Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
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Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)


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Colin Randall 01 Sep 11 - 04:28 AM
GUEST,chris 01 Sep 11 - 04:42 AM
GUEST,Nephew adam. 01 Sep 11 - 05:43 AM
GUEST,Guest - John Conolly 01 Sep 11 - 06:48 AM
Jim Martin 01 Sep 11 - 07:42 AM
open mike 01 Sep 11 - 12:02 PM
JHW 01 Sep 11 - 01:53 PM
Joe Offer 01 Sep 11 - 01:55 PM
maeve 01 Sep 11 - 01:58 PM
janemick 01 Sep 11 - 02:06 PM
Wolfhound person 01 Sep 11 - 03:26 PM
Matthew Edwards 01 Sep 11 - 03:50 PM
Cuilionn 01 Sep 11 - 04:51 PM
GUEST,Ewan McVicar 01 Sep 11 - 05:16 PM
GUEST,julia L 01 Sep 11 - 10:49 PM
Diva 02 Sep 11 - 04:38 AM
GUEST,Margaret Bennett 02 Sep 11 - 04:59 PM
GUEST,Kathie Costello - Stirling Folk Club 02 Sep 11 - 05:39 PM
GUEST,phil davison, journalist, london 02 Sep 11 - 07:29 PM
Dave Sutherland 03 Sep 11 - 07:06 AM
GUEST,John James 03 Sep 11 - 07:25 AM
GUEST,Doug and Doreen Cadwell 03 Sep 11 - 05:12 PM
Duane D. 03 Sep 11 - 10:06 PM
Richard Atkins 04 Sep 11 - 08:37 PM
GUEST 05 Sep 11 - 06:14 AM
GUEST 05 Sep 11 - 06:15 AM
maeve 05 Sep 11 - 09:23 AM
Wolfhound person 05 Sep 11 - 12:27 PM
Little Robyn 05 Sep 11 - 06:45 PM
Wolfhound person 06 Sep 11 - 12:40 PM
The Sandman 06 Sep 11 - 01:10 PM
maeve 06 Sep 11 - 01:15 PM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 06 Sep 11 - 03:37 PM
Desert Dancer 06 Sep 11 - 07:09 PM
Desert Dancer 06 Sep 11 - 07:11 PM
Desert Dancer 06 Sep 11 - 07:13 PM
GUEST,cujimmy 06 Sep 11 - 08:00 PM
Susanne (skw) 07 Sep 11 - 09:35 PM
GUEST,Roisin White, Alwyn Wilson, Ireland 09 Sep 11 - 09:27 AM
Wolfhound person 09 Sep 11 - 11:06 AM
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GUEST,Jonathan 14 Dec 11 - 09:23 AM
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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP
From: Colin Randall
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 04:28 AM

Fuller and much more fitting obituaries will appear elsewhere - I am away from my normal references - but I have cobbled together this modest tribute at
Salut! Live , incorporarting some of the uplifting messages left on this thread.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP
From: GUEST,chris
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 04:42 AM

great loss
chris & Annie

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP
From: GUEST,Nephew adam.
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 05:43 AM

aunty ray will be sadly missed but at least she is free. Much love ADAM D.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP
From: GUEST,Guest - John Conolly
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 06:48 AM

I'm so sorry to hear of Ray's passing - joy and laughter and a great,great voice all wrapped up in one lovely person...

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP
From: Jim Martin
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 07:42 AM

Well said Richard (Mellish)!

The Guardian's obit:

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP
From: open mike
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 12:02 PM

I wondered if she was any relation to Archie Fisher. Yes, they were siblings. here is a link posted on the mudcat facebook page: Born in Glasgow, Ray Fisher is one of three out of a family of seven children whose musical talents have made the name Fisher synonymous with Scottish folk music. Ray, her brother Archie and sister Cilla have trodden their own distinct musical paths....

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP
From: JHW
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 01:53 PM

Very sad. RIP

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Subject: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 01:55 PM

Here's the Guardian obituary, posted so it doesn't get lost over time.

    Ray Fisher obituary
    One of Britain's great interpreters of traditional song

    Sheila Miller, Thursday 1 September 2011 12.37 BST

    Ray Fisher, who has died of cancer aged 70, was one of Britain's great singers of traditional songs. Martin Carthy, another widely known folk musician, once referred to her and Norma Waterson as the country's leading performers in their field.

    Ray was born in Glasgow into a musical family of seven children in which everyone sang. Her father was a soloist with the City of Glasgow police choir; her mother sang in Scots Gaelic. Her brother, Archie, became a singer and broadcaster, and her sister Cilla a singer and children's performer with the Singing Kettle. Ray and Archie initially played skiffle but then took up traditional American songs. While in her teens, Ray was greatly impressed by the singing of Ronnie Gilbert of the Weavers, a woman with a big voice, quite unlike the reedy sopranos that were expected at that time.

    In the late 1950s, Norman Buchan, a teacher and folklorist who later became a Labour MP, started the Ballads Club in Glasgow, attracting many young singers and musicians who were eager to learn more about traditional songs, among them Ray and Archie. Through him and his wife Janie, Ray met the great Scots traditional singer Jeannie Robertson, who, after hearing her sing, invited Ray to stay with her in Aberdeen for six weeks to learn about her songs.

    While at Jordanhill teacher-training college in the late 1950s, Ray started a folk club and joined her brother and Bobby Campbell, a singer and fiddler, in a trio called the Wayfarers. Ray and Archie were then asked to make regular appearances on Here and Now, an early-evening magazine programme on Scottish Television.

    Ray was now being booked to sing all over Britain. On one trip, to Newcastle upon Tyne, she met the fiddler and Northumbrian piper Colin Ross, whom she married in 1962. That year, she was also part of Arnold Wesker's Centre 42 project, touring the country with other singers, and was subsequently asked by AL Lloyd to sing on his album of industrial folk songs, The Iron Muse (1963).

    The move to Tyneside put paid to the duo with her brother, and she began to give more solo performances, concentrating in particular on the big, traditional ballads. She loved finding different versions of those songs and, where necessary, reconstructing the stories, making versions that were entirely her own. She also taught on courses run by Folkworks, a sort of forerunner of the folk degree course now run at Newcastle University.

    Ray made several albums, though fewer than would be expected of a singer who was so widely admired. She said in one interview: "I don't feel the need to put things on tape. I don't feel the urge to record anything. I'm amazed by the number of albums that people have made in the time that they've been singing … I'm not interested in what posterity has to say about what contribution I've made to folk music." She never pushed herself forward or sought bookings, being content to take the gigs that were offered.

    Alongside the passion of her singing, Ray also had a gift for making people laugh, with witty comments and the odd silly song. She was a committed anti-nuclear campaigner, taking part in the marches in protest at the presence of US nuclear submarines at Holy Loch.

    She fell ill in 2005 but was eventually able to resume her singing, her voice as strong, fine and passionate as ever, and she was greeted warmly at festivals and clubs. In 2008, the English Folk Dance and Song Society awarded Ray its gold badge, its highest honour, for her services to traditional song.

    Ray is survived by Colin and their children, Fiona, Andrew and Duncan.

    • Ray Fisher, folk singer, born 26 November 1940; died 31 August 2011

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: maeve
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 01:58 PM

Thank you, Joe.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: janemick
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 02:06 PM

Very sad news indeed. Jane & Pete Mickelborough

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: Wolfhound person
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 03:26 PM

Ray's funeral will be on Monday 12 September at Whitley Bay. More details available if required. PM me, or email Julia (dot) Say (at) nspipes (dot) co (dot) uk

Colin has requested to see this thread, which I will make available for him, and he is very grateful for all the messages of support and good wishes. Please, no phone calls to them, as they find it difficult to cope with the number of messages.

Paws / Julia

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 03:50 PM

Like several others here I have fond memories of meeting Ray at the National where she displayed a really infectious enthusiasm for songs and singers in equal measure. There was one memorable interview with Sheila Stewart one year where the pair of them just chattered away happily so that we in the audience just felt privileged to listen in on such a wonderful conversation. My condolences to Colin and to all the family.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: Cuilionn
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 04:51 PM

RIP Ray. Blessings as you cross over that final river. May there be a host of joyful voices to sing you home. Your songs and stories have touched so many of us, and will continue to help carry us along.

