Minnie Birch … Huw Stephen’s Introducing Artist of the week and Buzzfeed’s “one to watch” is back with a new record – but it’s perhaps not like anything you were expecting.
This new record, which sees her mix her passion for folk music with football, asks the question “where else do people all sing on mass together, other than at worship or a folk club?” The answer is, at a football ground. Minnie started “collecting” and reworking songs that are inspired by football or can be heard sung on the terraces and presents them here in You’re Not Singing Anymore recorded by Nick Harris at Spare Room Recordings. The result is a Traditional Folk record like no other, which will have you both singing along and pausing to think as she weaves in audio recordings of people’s memories of the terraces. It’s an ode to the power of the beautiful game and its intrinsic relationship with music. It is both a folk record and a look at what it means to be a football supporter; and the social, historical and political messages behind the songs they sing on the terraces.
Minnie’s previous albums gained rave critical reviews and plays on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 music. She has spent the last five plus years touring her music all over the world and is excited to take this album across the UK in 2020.
Having dabbled in Sunday league football herself Minnie’s live performances come with many a tale of what it means to play, support and fall in love with your local football team.
To quote Minnie: “Football Chants are one of the lasting oral traditions of our time, they are sung by hundreds of thousands of people who do not consider themselves ‘folkies’ ‘musicians’ ‘historians’ ‘social commentators’ but this is exactly what I think these people are. They’re a bit like traditional folk musicians.
I have had some great conversations with people who insist that a chant belongs to their team, even though you can hear it sung with another team’s name at another ground. Good chants will often transfer along with the player – someone can be “Born to be Blue” one season and then “Born to be Red” another. It is hard to establish the origins of terrace songs. They’re a bit like traditional folk songs.
Football chants and terrace songs are designed to encourage your team on to a win, or discredit and distract the opposing team. Some of them are mean, angry, and offensive, some of them are encouraging, social commentary, heartfelt, proud – just like the people who sing them-they have their light and their dark. They’re a bit like traditional folk songs.
When I started “collecting” football songs it quickly grew and I wasn’t sure what to do with this collection. So, I decided to start at the only place that was logical to me, I took the terrace songs that were derived from traditional folk and I present them here merged and rearranged. I wanted to capture that feeling of being on the terraces so I collected some memories to weave in along the way. I wanted some recordings from the terraces, and I am so pleased to have been given permission to use one here and to have had the chance to record my own at a local ground.
I’ve included songs from two of my favourite modern folkies, Billy Bragg and Steve O’Donoghue, to show that a football themed song can be a springboard for a message that is poignant and powerful. Then I added my own original song because the singer-songwriter in me felt the record wasn’t complete without it.
I have loved working on this project and I really hope you enjoy the concept and the songs. There is something about familiar lyrics and melodies that feels like home, and when a gathering of people all start singing something you instantly recognise then that feels really magical to me.”
Minnie has toured relentlessly with stints all over the U.K, Europe, Iceland and America – including slots at the Edinburgh Fringe, supporting Joan Armatrading and at festivals such as Standon Calling and The Great Escape and is also part of folk ‘Super Group’ The Company Of Players who released their debut Album in January 2018 with two sell out nights at the Maltings Arts Theatre and was named as one of the Sunday Times top 100 albums. She is also a third of award-winning folk trio Said The Maiden. Minnie is also currently working as a Musician in Residence in a male prison, using music to help people develop their confidence, team work ethic and find ways of expressing themselves.
Artist’s website: www.minniebirch.co.uk
‘God’s Footballer’ – official video: