Bewdley Festival begins almost three weeks before its official opening night with a very special prelude evening.
English folk legend SHIRLEY COLLINS presents a rare performance of her “almost” one-woman show “America Over The Water” . Shirley is now 83, and the musical historical importance of this show cannot be overstated.
The Festival is indebted to the late Alan James for organising the opportunity for this show to be presented in the West Midlands for the very first time.
In 1959 a young Shirley joined musicologist Alan Lomax on a year-long journey through the musical heartland of the Southern States of America.
During this field trip they recorded the music of religious communities, social gatherings, prisons and chain gangs, and discovered the legendary bluesman Mississippi Fred McDowell. Much of the music they uncovered was featured in the Coen brothers film Oh Brother, Where Art Thou.
Shirley's book "America Over The Water" recounts this journey, intercutting and complementing the American narrative with an emotional autobiographical account of growing up in Hastings during and after the war, and of her first meeting with Alan Lomax in London.
The show of the same name includes readings by Shirley, contributions from actor Pip Barnes, pictures of the singers taken on the journey and recordings made on the trip.