The Singer’s the Thing: The Individual and Group Identity in a Pennine Singing Tradition

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A number of folk-song studies in recent years have argued the relative importance of the text and the context; far less attention has been paid to the performance, the performer, and the listener in folk-song tradition. This article brings fresh insight to the debate in the light of a young charismatic singer, Haydn Thorp (1976-1999), who during his short lifetime became emblematic of the invigorated local singing tradition in the district around Holmfirth in West Yorkshire. The potent combination fo youth and tradition, set within the wide political climate, bestowed a singular status on him. In practical terms, this gave the impetus for social evenings and singing competitions, as well as providing other young singers from his peer group with a paradigm. The 'Haydn Thorp' phenomenon illustrates the dynamics of an active singing tradition and its significance and symbolism for the community in which it thrives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-281
Number of pages16
JournalFolk Music Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • folklore

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