Norma Waterson formed The Watersons in the early 60s with her sister Lal, brother Mike and cousin John. They went on to become the most influential vocal harmony group of the times, and achieved near cult status when they stopped touring in the late 60s.
Both sides of Norma’s family were musical and almost all of her extended family were accomplished musicians. Partly of Irish gipsy descent, like thousands of others they came to folk song through an early interest in jazz and skiffle. They formed a group called The Mariners and, as their style became progressively less ‘pop’ and more serious, they decided to start a folk club calling themselves The Folksons before finally using their family name. Their abiding interest was in the songs and customs of their native East Yorkshire.
In the early 1990s, Norma joined forces with Martin Carthy and their daughter, Eliza and began touring, first of all as the Carthy Family and then as Waterson:Carthy. The first CD Waterson:Carthy came out in 1994 and Common Tongue followed in 1996. In the same year, Norma released the solo album Norma Waterson with a backing band including Martin and Eliza Carthy. This album finished a close second to Pulp for the Mercury Music Prize.