Colin-- Blessings to you and your family as you mourn. my partner and I have treasured both your music and Ray's for so many years. We have a cassette of Ray's singing that was finally worn out by many years of playing along the backroads of the state of Maine. Every time I see one of those "swoosh" logos, I don't think of a shoe company-- I think of Ray calling out gleefully at a concert, "Just dae it!"


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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: GUEST,Ewan McVicar
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 05:16 PM

It makes the heart crack. We were all teenagers in Glasgow together,intoxicated and in love with the joy of the songs and singing. Ray refined her wonderful innate skills, and then took her love of the songs out to enthuse others across the world. God, it was good to have known her. Sorely missed.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: GUEST,julia L
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 10:49 PM

One of a kind...such an amazing resource.. a real loss
Julia L

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: Diva
Date: 02 Sep 11 - 04:38 AM

Ray was a huge influence on my singing. Lots of brilliant memories of her at festivals and gigs over the years. Playing the very out of tune piano upstairs in the Unionist Club in Copshie (Newcastleton Traditional Music Festival)and gein' it laldie; and this at some ridiculous time of the morning. Just brilliant. Her appearence at the Ballad club in Glasgow last year where she was the special guest was fantastic. My condolences to Colin and all the family.

Kathy Hobkirk

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: GUEST,Margaret Bennett
Date: 02 Sep 11 - 04:59 PM

As we shared the joy of Ray's friendship, her singing and her laughter so now we share the sadness of loss -- a dear, special friend who lit up our lives in so many ways. Heartfelt condolences to Colin and all the family, with love and huge gratitude for every moment with Ray.
Margaret Bennett

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: GUEST,Kathie Costello - Stirling Folk Club
Date: 02 Sep 11 - 05:39 PM

An inspirational singer and unique character, much loved by all who heard her and had the good fortune to meet her. She will never be forgotten.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: GUEST,phil davison, journalist, london
Date: 02 Sep 11 - 07:29 PM

Dear friends,
My condolences to Ray's family.
I'm writing Ray's obit for The Scotsman newspaper.
Can anyone tell me where Ray passed away. Whitley Bay ?
Also, we would normally mention her full name in the middle of the piece. Was Ray short for something?
Sorry if this sounds trite. Obviously, it's in a good cause, since I'm trying to help preserve her memory.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 03 Sep 11 - 07:06 AM

Phil - I think that Ray was short for Raylene although I'm sure that someone will be along soon to correct the spelling. It was an on going thing on the folk scene the amount of people who insisted on altering Ray to Rae and a great source of amusement to the lady herself.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: GUEST,John James
Date: 03 Sep 11 - 07:25 AM

This sad news hurtled me tumbling through the years back to a distant Scottish folk festival, I was just putting the guitar away after a workshop, Ray sat down beside me.."D'know this one Jocky Jim ( a name her brother has bestowed upon me!)..and started singing "Who's sorry now"...from Connie Francis. Note & word perfect from her teenage years. Great.
Thanks must go to Sheila Miller for an Excellent Obit.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: GUEST,Doug and Doreen Cadwell
Date: 03 Sep 11 - 05:12 PM

Like so many others we have so many vibrant memories of Ray that will never fade.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: Duane D.
Date: 03 Sep 11 - 10:06 PM

I heard this sad news at my job at Folk Legacy on September 01, from David Paton. Caroline Paton and I had seen Archie in concert, separately, about a year and a half ago, and Archie told us Ray wasn't well and at the time I did not know the nature of her illness. I had seen Ray in concert in the mid-1970s, perhaps at the Middletown (NJ) Folk Festival. Her singing left an strong impression upon me. Her music is always present at Folk Legacy, as we have her as well as Archie and Cilla in the collection. She will be sadly missed.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: Richard Atkins
Date: 04 Sep 11 - 08:37 PM

Sad news for me for a lady of Great character ,talent and humour.

I recall Four Fools Festival years ago. Ray with Cigarette in hand with her wee dram, telling me im on.

On stage then her banter and other Artists invited to join in on her spot wonderful.

Such a shame I now dicover her wonderful songs on u tube.

The memories of my Introduction to the folk scene some 20 years ago kick in now.

My thoughts to Sister and family.


Ray was uniqe and thank you for you.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
Date: 05 Sep 11 - 06:14 AM

And in the Scotsman today:

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
Date: 05 Sep 11 - 06:15 AM

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: maeve
Date: 05 Sep 11 - 09:23 AM

Thanks for that, Guest.

