Belinda Kempster and Fran Foote

14 November 2019

Belinda Kempster & Fran Foote

Belinda and Fran are a mother and daughter from Essex, sharing songs and singing together. This is what they say about themselves:

Belinda began singing traditional songs in the 60s and has always preferred English country songs. Our family has a history of farming and working on the land, these songs come from the work and recreation of that way of life.

Belinda and her husband John met in a folk club and Fran grew up immersed in the local folk scene, learning songs from her parents from a very young age.

‘Uncle’ Ernie Austin was an agricultural engineer from north Essex. He lived and worked in a small village (Bentley) just outside Colchester and sang songs related to his work and recreation. Stuff you’d sing down the pub. He was recorded by Topic records in 1973 and appeared on their release ‘Flash Company’ in 1974.

‘Ernest Austin is now 83 years of age and he lives in a small village to the east of Colchester in Essex. He left school at 12 to work as a kitchen boy in a farmhouse, earning 3/6d in return for a 60-hour week. For most of his early life he worked on the land as a farm labourer until, with experience, he became an agricultural engineer, retiring at the age of 70.’

We are recording a collection of Ernie’s songs from ‘Flash Company’, those taught to Belinda by Ernie and from private family recordings. Also included are personal favourites from Belinda’s repertoire. We want our family’s music to be documented, without frills or fuss.

Families singing together is special and so are these songs and we don’t want them to be lost. Traditional music represents the history, traditions and thoughts of a community. This is the tradition of our family and singing these songs together feels like coming home.

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