Brenda Wootton

brenda wootton
new CD -'all of me'


BRENDA WOOTTON exclusive- unheard Paris concert recordings discovered

Read the story below, sample tracks further down the page, see also latest updates at bottom.

John, my husband, had a recording studio back in the '80's and was Brenda Wootton's sound engineer and co-producer during the peak of her international recording career. He came across two tapes from that time and written on the labels was, 'Brenda ???'. These have transpired to be unique for two reasons; firstly, these live tracks have never been heard, and secondly, that the tapes are still in a playable condition!

Brenda Wootton's name still evokes emotions in Cornish hearts and souls and no collection of Cornish music is complete without her. Together, Brenda and John, produced much of her recorded work at this time. The albums that John produced were put down in our recording studio, however, Brenda wanted this concert in Paris recorded in front of a live audience to capture the atmosphere and humour of the occasion. Her warmth and character connected with the French psyche; they adored 'Mama Brenda', In June1984, Brenda, along with Camborne Town Band and the cream of local musicians, played at 'Bobino', an iconic Parisienne theatre/music hall, for a week.

The concert starts with several pieces played by the band, who are then joined by Brenda. Some of the tunes are well known from previous albums and some are new to me, so may never have been available until now. What defines the unique quality with this performance is the vibrancy of being live, with Brenda chatting in French and the empathy, response and interaction with the audience. There are beautiful songs like 'What's in a Name' and 'Silver Nets' and an extraordinary version of 'Jan Knuckey' with sophisticated Parisiennes responding with the 'woo, woos' and boom, booms' in all the right places.

Below are some edited samples of just 6 of the 25 tracks recorded. Click the titles to play them.
Click here for a complete list of the 25 tracks and descriptions.

We hadn't realised how celebrated Brenda was in France until, in 1986, she was invited to perform at the Inter-celtique Festival in Lorient, Britanny, where she undertook the ambitious, full length production of a mythical story of mystical folk set to music. To make this happen, Brenda took singers, musicians and dancers from the county, including John who accompanied her on guitar. We were on-lookers to her reputation, she was a fantastic communicator, and everywhere she went crowds followed for autographs, with press and TV reporters lining up for interviews.

Brenda relaxing Brenda cover picture Brenda the three divas

She was a standard bearer of Cornish culture and when Brenda died in 1994, she had an international reputation that stretched as far as Australia, regularly performing in Paris, alongside internationally known artistes such as Mercedes Sosa and Maria Carta.

It's remarkable that these tapes have tangibly survived. Without going into the technical detail, mostly because I wouldn't know what I was talking about, some professional tape from this era has proved to be unstable as the oxide has shedded, making the master tracks unusable. This was an 'across the board' problem in the industry. By chance, the concert was recorded on a different brand of tape, hence, the original master tape survives in intact. There was also the problem of listening to the tape as recording studios today are digital and don't have analogue tape recorders, however, the final piece of the puzzle slotted into place when talking to an old friend, Lionel Curnow of Porthleven who owns two high quality tape recorders that can play these professionally recorded reels, it's thanks to him that we can hear them now.

These tracks represent Brenda at her zenith. She ranges from tender and wistful to powerful and earthy; flipping, vocally, from carrying the banner in a church parade to seducing a night club audience . A true 'daughter of the sea', surging with confidence and ever conscious of her role as an emissary for Cornwall. To the French she may have been La Grande Cornouaillaise but she will be remembered as Gwylan Gwavas - Seagull of Newlyn- a local girl who began her career at Piper's Folk Club and leaving no doubt, that Cornwall's the Land she loved.

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