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

Live: Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali UK Tour

The Pakistan-based Qawwali group returned to the UK for their first tour since 2017.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan at WOMAD 1985: Were you there?

Nusrat's concert at the festival in 1985 was the first in front of a primarily non-Asian audience

Track of the Day: ‘Meáchan Rudaí’ by The Gloaming

The Gloaming's third album opens with a song based on a poem of the same name by Liam Ó Muirthile.

République Amazone: Track by Track

Exploring the lyrics of songs from the debut album by Les Amazones d'Afrique