A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

music
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

MIM AND JOHN ERASMUS (article first published : 2008-01-3)

Iconic heroine of the UK’s folk-revivalist movement, Miriam Backhouse (known here in South Africa as Mim Erasmus), has been confirmed as the featured artist for next year’s Splashy Fen Music Festival in Underberg, KZN from March 20 to 24.

This special appearance marks the return of a revered figure who for three decades in South Africa has kept virtually secret the prowess of her near-legendary solo persona.

First heard in 1973 on a radio programme broadcast from England’s industrial hub of Sheffield, Miriam had within four years of dedicated, relentless touring become a draw-card of every major folk club and gathering across the land, including Edinburgh and the even more sought-after Cambridge Folk Festival. The reputation garnered from these appearances led to a recording contract and the release in 1977 of her debut album Gypsy without a Road which quickly sold out and, having never been re-pressed, has ever since fetched as much as £200 at record fairs in the UK.

Miriam experienced yet more pivotal events in 1977 – meeting and marrying South African multi-keyboard player John Erasmus and deciding to relocate to this country to start a family. While at that point the Miriam Backhouse likened to Joan Baez and ranked alongside Maddy Prior may have been ‘put on the shelf’, the new Mrs Miriam Erasmus soon immersed herself in a host of varied musical ventures with distinctly local flavours. These have ranged from training young voices alongside the late Eve Boswell and starring in stage productions to re-found the Durban Folk Club and 20 years of gigging festivals, nightspots, fashion shows, charity events and schools with her husband as Mim and John, playing whatever genre of music was demanded by the occasion.

Miriam acquired her “African Rose” tag in the mid-nineties when she recorded an album by that name but was forced to self-release it without the assistance of any established distribution network. She currently has another collection of folk-nuggets and self-penned songs ‘in the can’ awaiting a particular major record label’s next move. On the more positive side, a crowd favourite Over Africa is featured on the Splashy Fen 10 Years compilation and her ultra-rare first album has finally been given a CD-release (www.motherearthmusic.co.uk).

The latter has opened doors to a whole new audience for Miriam’s talent and spurred her into a buzz of activity – an ecstatically received and sold-out UK 2007 tour plus already-secured return bookings covering the next three years. For the Cambridge Folk Festival organisers to declare that “We’ve missed our First Lady of Folk” is no small accolade!

Splashy Fen 2008 and the reinvention for local fans of Miriam Backhouse will prove to be a magical airing of timeless and always relevant British and American classics, as well as songs fuelled by Miriam’s own experiences and observations of life in South Africa. The levels of enthusiasm and inspiration that festival-goers can expect from this “true minstrel” (as Woodies Folk Club in Sussex calls her) can be summed up in Miriam’s reaction to being offered the featured artist billing:

“I turn 60 next year, and in UK folk circles when someone such as Ralph McTell reaches that age they’re given a concert at the Royal Albert Hall…for me to have the featured artist honour at Splashy Fen is just as rewarding!”

Past Splashy Fen honourees include Tony Cox, Fiona Tozer, the late Richard Walne, Nibs van der Spuy and Syd Kitchen.

For more on Splashy Fen 2008 visit www.splashyfen.co.za




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart