents both from musical families?

E   Um, really both sides of my family are musical: my my mother’s side of the family were all travelers and gypsies, my, uh, her grandmother, she was brought up by her grandmother, both of her parents died when she was very young. She had an uncle that played the trumpet, you know, her father played the banjo, he used to listen to American radio during the Second World War and he used to learn the songs off the radio like that. Her grandmother was very into the sort of old romantic ballads like The Spinning Wheel and things like that, and she used to, she used to sing when they were little; the whole family sang, the whole family danced. And I was brought up in that kind of a family: my mother and her, her brother and her sister were in a singing group, my dad joined that singing group, and then, when I was old enough, I joined the family as well.

 So you had a very musical upbringing?

E   My upbringing was, I suppose some people might think it was quite a hippy upbringing. I was brought up on a farm, um, that had three houses in a row, with me and my mum and dad in the end house, my uncle—my mum’s brother—and his wife and their four children in the middle house, and then my mum’s sister and her husband and their two children on the other end house. And we grew up basically self-sufficient, we had animals and we had chickens and goats and pigs and horses and things like that, and we, we grew up singing together and living together in that environment in North Yorkshire in the 1970s. Because my parents were professional musicians and touring musicians, we had a lot of touring musician friends who would come and stay at the farm and they would sing and play all the time and there was music all around when I was a child, and that really formed the basis of, of how I live now.

Part 2

A. Now listen to Part 2. What do you think Eliza Carthy was like as a child? What do you find out about her as a mother?

B. Listen again and answer the questions.

1   Did Eliza Carthy originally want to become a musician?

2   Why did her mother retire?

3   How old was she at her first public performance?

4   How much did she sing during the concert?

5   How has she reorganized her life because of having her own children?

6   What does she feel she’s lacking right now?



Eliza Carthy was probably quite an independent and confident child.

As a mother she focuses on her children and organizes her work around them.


 No, she wanted to be a writer.

 To bring Eliza up, and because she didn’t want her to grow up touring and traveling.


 She sang all the songs.

 She now tries to only work on weekends and during school holidays / vacations, so that she can take care of her children during the week.

6   Sleep


Interview with a folk musician—Part 2

 Do you think it was inevitable that you’d become a professional musician?

E   Well, if you were ever to ask any of us, were it—we would definitely have all said no. I wanted to be, I wanted to be a writer; my mum certainly didn’t want me to go on the road. My mum retired in 1966 …65…66 from professional touring to raise me—I mean the road is a difficult place, whether you’re traveling with your family or with a band or on your own, and she certainly didn’t want that for me. My dad also probably never thought that I would do it, but I ended up following, exactly following his footsteps and quitting school when I was 17 and going on the road, and I’ve been on the road ever since.

 Can you tell us about your first public performance?

E   My dad says that my first public performance was at the Fylde Folk Music Festival in Fleetwood in Lancashire when I was six, and we were at the Marine Hall and they were singing, The Watersons, the family, the family group were singing, and I asked if I could, I asked if I could go up on stage with them, and I was six. And Dad said, “Well, you know, you probably don’t know everything, so just stand next to me on stage and we’ll start singing and if you, if you know the song, just pull on my leg and I’ll lift you up to the microphone and you can, you can join in.” God, I must have been awful! But yes, apparently I just…the first song they started up singing, I tugged on his leg, and he picked me up and he held me to the microphone and I sang that, and he was like, “Did you enjoy that?” “Yes, I did!” Put me down again and they started singing the next one, tugged on his leg, same thing! And he just ended up doing the whole concert with me sitting on his hip! Which er… now I have a six-year-old and I know how heavy she is and it must have been quite difficult, God bless him!

 Has having children yourself changed your approach to your career?

E   Uh, yes, in a way. Yes, in a way it has. I’ve just reordered my working year because my eldest daughter has just started school, so I, you know, I’m, I’m not free to to take the children with me on the road anymore and and I’m now bound by the school terms. So I try to work only on the weekends and in school holidays now and I try to to be Mummy from Monday to Friday, taking them to school, bringing them back again. I’m not getting a great deal of sleep, but then I don’t know many mothers of six- and four-year-olds that are getting a great deal of sleep!

Part 3

A. Now listen to Part 3. How has Eliza Carthy’s family influenced her approach to music?

B. Listen again. Mark the sentences T (true) or F (false). Correct the false sentences.

1   Eliza Carthy thinks the reason she doesn’t like working alone is because of being brought up surrounded by people.

2   Right now she has a 30-piece band.

3   Her father understands that working with family members is different.

4   Her father was a blood relation in the group. The Watersons.

5   Eliza Carthy’s daughter Florence plays three musical instruments and also sings well.

6   She thinks there’s a close link between foreign languages and singing.

7   Her younger daughter Isabella is not yet interested in music.

8   She would rather her children didn’t become touring musicians.



When she was growing up, there were always a lot of musicians around, so now she doesn’t like working alone.


1   T

2   F (She has a 13-piece band.)

3   T

4   F (The Watersons were her mother’s relatives.)

5   F (She plays two musical instruments—the violin and the guitar.)

6   T

7   F (She is showing an interest.)

8   T


Interview with a folk musician—Part 3

I   You do a lot of collaborations with other musicians. What is it that appeals to you about working like that?