I'm celebrating Ray's life today by singing and by listening to her music.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: Wolfhound person
Date: 05 Sep 11 - 12:27 PM

At Colin's request, I am printing this thread out shortly for him and the family to see.
Some of us post under pseudonyms which they won't recognise, not being regular readers here.

If anyone wishes to, please PM or email your real name asap, and I'll list them on the printout (nowhere else) so that the family can see them.



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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: Little Robyn
Date: 05 Sep 11 - 06:45 PM

I've just found video of the family concert in Glasgow earlier this year.
Ray and her family are here.

I love it!

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: Wolfhound person
Date: 06 Sep 11 - 12:40 PM

And another:

Daily Telgraph obit

Julia / Paws

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Sep 11 - 01:10 PM


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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: maeve
Date: 06 Sep 11 - 01:15 PM

Thank you, Julia.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 06 Sep 11 - 03:37 PM

there was also an obituary in Tuesday's Times, but that's not available online unless you pay..

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 06 Sep 11 - 07:09 PM

As Joe noted earlier in this thread, in the interests of public archiving, we often copy the full text of worthy obituaries of musicians here.

From the Scotsman:

Obituary: Ray Fisher, folksinger

By Phil Davison
05 September 2011

Singer who, along with brother Archie, was at the forefront of UK folk revival
Ray Fisher, folksinger.
Born: 26 November, 1940, in Glasgow.
Died: 31 August, 2011, in North Shields, Tyne and Wear, aged 70.

ALONG with her elder brother Archie, Ray Fisher was one of the "Glasgow boys and girls" in the vanguard of the UK folk revival of the late 1950s and early 1960s. She became perhaps the best-known Scots folksinger of her generation, not only in her homeland but south of the Border and among the Scots diaspora worldwide.

Having started in a 1950s skiffle group with her brother, she joined him in a folk duo - Ray and Archie Fisher - her bespectacled face becoming well-known on numerous TV programmes including the BBC's Hootenanny and STV's Here and Now, presented by Bill Tennent. She was also part of the trio The Wayfarers along with Archie and singer/fiddler Bobby Campbell.

Ray and Archie also recorded as the Fisher Family, along with their parents, their young sister Cilla and later Cilla's husband Artie Trezise. Cilla and Artie later became part of the popular Singing Kettle group while Ray and Archie each went solo.

It was during a solo gig at the Bridge Folk Club in Newcastle in the early 1960s that Ray met English folk musician Colin Ross, the club's founder, a fiddler and piper who became one of the creators of the modern Scottish smallpipes, including the breakthrough standardisation of bagpipe hole spacings and reeds.

They married in 1962. Fisher guested with Ross in his group the High Level Ranters, playing the traditional music of the Borders, and she settled in his native North Shields area for the rest of her life. She nevertheless remained a passionate ambassador for Scots' folk music and the ballad tradition, toured the world, giving gigs from Canada to Hong Kong to New Zealand, wherever there were congregations of homesick Scots.

She also returned regularly to take part in the Edinburgh Festival, where, as early as 1963-64, she had sung on the classic albums Edinburgh Folk Festival volumes one and two, released by Decca, joining Archie in Whiskey in the Jar on the first volume .

Offstage, Fisher was a feisty fighter against nuclear weapons housed in Scotland, angry that Scottish people and her beloved landscape could be the first target of the then Soviet union, or any rogue nuclear state or terrorist group with a grievance against the US. She marched against the presence of American nuclear submarines at the Holy Loch and was a regular at the peace camp outside the Trident base at Faslane on the Gare Loch.

Ray Fisher was born "in the shadow of the Fairfield Crane" by the river Clyde in Glasgow on 26 November, 1940, one of six sisters with one brother, Archie. She was only 15 weeks old when Clydeside was devastated by the Luftwaffe in March 1941.

Her father was a soloist in the City of Glasgow Police Choir while her mother, a Gaelic-speaker from Vatersay, instilled in her a love for traditional ballads and stories handed down by word of mouth.

