I am delighted to have been given the Gold Badge Award by the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS). The presentation of this award will be made sometime during the conference on traditional song at Cecil Sharp House, London, 10th & 11th November 2018. The citation will be given by Martin and Sian Graebe, taking account of both my being a singer of traditional British song since the 60’s and the development of the Voice workshops since the 70’s.”
I hope you find something here to interest you.
I imagine that you’re someone interested in voice and singing – this is my passion. Maybe I’ll hear from you or see you at a concert or workshop.
I’ve been singing professionally since 1964 and more recently (1975) began teaching voice and singing through developing a variety of voice and singing workshops. I am an initiating member of the Natural Voice Practitioners Network which grew out of the Voice Teacher training courses that I have run in the UK since 1988.
My journey with the voice began with the skiffle boom in 1957, moving through the British folk song revival of the early 1960s, and having the good fortune to study, perform and record with leading figures of the folk revival such as Louis Killen, Ewan MacColl and Bert Lloyd. With Peggy Seeger and Sandra Kerr, I researched and developedThe Female Frolic (1966) for live performance and a recording, which began my particular interest in women’s lives as illuminated through song. Since 1962, I’ve built up a repertoire of British songs and ballads, which, along with contemporary British songs, still form the basis of my musical vocabulary. My repertoire consists of rural, industrial, music hall and contemporary songs – my own and those of other songwriters such as Sandra Kerr, Leon Rosselson and Bertolt Brecht. I find the song form extraordinary, despite its brevity, as a way of expressing the widest and deepest range of human emotions.
In 2017 I was made President of the Natural Voice Network.
I have made 9 solo albums as well as featuring on numerous shared and themed recordings, contributed chapters to 11 books, written an autobiography and co-edited Well Tuned Women (on women and voice) with Jenny Pearson.
My passion for the traditional styles of singing in the British Isles and from around the world informed the development of my voice and singing workshops. The workshops were also influenced by my background as a trainer in social and youth work.
“Her voice conveys utter conviction and great humanity.She is an incredible story teller and has me on the edge of my chair listening to Tam Lin even
though I”ve heard it dozens of times.”
Having been involved with folk and political songs since the 1950s, I’ve always been fascinated by the way that voice can enhance an individual’s sense of well being and can also develop a sense of community between people. It can link us to the thread of song that comes down to us from our ancestors. Hence I’ve always been interested in exploring voice and song in its historical, cultural, political and spiritual dimensions. I also see the voice as a tool to aid self-expression, creativity and confidence. Over the past two decades I have particularly focused on the body-voice connection, having worked and trained with a variety of bodywork and movement teachers.
Over the years I have run workshops with almost every kind of group –
children of all ages and abilities, community and womens’ groups, people with disabilities, drama students, therapists, psychiatric patients, folk song students and the elderly. I have been a guest tutor at International Voice Conferences in the U K, Australia and North America. I have taught for professional theatre companies including Welfare State International, Opera Circus and Compass Theatre, and at music and theatre festivals. I also taught at the National Theatre Studio, London for 18 years. I have worked as an actress/singer with GRAEAE Theatre Company, Cardiff Laboratory Theatre and performed in Stepping Out for the Adelaide Festival Theatre.
A couple of my more recent projects are:
Bread and Roses
Frankie is joined by singers and choir leaders Laura Bradshaw and Pauline Down. They explore a repertoire largely of women”s” songs past and present, songs they have penned themselves and songs promoting social justice. Glorious harmonies are the hallmark of this trio, including the exotic sounds of Bulgaria and Georgia
Frankie Armstrong, Sarah Harman, Pauline Down, Laura and Ruth Bradshaw
Variegated Women is a feisty, folky, five-piece female voice and instrumental ensemble, with a passion for singing to promote change. Between us, we
have several centuries’ worth of singing experience and songs. We are all
professional singers in our own right who love the opportunity to come together to
explore harmonies created in these islands and from around the world. The emphasis is on women”s songs and those speaking for peace and social justice, both old and new. We can ring the changes from one voice to five – some of our repertoire is acapella and some with instrumentation that includes guitar, saxophone, flute, accordion, whistle and drums. This means we can create a performance of great richness and variety, exploring different genres and textures. Our hope is to communicate power, tenderness and fun involving the audience both as listeners and sometime joiners-in.
Frankie Sings Songs of Brecht, Eisler and Weill with Mikey Price
Myself and multi instrumentalist Mikey Price have built a repertoire of the songs of the German poet and playright Bertold Brecht (in English translations) in settings by Kurt Weill and Hans Eisler, leading composers of their day. Though these songs were written between the 1920s and 1940s
they are as relevant today as in the unsettled times in which they were written.
2014 saw the passing of a great friend and fellow acivist Pete Seeger, his message will live on through the fantastic songs he wrote and the singers that he inspired to sing them.
Darryl Holter, Frankie Armstrong, Pete Seeger, Larry Penn, and David Drake (behind Penn) performing during the 1987 strike by 850 United Food and Commercial Workers Local P-40 members against Patrick Cudahy, Inc. in front of the union’s hall in Cudahy.
Dave Haslam, Rock and Reel review of Encouragement
” . . . one of the UKs most distinctive and respected singers. Encouragement is what Armstrong does best bringing her considerable interpretive skills to a collection of traditional and contemporary songs. Whether accapela or with understated and sympathetic accompaniment . . . she gets under the skin of her chosen material, brings the songs vividly to life and invites the listener to consider the political subtext which underlies many of them. At the heart of this collection is Armstrong’s tour de force, an unaccompanied and highly charged ten minute interpretation of Tam Lin that must be considered as one of the best versions of the song ever recorded.”