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The Bees Knees » HELEN WATSON: Biography

HELEN WATSON: Biography

hw-2.jpgHelen Watson is a unique performer whose matured voice and idiosyncratic songs are a welcome change in the world of singer-songwriters. Her magical music crosses the boundaries between blues, soul, jazz and folk.

Helen began performing on the folk-club circuit during the late ‘sixties. She was one half of a soul duo; a singer with the renowned blues band LOOSE LIPS; a member of the Manchester quartet WELL KNIT FRAMES; and was a backing singer with CARMEL on an extensive world tour. Helen’s unique style earned her an enviable reputation and much session work, which in the early 80’s led to an interest in her songwriting and a subsequent recording contract with EMI. Helen’s first album Blue Slipper was produced in Los Angeles by the legendary Glyn Johns; musicians included Albert Lee, Little Feat and Bernie Leadon. Helen toured Europe with Joe Cocker. Her second EMI album – The Weather Inside was also produced by Glyn Johns and featured a powerful duet with Andy Fairweather-Low on Hanging Out The Washing.


In the early 1990’s Helen was a member of the acclaimed vocal ensemble HELL BENT HEAVEN BOUND with Christine Collister, Barb Jungr and Michael Parker. They toured Europe, America and Canada. Helen soon formed her own band and the female supergroup DAPHNE’S FLIGHT – with Christine Collister, Melanie Harrold, Julie Matthews and Chris While. This later ensemble released their powerful eponymous album in 1995.
1995 also saw the release of Notes On Desire the magnificent debut from the Helen Watson Band. During the latter part of the ‘nineties Helen co-produced CHRISTINE COLLISTER’s Blue Aconite, and began recording her own beautifully stunning trilogy of albums for the Fledg’ling label – Somersault (1996), Doffing (1999) and Lifesize (2002).

Somersault – a stunning collection of Helen’s original songs – was co-produced by fellow Daphne’s Flight member Julie Matthews, with guest appearances from Chris While, Howard Lees, Christine Collister, Chris Leslie and Julie Matthews.

helen-jag.jpgDoffing is a beautiful tip of the hat to some of Helen’s favourite songs and songwriters. Among the extraordinary range of material are sublime readings of Bruce Springsteen’s Ain’t Got You, Robert Parker Jnr.’s Barefootin, Junior Parker’s Mystery Train and Billy Strayhorn’s Lush Life.

Helen’s latest solo album Lifesize is possibly her finest recording yet – the very best acoustic folk-soul from Britain. The album is a stunning collection of Helen’s magically understated songs – beguiling songs of hope, intriguing songs of love lost and new love found, and exquisite pastoral vignettes – all focussed around that glorious acclaimed. Guests on the album include longtime cohorts – Howard Lees, Julie Matthews, Chris While and Kellie While.

Helen continues to contribute to albums by Christine Collister, Julie Matthews and Chris While. Her vocals can also be heard on the latest duet album Western Wall from EMMYLOU HARRIS and LINDA RONSTADT. 2002 saw Helen contribute to both ASHLEY HUTCHINGS’ Street Cries and Shining Bright – the LAL and MIKE WATERSON tribute collection. On the latter Helen and Heather Greenbank perform a stunning ready of Lal’s Shine accompanied by a string quintet conducted by the legendary ROBERT KIRBY (Nick Drake). In 2003 Helen and Heather recorded a splendid reading of Blind Willie Johnson’s Tear This Building Down for Dark Was The Night – a charity collection on our sister Deep Sea label.

2006 saw Helen begin gigging with the splendid Burden of Paradise ensemble and an expanded edition of her 1987 album Blue Slipper with four rare bonus tracks.


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