Along with Archie, Ray became drawn to the new 50s craze, skiffle, headed by her fellow Glaswegian Lonnie Donegan. Archie then "discovered" politically-motivated American singers such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, while Ray became highly-influenced by both the powerful voice and the outspoken leftist sympathies of Ronnie Gilbert, who sang with Seeger in one of the huge folk groups of the 1960s, the Weavers. (Years later, one of Ray's greatest thrills was to back Woody Guthrie's famous war buddy, soulmate and harmoniser Cisco Houston in a gig at Glasgow's Berkeley Hall).

When Ray was still in her late teens, Archie took her to what had become known as the Ballads Club, run by a folk music-loving teacher at Rutherglen Academy in Glasgow. His name was Norman Buchan and he would go on to become Labour MP for West Renfrewshire, and later Paisley South, for more than half a century until his death in 1990.

Buchan's wife Janey, later to become a Scottish Labour MEP, introduced the young Ray to Jeannie Robertson, a former traveller and raspberry-picker. Robertson invited young Ray to her home in Aberdeen, where "I literally sat at her knee," Fisher recalled, hearing the legendary Robertson sing "muckle sangs" - traditional narrative ballads - about tinkers or other, usually-downtrodden Scots.

Robertson taught the young Glasgow lassie songs such as McCrimmon's Lament and the Jute Mill Song - "they fairly mak ye work fir yer ten n' nine".

Robertson's influence on Fisher thereafter was clear although it was always going to be difficult if not impossible, despite Fisher's crisp, clear vocals, to emulate her mentor's coinneach - the ability to combine words, melody and delivery into a single, moving spirit.

In her late teens, Fisher's ambition was still to be a teacher. She attended Glasgow's Jordanhill teacher-training college in the late 1950s, where she started up a folk club. Not only did folk singers and groups such as Pete Seeger, the Dubliners, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, Alex Campbell, Tom Paxton and the young Bert Jansch appear, but they also often ended up at the Fishers' Glasgow home still shared by Archie, Ray and Cilla.

English folksinger and guitarist Martin Carthy, now a legend, became one of Ray's biggest fans, describing her as one of the leading folk performers in the UK. Ray went from singing "silly songs" like When I was Single (of the Donald where's yir Troosers? ilk) to meaning-packed traditional ballads or up-to-date commentaries of the type being recorded by the great Ewan MacColl. Ray's first album, together with Archie, was titled Far Over the Forth in 1961, which included The Night Visiting Song, a traditional ballad that has been reincarnated in countless forms by artists such as Bob Dylan.

Once she had settled with Ross just south of the Border in the early 60s, Fisher not only sang but also taught folk music, initially at Folkworks, a club which later developed into a folk degree course at Newcastle University.

She went on to record several solo albums, including The Bonny Birdy (1972), featuring two of her favourite titles: Pride of Glencoe and The Shipyard Apprentice ("I was born in the shadow of the Fairfield crane"), written by Archie Fisher, Norman Buchan and Bobby Campbell. Carthy played guitar and co-arranged several of the album's tracks.

Her album Traditional Songs of Scotland, with Carthy on guitar and her husband Colin on Scottish smallpipes and fiddle, includes her renowned versions of Willie's Fatal Visit and The Floo'ers o' the Forest.

One of her other best-known numbers was Come a' ye Fisher Lassies - needless to say, not about her five sisters but about the women who handled the herring brought in by their husbands. Ray often sang it with Cilla: "We're awa' tae gut the herrin', we're awa' tae Yermouth toon."

Fisher could have recorded many more albums but explained in recent interviews that she still preferred the word-of-mouth, hand-me-down tradition: "I'm not interested in what posterity has to say about my contribution to folk music; I don't feel the need to put things on tape."

Ray Fisher died in North Tyneside hospital, North Shields, not far from her home in Monkseaton. She is survived by her husband Colin and their children Fiona, Andrew and Duncan.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 06 Sep 11 - 07:11 PM

From the Telegraph:

Music Obituaries
Ray Fisher
05 Sep 2011

Ray Fisher, the ballad singer who died on August 31 aged 70, was blessed with an unusually expressive voice that played a significant role in the British folk revival of the late 1950s.

She never sought fame or acclaim, but was recognised none the less as one of the greats of the traditional music genre. Above all she had an unrivalled ability to deliver "muckle" songs – big, demanding ballads. Her strong, emotive voice – and equally colourful, live-wire personality – contrasted sharply with the feyness often associated with female folk singers.

