Sandy Denny was born and raised in London, and studied classical piano as a child. During the 60s she began singing folk music, and performed in various London folk clubs. She appeared on BBC television in 1966, performing two traditional songs. She became known for her distinctive clear, powerful voice, and made some recordings for Saga Records in 1967 (they appeared on the albums Alex Campbell And His Friends and Sandy and Johnny, an LP shared with folk singer Johnny Silvo). She then joined The Strawbs, and recorded an entire album with them which was never released, before leaving. She also managed to get her own composition "Who Knows Where The Times Goes" recorded by American folk singer Judy Collins.
1968 was the year she joined folk-rock group Fairport Convention, who had already recorded one album. She replaced original singer Judy Dyble. With Denny on board they released three brilliant albums in 1969, and with each one they became more and more emersed in traditional English folk material, resulting in their masterpiece Liege & Lief, generally considered the most important album of English folk-rock. It was then, at the height of their success, that Denny left. She started a new band in 1970, Fotheringay, which followed a similar style but focused more on her songwriting as well as her piano playing. They did not last long, and broke up after releasing one classic album.
She then began her solo career. Her debut, The North Star Grassman & The Ravens, came out in 1971. It was an excellent album, showcasing her broad range of folk-rock styles, from traditional English material to more American-sounding numbers with hints of blues and country (among them a cover of Bob Dylan's "Down In The Flood"). Among the backing musicians were featured all her past bandmates from Fotheringay, and Richard Thompson of Fairport, plus American pedal steel guitarist Buddy Emmons. A couple of songs had string arrangements.
Most importantly this album proved her worth as an independent singer-songwriter without the need of a band. All but three of the songs were her own compositions.
|> Sandy (1972)
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