E   I like working with other—I don’t like working alone. I don’t know if that’s because I don’t trust myself or I just don’t like being alone; I like being surrounded by a big crowd of people. I suppose that’s that’s partly to do with my upbringing, there was always so many people around, that um, I I’m at my best, I’m at my best in a, in a large event where loads of people are running around doing things and we’re all sort of collaborating with each other and there’s lots of ideas and everyone’s having, you know, a creative time, and that’s how I feel—yeah, that’s how I feel I, I work best, and that’s why at the moment I have a 13-piece band and it’s just heaven for me being with so many people and just feeling like a part of a big machine, I love that.

I   Is there a difference between playing with your family and playing with other people?

E   Um, yes, very much so. I’m not sure if I could tell you how different or why it’s different. My dad is very eloquent on how and why it’s different and he he knows that uniquely because he joined The Watersons, and The Watersons was a brother and two sisters, and he joined that, and of course he was married to my mum, but he wasn’t related to her. And and there is this thing within family groups, this blood harmony thing, this intuition, you have similar sounding voices, you know where a relative is going to go, and that may be because you know each other so well, but it also may be whatever it is that binds a family together anyway.

I   Would you like your children to follow in your footsteps?

E   I get very, very excited when the children, um when the children love music, I get very excited. My daughter Florence is very, very sharp, she listens and she can already—she plays Twinkle-Twinkle on the violin, plucking like that, and on the guitar as well, and she’s—yeah, she has a very, very good sense of rhythm. And she loves foreign languages as well, there’s a real, um there’s a real sort of correlation there between between language and singing, she has great pitch, she is able to learn songs and things very, very quickly, and I love that. And Isabella, my youngest as well, she’s really, she’s really showing interest in it—I love it when they do that. As to whether or not I’d want them to be touring musicians, I think I’m probably of the same opinion as my mother, which is, “No, not really!” But you know, I I think the—I think the world is changing anyway, I don’t know how many touring musicians there are going to be in the world in 20 years when they’re ready, I don’t know.

Exercise 2

A. Listen to five people talking about their family trees. Who mentions foreign ancestors? Where were they from?

B. Listen again. Who (S, K, A, M, or H) …?

___ has an ancestor who died in a famous disaster

___ has a family member who was adopted

___ has tried unsuccessfully to contact some distant relatives

___ has used ancestry.com to research their family tree

___ thinks their ancestors worked on the land



Kent, Marylin, and Hannah mention foreign ancestors.

Kent — Sweden, England

Marylin — Luxemburg

Hannah — Russia


Alison has an ancestor who died in a famous disaster.

Sarah has a family member who was adopted.

Marylin has tried unsuccessfully to contact some distant relatives.

Hannah has used ancestry.com to research their family tree.

Kent thinks their ancestors worked on the land.


I = Interviewer, S = Sarah, K = Kent, A = Alison, M = Marylin, H = Hannah


I   How much do you know about your family tree?

S   Uh, I actually know quite a bit about my family tree on my dad’s side. I don’t know very much about my mom’s side.

I   Have you ever researched it?

S   Yeah, um, my dad actually has done a lot of research, uh, and he can trace us all the way back to The Mayflower.

I   Is there anyone in your family that you’d like to know more about?

S   I would like to know more about my mom’s side. Her father was adopted, so we don’t, there’s a lot we don’t know.


 How much do you know about your family tree?

K   I know a fair about—amount about my family tree. Um, I know we come back from ancestors in Sweden and, uh, England, and I know we’ve traced it back I think to, to the 1500s for some of the lines.

I   Have you ever researched it?

K   Um, you know, I haven’t personally done a lot of research about my ancestors. I know we have the books and we have the stories and the journals and it’s all there, so I guess I, I, I’d be interested to know a little bit about, uh, what my my ancestors did, er, before they came to America. Um, ’cause I think they were farmers, I’m not entirely sure.


 How much do you know about your family tree?

A   Um, I know a little bit because, um, my dad’s done some research into his side of the family. Um, we know that my father’s side stretches back to the 1700s in Cornwall. Um, my great-great grandfather went down on the Titanic. Interesting piece of family history. Um, and we’ve got some family artefacts for that.

I   Is there anyone in your family that you’d like to know more about?

A   Um, probably the wife of the man who went down with the Titanic. I think she had quite an interesting and quite difficult life. Um, she had a baby, uh, brought it up by herself, so sounds like a, an amazing woman.


I   How much do you know about your family tree?

M   Um, I know quite a lot because a relative of my father’s, um, did some research on our family tree, oh about 20 years ago. So, well,

I   know that my father’s family, um, is from Luxembourg and in fact when I worked there I tried to get in touch with some distant relatives, but they weren’t interested.

I   Is there anyone in your family that you’d like to know more about?

M   Um, well, guess what, it’s precisely those relatives who are still living in Luxembourg. But what can I do, if they didn’t want to meet me, oh well, I guess it’s just destiny.


I   How much do you know about your family tree?

H   You know, I, I know a little bit about my family tree because I was lucky enough to grow up with having great-grandparents in my life until about, like, ninth grade, so I know a lot from them and they told me a lot of stories about their parents and grandparents, but it doesn’t go much further than that and that’s only on my dad’s side. I know about, um, immigration from Russia but that’s all I know and then my mom’s side I really don’t know a lot about, but it’s something that I’m interested in looking into.

I   Have you ever researched it?

H   I’ve tried to research it a little bit, uh, like doing the ancestry dot com thing, but um I haven’t really gotten much further than that.

I   Is there anyone in your family that you’d like to know more about?

H   I’d love to know more about my great-grandmother’s grandmother. So I guess that would be my great, great, great grandmother.

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