One of seven children, she was born on November 26 1940 and brought up in Glasgow in a musical family: her father was a soloist in the City of Glasgow Police Choir, while her mother sang Gaelic songs at home; her elder brother Archie and younger sister Cilla both became well-regarded folk singers and broadcasters.

Like so many influential artists of the era, Ray came to folk music through the brief British skiffle boom of the late 1950s, when would-be musicians across Britain picked up household implements to form makeshift bands playing primarily American folk and blues songs.

Both Ray and Archie tried their hands at skiffle and, when the fad subsided, looked for a British equivalent to the American skiffle songs they had learned. Ray was drawn to the Glasgow Ballads Club, where she became strongly influenced by traditional singers like the Stewarts of Blair and Lizzie Higgins. In particular she developed a close bond with the celebrated travelling singer Jeannie Robertson, with whom she stayed for a while in Aberdeen, learning much of her early repertoire.

Ray Fisher had planned to be a teacher, studying at Jordanhill Teacher Training College, but was sidetracked by music, running a singers' club – the Folk Song Workshop – and forming the Wayfarers trio with Archie and their friend Bobby Campbell. This led to regular appearances singing and playing guitar on Scottish television and, as folk clubs sprang up all over Britain, to gigs further afield.

In 1961 she made her first record with Archie, Far Over The Forth (1962), notable for the ballads The Twa Corbies and Kilbogie.

Appearing in Newcastle one night, she met the fiddle player and Northumbrian piper Colin Ross, of the Northumbrian group the High Level Ranters, and they married in 1962, when she moved across the border to live in Tyneside. Marriage effectively ended her partnership with Archie, but she continued to sing and research traditional material, often adapting, or writing additional verses to, existing songs.

She sang The Spinner's Wedding and Dundee Lassie on AL Lloyd's landmark collection of industrial songs, The Iron Muse (1962); featured on two volumes of recordings from the Edinburgh Folk Festival (1963-64); joined the rest of the Fisher family on Traditional and New Songs From Scotland (1965); and appeared on several other compilations.

Yet it wasn't until 1973 that she released her first solo album, The Bonny Birdy, accompanied by leading folk figures such as Martin Carthy, Ashley Hutchings and Alistair Anderson. It featured two of her defining tracks, The Pride Of Glencoe and The Silkie Of Sul Skerry. Subsequent recordings include Willie's Lady (1982) and Traditional Songs Of Scotland (1991).

For Ray Fisher, however, the joy of folk music lay not in recording or performing, but in passing on the legacy of songs she loved and providing an oral link to an old tradition. She taught singing at the Folkworks courses in the north-east, but her real strength was at informal gatherings, where she kept people riveted with her engaging stories, her mischievous sense of humour and her gripping delivery of big Scottish ballads.

A fervent anti-nuclear campaigner, she continued to sing magnificently, even after her first bout of serious illness five years ago. In 2008 her services to traditional song earned her a Gold Badge, the English Folk Dance and Song Society's highest honour.

Ray Fisher's husband and their daughter and two sons survive her.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 06 Sep 11 - 07:13 PM

My apologies for not encoding the italics in the above two obituaries. Also, note that there is a nice photo at the Telegraph link.

~ Becky in Long Beach

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: GUEST,cujimmy
Date: 06 Sep 11 - 08:00 PM

We saw her at The Geove in Lededs a rfew years ago, she was so funny we were in stitches, yet she sang Jamie Foyers so wonderfully, I wish I could see her again.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 07 Sep 11 - 09:35 PM

How very sad! I'd so much hoped her health would improve after seeing her live (the only time!) at the Ballad Workshop in Glasgow last year. (See the link Little Robyn posted above.) She was so painfully thin and ill looking, and yet showed such exuberant spirit and disregard of her own frailty it was mesmerising. Rest in peace, Ray, and my condolences to your family.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: GUEST,Roisin White, Alwyn Wilson, Ireland
Date: 09 Sep 11 - 09:27 AM

To Colin and family, we remember Ray fondly. She always had a great word of friendship for us when in Whitby. She came to our house there, where we shared a great meal, sang, and laughed. 'Free from pain and care she will always be, and time will make no change in Ray'.Roisin White

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: Wolfhound person
Date: 09 Sep 11 - 11:06 AM

Radio 4 now (16.00 BST) - obit programme including Ray

In haste


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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: Wolfhound person
Date: 09 Sep 11 - 01:07 PM

In Today's Independent.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
Date: 09 Sep 11 - 03:11 PM

that'll be:

And the text for posterity:

Ray Fisher: Singer who established herself as one of the most important figures in the British folk revival

By Ken Hunt, Friday, 9 September 2011
Scots, not to be confused with Gaelic, groans with rich and redolent expressions. The best word to describe Ray Fisher, who has died of cancer, was kenspeckle, not in its sense of "conspicuous", but in the sense of "standing out from, or standing apart from the multitude".

