Celebrating Leon

Some of the leading figures on the British folk scene will take part in an international online celebration of the music of Leon Rosselson (pictured above). Martin Carthy, Billy Bragg, Nancy Kerr, Martin Simpson and Sandra Kerr – as well as Leon, himself – are among the many artists who will celebrating Leon’s life and work over six decades, creating a sound track for unsung heroes and unspeakable scoundrels.

This online event, Turning Silence into Song: The Music of Leon Rosselson,  will provide an opportunity to revisit his classic songs or be introduced to one you never heard before.

Each of the following artists will perform one song written by Leon Rosselson:

  • Frankie Armstrong (UK)
  • Billy Bragg (UK)
  • Rick Burkhardt (US)
  • Martin Carthy (UK)
  • Russ Chandler (UK)
  • Barbara Dane (US)
  • Chris Foster (Iceland)
  • Robb Johnson (UK)
  • Reem Kelan (UK)
  • Nancy Kerr (UK)
  • Sandra Kerr (UK)
  • Charlie King (US)
  • Leon Rosselson (UK)
  • Martin Simpson (UK)
  • Dean Stevens (US)
  • Elijah Wald (US)

This live Zoom concert, sponsored by The People’s Music Network, is totally free to the public. Donations to support PMN’s year round work of presenting workshops, conferences, and songswaps are gratefully accepted.

Members of the People’s Music Network may register for free. Non-members will receive the Zoom meeting links as soon as they register after any contribution to People’s Music Network of $2 or more.

Registration will not be required to tune in to the free livestream on the People’s Music Network Youtube page. But those who register will receive an automatic reminder about the show with the option to tune in via Zoom.

In the early days of the folk revival, Leon Rosselson was a member of the Galliards with whom he made numerous radio and television broadcasts and concert appearances. He started writing songs seriously (and humorously) in the early 1960s and hasn’t stopped since.

His early songs were topical-satirical (some of them were featured on the BBC TV show, That Was The Week That Was) but he broadened out from there, absorbing different influences, from music hall to French realist song, and experimenting with different song forms.

His song, The World Turned Upside Down, has been recorded and popularised by, among others, Dick Gaughan and Billy Bragg (who took it into the pop charts in 1985) and has been sung on numerous demonstrations in Britain and the USA.

His Ballad of a Spycatcher, ridiculing the ban on Peter Wright’s book, went into the Indie Singles charts in 1987 in a version backed by Billy Bragg and the Oyster Band.

Rosselson has performed in every conceivable venue around the country and toured North America, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland and Australia. He has written songs and scripts for Inter-Action’s Dogg’s Troupe and the Fun Art Bus, songs for a stage production at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, of They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? and shows for performance with Roy Bailey and Frankie Armstrong, including the anti-nuclear No Cause for Alarm.
In addition to writing songs for children and giving children’s concerts in both Britain and the USA, he has had seventeen children’s books published. His first book, Rosa’s Singing Grandfather, published by Puffin, was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal in 1991.
A stage show based on his children’s story, The Greatest Drummer In The World, was premiered in London in December 2002. His latest books are Pumpkin’s Downfall and Home Is A Place Called Nowhere. 
Martin Carthy
Sandra Kerr
Billy Bragg
Nancy Kerr
Martin Simpson
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