ANASTASIA TSIOULCAS | September 11, 2015
English vocalist Sam Lee has an amazing backstory: He found his way to singing professionally after stints as a naturalist and a burlesque dancer. But what really matters are his mesmerizing performances, as well as his incredible ability to connect with people — certainly with the audience in front of him, but also with the elders he’s sought out to learn these songs.
Lee has dedicated himself to preserving centuries-old folk songs of the U.K. and Ireland, particularly from “outsider” communities like the Roma (Gypsies) and the Scottish and Irish Travelers. But he and his bandmates — ukulele player and vocalist Jon Whitten, violinist and vocalist Flora Curzon, and percussionist and vocalist Josh Green — put these ancient songs in thoroughly 21st-century arrangements that feel creative, fresh and surprising, but also deeply human.
Above it all, Lee’s voice blazes through with strength, clarity and confidence. This is an artist who has found his destiny as a singer, a folk-song collector and a steward of stories, keeping them alive and relevant for a new generation.
“Over Yonders Hill”
“Goodbye My Darling'”
Producers: Anastasia Tsioulcas, Morgan Walker; Audio Engineer: Suraya Mohamed, Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Walker, Lani Milton; Assistant Producer: Elena Saavedra Buckley; photo by Lydia Thompson/NPR