The Imagined Village

If you think you know about English folk music, think again. The Imagined Village, the brainchild of producer and musician Simon Emmerson, has recast age old traditions in the shape of the 21st Century. A daring mix of ancient and modern, The Imagined Village fuses fiddles and squeezebox with dub beats and sitars. To do so it has gathered an extraordinary array of talent: Martin Carthy, Eliza Carthy, Sheila Chandra, Billy Bragg, Paul Weller, Tunng, Transglobal Underground and Benjamin Zephaniah among others. Emmerson has a history of ground-breaking fusions, as founder of jazz-soul group Working Week and The Afro Celt Sound System, and as a Grammy-nominated producer of world acts like Manu Dibango and Baba Maal.

"After travelling the world I thought it was time to explore my own roots, to look at the earth under my feet." Simon Emmerson

The Imagined Village project grew out of a discussion prompted by the BBC Radio 3 documentary A Place Called England which addressed the blind spot amongst many of the English concerning their own musical heritage. The Imagined Village is also influenced by Georgina Boyes’ eponymous book that examined the pivotal impact the Edwardian song collectors, most notably Cecil Sharp, made on the development of an English folk music repertoire.

Billy Bragg, whose book The Progressive Patriot addresses the same issue of English identity, agrees. “In any village there’s a meeting between the custodians of the past and the architects of the future, and The Imagined Village reflects just that.”

Further reading

Society of Sound: WOMAD 2018

Within the eclectic musical landscape that already marks WOMAD out as a champion of music and cultur...

Real World music featured on BBC Two’s Africa with Ade Adepitan

Ade Adepitan embarks on a journey across Africa, soundtracked by music from Real World.

Entering the sonic world of The Gloaming 3

Music journalist Michael Hann takes a look at the process of creating The Gloaming 3

From Algiers to London: Abdel Ali Slimani gets an Invasion of the Heart

Abdel Ali Slimani shares the story of his music journey from Algeria to England.