Women Of Steel Folk Show set to hit £150,000 statue appeal

Fay Hield and Martin Simpson, of supergroup The Full English, join other stars for the Women Of Steel Folk Show.
Fay Hield and Martin Simpson, of supergroup The Full English, join other stars for the Women Of Steel Folk Show.

Britain’s top folk stars are about to hit a final note for Sheffield’s Women of Steel with a star-studded ‘homecoming’ concert to smash the city’s £150,000 Statue Appeal, writes Graham Walker.

Martin Simpson, Fay Hield, John Tams and Barry Coope, Chris While and Julie Matthews, Roy Bailey, Ray Hearne and Nat Johnson and Friends are all appearing for free.

Most of them are from Sheffield and the region.

Taking place in Sheffield Cathedral - next Wednesday, November 26 - it is set to answer the prayers of the surviving Women Of Steel, who kept the city’s steel mills going during two world wars, now to be honoured with a statue outside the City Hall.

It follows a rock and pop concert a year ago, featuring home grown Tony Christie, Heaven 17, ABC’s Martin Fry, John Parr, Eliot Kennedy, John Shuttleworth, Jon McClure and John Reilly, which helped to raise £64,000 towards the appeal.

John Palmer, who co-organised that show with The Star’s Graham Walker and Sheffield Grammy award winning producer songwriter Eliot Kennedy, is organising The Women Of Steel Folk Show.

The singers and musicians taking part in the unique show have won 17 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards between them and been nominated for dozens more.

Fay Hield and Martin Simpson won the 2014 Best Group and Best Album Awards at the Royal Albert Hall ceremony earlier this year, with the supergroup, The Full English.

Fay, who also performs with her own group The Hurricane Party, was commissioned by the English Folk Dance and Song Society to form a band and create music based on thousands of original recordings of traditional songs made available on the internet for the first time.

John Tams is universally hailed as one of the country’s most influential singers, songwriters and programme makers. A member of the Albion Band and Home Service he also wrote the songs for the worldwide hit stage show War Horse.

He will be performing with long term associate Barry Coope of Coope, Boyes and Simpson, who are well known for In Flanders Field - songs, poems and music reflecting the Great War.

Chris While and Julie Matthews won the BBC Radio 2 Best Duo Folk Award in 2009 – and the evening will particularly poignant for Julie who wrote and sang a song for Dot Slingsby, one of the women at the head of the Statue appeal, for the Song of Steel radio programme.

Their new album, Who We Are, includes a track called Drop Hammer, written specially for the Women of Steel.

John said tickets are almost sold out for the show: “The Appeal has caught the city’s imagination and reawakened a spirit of community in people of all ages and backgrounds. As a result, we are expecting to reach the £150,000 target at the folk show.”

* Tickets limited are £18 each. Buy in person from the Cathedral Shop or online at www.sheffieldcathedral.org.