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You are in: Devon > People > Profiles > Jackie's Violet Hour

Jackie Oates

Jackie Oates

Jackie's Violet Hour

Folk singer Jackie Oates hopes to seal her place as a rising star of English traditional folk music with the release of her second album, The Violet Hour.

It looks like 2008 is going to be a good year for Exeter-based folk singer and fiddle player Jackie Oates.

Nominated for the Horizon award for best newcomer in the 2008 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Jackie is also about to release her second album, The Violet Hour.

She specialises in fiddle singing - putting her own interpretation to traditional English folk songs from the late 18th and early 19th century.

"Two songs on the album are contemporary," said Jackie. "Wishfullness Waltz was written by my brother Doug (Jim Moray) and Summer's End was written by a close friend Jim Causley.

The Violet Hour album cover

The Violet Hour album cover

"All the other songs are as traditional as they come. I sing them as they were sung originally but I've orchestrated them with my own arrangements.

"My parents have an extensive collection of folk songs that I rifle through when I can. I also go to libraries to search out old manuscripts.

"It's something I'm really passionate about, there's an unending supply of music to rediscover.

"I deliberately go for the songs that aren't widely known. The songs I sing tend to have very vivid storylines and some are quite dark.

"Some of them are quite gruesome, but they often have parallels to modern life."

The Violet Hour is a follow up to Jackie's self-titled debut album and the second release on the new Chudleigh Roots label.

Produced by Phil Beer of Exeter folk duo, Show of Hands, it features an array of guest musicians including Jim Causley, Tim Van Eyken, Jim Moray and Belinda O'Hooley.

Jackie developed a love of traditional folk music through her mother and father, who took her along to folk festivals from an early age. By the time she was seven, she was playing the violin and piano.

"Music has always been part of our daily lives, we were always singing or playing music," said Jackie.

"My parents were both morris dancers and my brother and I were brought up going to folk festivals and musical events.

"I can claim to have been to the Sidmouth Folk Festival for every year of my life."

Brought up in Cheshire, Jackie moved to Devon in 2001 to study English at Exeter University and she's stayed in the city ever since.

Jackie and her fiddle

Jackie took up the fiddle as a youngster

"I was going to do a music degree studying classical violin, but also got an offer to read English at Exeter. It was literally down to a toss of a coin.

"It wasn't until I came to Devon that I got hooked on the singing tradition.

"I got together with some student friends and we used to go to pub singarounds dotted around Dartmoor. It was here that I became fascinated by the stories behind the songs.

"At a singaround everyone takes a turn to sing a song unaccompanied. Initially I went to watch and then plucked up the courage to take part. Until then I had never sung in public."

Jackie's talent as a leading exponent of the English fiddle singing tradition was first recognised in 2003 when she was a finalist in the BBC Young Folk Awards.

She's now a seasoned performer - both as a solo artist and as a member of the trio Wistmans Wood, alongside fellow Devon musicians Steve Turner and Andy Clarke.

She has also toured with a number of other bands including Reg Meuross, Morris Offspring and Rachel Unthank and the Winterset.

When she's not performing, Jackie dedicates much of her time to folk organisations such as Wren Music and Folk South West, where she tutors young people in the art of folk singing and playing. She also conducts the children's choir at the Sidmouth Folk Festival.

The Violet Hour was released on 17 March 2008.

last updated: 10/04/2008 at 10:47
created: 31/01/2008

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