Sara Grey

Once you have heard Sara Grey you will never forget her. She has a certain quality of voice that compels you to give her your undivided attention. Her voice is both powerful and sweet with a distinctive and lovely tremolo. It is a voice well suited to ballads and song that have travelled across the Atlantic to North America. 

One of the best things about her singing is that it reflects her great knowledge of and feeling for traditional singing. She just seems to know what is right in the interpretation of a traditional song. She is a singer of great strength with a fine understanding of the importance of understatement in the art of ballad singing. The breadth of her repertoire of songs is enormous.

It is not Sara's lovely voice alone that makes her one of the most popular singers on the folk scene, on many of her songs Sara accompanies herself by frailing a five string banjo and, when playing tunes, it is obvious why she is regarded as one of the foremost exponents of the old-time style. As well as singing and playing superbly Sara is a fine story teller specialising in stories from northern New England where she grew up and learned many of her stories from her dad.

Sara grew up in New Hampshire but has lived in Scotland and England for 46 years. As a youngster in North Carolina she first heard a lot of mountain music and her love for the old time banjo music and songs developed from this experience. She has carried this interest into her adult life studying folklore and collecting and performing music from the various areas in which she has lived. Before she moved to Scotland, Sara was part of "The Golden Ring" with people like Ed Trickett and Gordon Bok. They were a well-known group of singers interested in traditional song.

Now, after many years of singing and playing her banjo in public, Sara's repertoire is as fresh and relevant as ever. She has been concentrating for the last several years on tracing the migration for songs from the British Isles to North America. Sara lives for her music and works at her trade with the result that her music is not only technically excellent but also filled with her warmth and spirit.  

Sara's interest in the musical traditions of America led her to form the Lost Nation Band. For anyone interested in the traditions of old-time American songs, tunes and ballads, the combined forces of Sara Grey, Dave Burland and Roger Wilson presented a lively and sensitive interpretation of the music. 

Sara has sung at most every folk club and arts centre in England, Scotland and Wales and has performed at over 60 different folk and bluegrass festivals.

Now Sara mostly plays and tours with her son, Kieron Means, who is a remarkable singer and guitar player and is passionate in his desire to carry on the presentation of old songs and tunes. When possible they both perform with Ben Paley, one of the finest exponents of old-time fiddle on either side of the Atlantic.

Sara has featured in a book by Fiona Ritchie & Doug Orr, “Wayfaring Strangers - The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia”. In an email from Fiona Ritchie to Sara, Fiona said "As you reflect upon your life's work I want you to know you are an important part of this book. There are three transcribed excerpts from our radio interview on the subject, you are profiled as one of our "Voices of Tradition" as a "specialist in transatlantic song connections from year of research and collecting", and you are also included on the wonderful 20 track CD, singing "Black is the Color". Recordings by you and Kieron are included in the Discography of fifty recommended albums. So this book has real benefited from your input Sara, along with other "Voices" such as Pete Seeger, Jean Ritchie, Doc Watson, Jean Redpath, John Cohen, John Purser, Archie Fisher, Cara Dillon, Len Graham, Sheila Kay Adams and other musicians you will know.”

Sara’s love affair with traditional songs for over 60 years has given her an incomparable knowledge of songs and ballads and how they have moved and evolved. She wants to gather the songs and pass them on to future generations so that they will have the pleasure of hearing and singing them just as she has. Her career is not about herself, it has been about the songs, about sharing them with others and ensuring that they go on living in our traditions.

"… Sara has gained a reputation not only for her excellent singing and playing … but also for the sheer warmth and enthusiasm that she radiates to her audience …" - Brighton’s "Friday Folk” 
"… everything she does is characterised by freshness and enthusiasm … You couldn’t hear half a dozen bars and think it was somebody else … She is one of the select band of performers that still breathe life and vitality into traditional ballads …" - Vic Smith, fRoots
"… There are certain singers who have been involved with traditional music over many years – Ray Fisher and Sara Grey also spring to mind – for whom the arts of a singer and of a story teller merge to produce a web of tales and songs capable of transporting an audience from a club room to the intimacy of a kitchen fire side." -
Brian Peters, fRoots
“… singing by turns restrained, triumphant, gentle, strong, fun and deeply emotional, but always with that beautiful rhythmic vitality that is Sara’s voice." - Molly Nudds, Prittle Prattle
"… An evening in her company is akin to sitting in a friend’s kitchen, drinking her wine and sharing her songs and stories. When it comes to an end, you feel at peace with the world." - Mick Tems, Taplas 
"… New Englander, Sara Grey, stole the show at one of the major concerts…" - Norman Chalmers, Scotland On Sunday

Sara’s Recordings On Harbourtown Records

  HARCD 011

"Promises to Keep"

Tracks: I Love You Well / Lakes of Champlain / La Belle Riviere / Sweet William's Ghost / Jenny's Gone to Ohio - Cider Mill / Oh Death / Dry Stone Walls / Lady of Carlisle / Mervin Barr / The Sky / Going Away / Sunrise / Nice Like That.

There are certain singers who have been involved with traditional music over many years for whom the arts of a singer and a story teller merge to produce a web of tales and songs capable of transporting an audience from a club room to the intimacy of a kitchen fireside - Sara Grey is one of these singers. She is also a leading exponent of old time banjo tunes and styles. 

"Twenty years into her career as a recording artist and Sara Grey comes up with her best album!”

  HARCD 028


Tracks: Prodigal Son / State of Arkansas / Banks of Kilrea / Unfortunate Rake / As I roved Out / Miss Julia / The Day I Fought Dwyer / The Kissing Song / Sweet William / My God He is a Rock ; Betsy Liken - Sadie at the Back door / Lady Gay / Johnny Barden / Going to Leave This Country / High Toned Dance / The Milliner's Daughter / Last Winter Was a Hard One / Across the Bridge.

A wonderful follow-up to Sara Grey's debut Harbourtown album. A collection of powerful traditional songs, including big ballads treated with the utmost respect. Any lover of traditional song will want this album in their collection.

Other Recordings By Sara:
"Sara Grey with Ed Trickett” - Folk-Legacy CD38

"Five Days Singing Vol. 1" as part of The Golden Ring - Folk-Legacy CD41
"Five Days Singing Vol. 2" as part of The Golden Ring - Folk-Legacy CD42

"A Breath of Fresh Air" With Ellie Ellis - Fellside FE031
"Making the Air Resound" With Ellie Ellis - Fellside FE039
"You Gave Me A Song" With Ellie Ellis - Greenwich Village GVR 231
"Back In The Airly Days” - Waterbug
"Boy She’s a Daisy” - Living Tradition LTCD1301
”A Long Way From Home - Fellside FECD196
"Sandy Boys” - Fellside FECD225
“Down in Old Dolores”  Fellside FECD259


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