Margaret's voice is right where it needs to be, whether delivering a clarion
call for social justice, a tender lullaby, a lively or poignant folk tale, an
uplifting hymn to Mother Earth, a rousing work song of the yardarm or an
up-yours from a feisty lass. Margaret usually sings unaccompanied, favouring the
folk tradition and some select contemporary writers. She has been involved in
the Australian folk scene for over thirty years, as a soloist, a collaborator
with songwriter John Warner, and a member of various duos and the Roaring
Forties. She has recorded several albums.
Margaret Walters first
realized her passion for folk songs in Brisbane in the early sixties when the
music from the "folk boom" coincided with her hearing a field recording of Child
ballads, and experiencing live folk music at the Brisbane Folk Centre. But it
was many years before she sang in public and then the catalyst was a period of
living in England where, for the first time, she heard live unaccompanied folk
Her distinctive tones are
heralded from Redfern to Redditch, from Maleny to Maidenhead and Maine, and her
latest album, Power in a Song, has received high praise.
Visits to England
(including tours in '92, '94, and '98) keep reinforcing Margaret's taste for finger
in the ear, but she enjoys many styles of folk singing including the blues. She
has an extensive repertoire and sings songs from Australia, the British Isles
and a few American songs as well. Major influences are Frankie Armstrong, Peter
Bellamy, Jez Lowe, and John Warner.
For the Future and the Past
is the title of Margaret's first CD (1990). She has contributed songs and/or
harmonies to many albums over the years, most importantly her work with John Warner
(see below). Her new solo album, Power in a Song, has special
guests Nancy Kerr, James Fagan, Kim Poole, John Warner, and others. It came out
April 2003 and includes many traditional songs and also songs by John Warner, Jez Lowe, and other writers imbued with the tradition.
Solo workshop themes
concern: convicts, colonial women in Australia, feisty damsels wherever, songs
about working lives, peace, animals, the supernatural, unrequited love,
shanties, and empowering chorus songs. These all invite audience participation
through call and response, choruses and harmony.
In the ten years
1993-2003, Margaret worked with songwriter John Warner in a duo known as
Walters & Warner. They collaborated on many successful projects, some
of which culminated in the CDs Pithead in the Fern and Who
Was Here? They also produced the remarkable song and verse cycle, "Yarri
of Wiradjuri", and several other memorable thematic presentations such
as "Bread Broom and Bucket", and "Here's to the People of All Trades". It was a very
creative and formidable partnership, but both are now seeking new directions and
Walters & Warner are no longer performing as duo, although both remain members of the Roaring Forties. (John
may be contacted at 02
A folk activist,
Margaret has been a constant source of energy on the Sydney folk scene,
facilitating, organising, hosting, guiding, publicising, sharing, supporting in
a hundred ways both local and international artists. Her current major involvement is the
monthly Almost Acoustic folk venue in Rozelle, Sydney.
Margaret Walters, PO Box 615, GLEBE NSW 2037 AUSTRALIA
Phone 61 2 9698 2206 Fax
61 2 9698 2115
selection from some reviews of Margaret Walters and her album
in a Song:
December 2003-February 2004
Margaret herself has got quite a presence as a singer. Her voice is strong with
a refreshing edge. Her singing tends consistently towards the gentle sidepossibly leaving room for a bit more attack, to this listener's ears at least -
but her voice carries a weight of experience and powerful emotions with unforced
dignity. And there's quite a few powerful emotions to get round, as the album
deals with the primal themes beloved of folkies and the songs they sing: death,
hardship, struggle, the small achievements of childhood, the hardness of the
lives which the majority of human beings have led, and the power of nature.
My personal favourites are Joe Hill, the driving When McGuiness Gets a Job and
John Warner's hymn-like Murrumbidgee Water. Overall, this is heartfelt,
proficient, and certainly worth a listen.
in Folk Roundabout
Her repertoire majors both on John's original songs and on her strong
reinterpretations of traditional and contemporary material, these elements being
well reflected in this magnificent new CD.
Her voice is richly expressive yet unpretentious in its direct and unassuming
way of telling the stories in the songsnotwithstanding the undeniable
intellectual (as well as musical) effort needed to do them true justice, which
Margaret evidently appreciates and brings to her readings.
Margaret has produced a lovely CD of really lasting value.
Pat Nightingale in Folk London,
One venture into the traditional, Trees they do grow high, with Nancy Kerr on
viola, is a particularly compelling and hypnotic version of this magnificent
As if Walters' strong, pure voice and a way of putting over a song with truth
and immediacy weren't enough to make this an outstanding album, there is
excellent instrumental (and occasionally vocal) support from Nancy Kerr and
Derek Gifford in Folk North West
These different versions of Trees They Do Grow High, Maria's Gone, Van
Dieman's Land and Death of Ben Hall make a refreshing change.
Bob Bolton in Mulga Wire,
This is Margaret's second solo album and it celebrates what Margaret does
bestsinging songs full of interest, meaning and beauty
and singing them
All these have strong tunes and meaningful words that come to life with
Margaret's strong, characterful voice and clear statement.
This isn't a CD to play as "musical wallpaper"listen to the words, admire the
care and thought put into just the right amount of backing and harmony, think
hard about what the songs have to tell us
and revel in the "Power in a Song!"
in a Song] is not only a delight of a wander amongst trad. and "new"
songs, but a lovely "tour de voice" also. I enjoy hearing the different textures
you use and how well you handle the different styles you sing inand it sounds
like you're enjoying them all.
the years, [Margaret's] work has been a constant yardstick of the continuity of
the folk tradition delving into the depths of traditional material, but also
open to the creations of the best of our contemporary folk songwritersnotably
CD is a classic Australian folk recordingand ought to be in the collection of
any folkie that values our living culture, but also anyone who loves their music
warm, rich, and filled with love. The production is gentle and the list of guest
musicians an indication of the respect accorded to Margaret by those who know
her worthJames Fagan & Nancy Kerr among many.
I have decided that, if the earth itself had a voice, this is what I think it
would sound like. Not so very young, not so very innocentbut full of strength
and wisdom and heart. Power in a Song indeed.
Margaret ... has a very personal way of telling her stories ... [her] knowledge
of traditional and contemporary song is extensive and that becomes apparent
listening to her talking about the songs as well as singing them. Go and hear
in Trad & Now,
Folk Alliance Australia Newsletter,
Margaret is not hiding behind rich or lush instrumental backing, and
not afraid to stand up-front and let her voice and her interpretations of the
songs speak for themselves. The instrumental accompaniments are mostly very
sparse, but they suit the voice, the songs and the purpose of the album, as they
make you pay attention to the meaning and depths of the songs"the eternal
struggle with ourselves and the environment". There are several songs by John
Waters [sic], some by other writers, and traditional ones mostly from English
and Australian backgrounds
album, appropriately named "Power in a Song" showcases a number of the many
unusual and compelling folk songs Margaret has been collecting over the years. It is also a testament to some of her greatest song points as a singer. Her
ability to nose out wonderful songs, putting her own special stamp on them, the
emotion she puts into the songs, using her amazing voice to bring out the story
or the mood; the instincts she has for the right arrangements and the right
musicians and singers to accompany her.