She was among the British folk revival's most important singers and interpreters, the drollest of parodists and an all-too-modest authority on our folk traditions. No wonder then that, deep in his Hollywood fame period, Billy Connolly drove hundreds of Californian miles to a distant folk club to see Ray and her sister Cilla sing the family brand of folk-song-and-beyond songs, a repertoire irrigated by their love of language and Scots idioms.

Born in Glasgow in 1940, Fisher was one of six daughters and a token son in a family with catholic musical tastes embracing light operatic and parlour fare, Scots and, through their mother, Gaelic songs. In receptive company, Fisher could unleash an impressively exaggerated Count John McCormack impersonation. Topic's The Fisher Family (1966), long out of print though reissued in Japan in 2002, captures the feistiness of the family singing together. Ray's lead vocal on "Joy of My Heart" and "Come All Ye Fisher Lassies" are defining performances.

For Fisher, like many of her generation, the skiffle movement was a conduit to folk music. Her brother Archie's and Bobby Campbell's skiffle group, The Wayfarers, landed an opening spot for Pete Seeger in their hometown, as well as in Edinburgh and Aberdeen (Archie was a year older than Ray). The group Seeger co-founded, The Weavers, and especially its female vocalist, Ronnie Gilbert, proved monumental inspirations. Of their 1957 LP, The Weavers at Carnegie Hall, Fisher admitted, "At one time I could start from the very beginning and go right through. Introductions word-for-word. Everything." Cliff Stanton, a local record shop owner, organiser of Cliff Stanton's Pan Club and under-acknowledged legend of the Glasgow folk scene, lent Fisher's fellow singer Hamish Imlach what were then prohibitively expensive US import LPs by the likes of Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly. It was, Fisher explained, "part of the upgrading of our education."

In her final school year Fisher met the Scottish Traveller Jeannie Robertson, yet to receive her 1968 MBE for services to traditional music. Norman Buchan, then a teacher and, with his wife, Janey, a stalwart of Glasgow's budding folk scene, invited a number of rising young singers to their Partick home. There Fisher sang "Jeannie My Dear, Will You Marry Me?" It was a Robertson morsel. She told Howard Glasser in a 1974 Sing Out! interview: "Jeannie sang the entire song after I'd sung it... talk about upstaging!"

Robertson saw potential, however, and invited Fisher to visit. Ignoring prejudices about the Traveller community, the teenager stayed at Robertson's Aberdeen home for some six weeks during the summer holidays. "She'd say, 'You've got a good voice. I'll give you these songs'. She didnae have to do that," Fisher told me. "She had a daughter of her own, [the superlative traditional singer] Lizzie Higgins."

Ray and Archie Fisher were one of the folk acts to gain greatly from television exposure. Opportunity knocked with Here and Now, the Scottish regional variant of BBC TV's Tonight magazine programme. Following the runaway success of Cy Grant, Rory & Alex McEwen and, especially, Robin Hall & Jimmie Macgregor, television embraced folk, topical song and calypso. Television's voracious appetite for new material schooled them in new disciplines and standards of professionalism. Watching the duo on television provided a steer for the Leith-raised folk singer and guitarist Dick Gaughan to perform professionally.

Her commercial recording debut came in 1961 with the duo's "Far over the Forth" EP, but she also recorded on a non-commercial basis for Edinburgh's School of Scottish Studies. The EP's natural expression of regional idioms and identity impressed many, including Gaughan and Anne Briggs.

Further direction for Fisher came through politics, whether singing for Labour Party, pro-CND and anti-Polaris events or attempting to go on Aldermaston marches. "Underneath all of what was going on within Scotland," she told me, "there was a realisation that there was strength in the music as a vehicle for politics. There was a left-wing stream and there was a Scottish nationalist stream. Folk music was just tailor-made for that."

In 1962, the year she married Colin Ross, the fiddler, piper and future mainstay of the High Level Ranters, and settled in Tyneside, she toured England with the Centre 42 project. An outgrowth of the TUC's resolution that unions support the arts and decentralise them from London, the folkies formed ranks alongside Shelagh Delaney, Christopher Logue and Arnold Wesker. Performing on Centre 42 stages led to Fisher contributing to Bert Lloyd's The Iron Muse (1963) and the radio ballads created by Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger and Charles Parker, On the Edge (1963).

Never fond of the studio, she managed to avoid recording her solo debut until 1972. Produced by Ashley Hutchings, The Bonny Birdy teamed her with accompanists of the calibre of Martin Carthy, Tim Hart, Hutchings and Peter Knight from Steeleye Span, Alistair Anderson and Colin Ross from the High Level Ranters, as well as Liz and Stefan Sobell and Bobby Campbell. They made an album with folk-rock credentials that did not swamp her distinctive singing style.

Better was to come with Willie's Lady (1982) which, in style and delivery, was truer to her live act. The title track is one of the Scots language's finest texts about the ancient belief system, and outwitting malice and witchcraft. Also typical of what made her unique was her interpretation of Alan Rogerson's version of, as she wrote, "one of the great parting songs", "When Fortune Turns the Wheel". Her third solo album, Traditional Songs of Scotland, emerged quietly in 1991.

Fisher was fond of humour and parodies, deconstructing with Cilla the Beverley Sisters' "Sisters" as "Twisters", or refashioning the Scots feminist anthem, "I'm a W.O.M.A.N.". As a writer Fisher contributed to The Singing Kettle, the children's entertainment ensemble fronted by Cilla, Artie Trezise and Gary Coupland; her story "Christmas Holiday Time" is preserved on The Singing Kettle's Christmas Crackers video.

Ray Galbraith Fisher, folk singer: born Glasgow 26 November 1940; married 1962 Colin Ross (two sons, one daughter); died North Shields 31 August 2011.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
Date: 09 Sep 11 - 11:57 PM

I sit reading this sad news at home in Maine.
We had barely moved into this house maybe 3 weeks when we hosted the 3 Fishers Ray,Archie & Cilla in concert at The Chocolate Church in Bath.
Let's just say we had quite a time in the new house that night.
I went on to host Ray and Cilla twice more and each time was great singing and much laughter.
As has benn said often in this thread--she was a rare and wonderful human being and such a singer --i will sorely miss her.
My prayers are with her family.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
Date: 10 Sep 11 - 10:49 AM

Newcastle Journal - can't find the article on their website but it's on the free library (

RAY Fisher, the popular Scottish folk singer who moved to the North East in the 1960s, has died, aged 70.

Born into a musical family in Glasgow, Ray was one of seven children. Her brother Archie was awarded the MBE in recognition of his songs and her sister Cilla is also a celebrated singer. Ray first performed folk songs alongside her brother and went on to form a trio named the Wayfarers with him and Bobby Campbell.

Ray's first album, along with Archie, Far Over The Forth, was released in 1961. One highlight, The Night Visiting Song, was covered by Bob Dylan.

In 1962 Ray met Northumbrian piper Colin Ross and moved to Newcastle. She soon became an integral part of the emerging folk scene in the city and nights at the Bridge Folk Club were enjoyed by many.

Colin formed the folk band High Level Ranters. Ray, who trained as a teacher, released her solo debut album, The Bonny Birdie, in 1972. The album also featured the High Level Ranters.

Ray went on countless tours and had legions of fans all over the world. She would regularly return to perform at the Edinburgh festival.

Education remained part of Ray's life and she was heavily involved with Folkworks, the music study centre that was later made part of a folk degree course at Newcastle University.

Jim Hall, from Ponteland, Northumberland , who plays with the High Level Ranters, has been a friend of the family for around 30 years.

He said: "She had a huge impact on the folk scene in the North East, she was a great lady.

"She would sing her songs and her brother Archie's songs. She took Scottish folk music way beyond these shores, it went worldwide."

Julia Say, secretary of the Northumbrian Pipers' Society, also knew Ray well. Julia said: "She had incisive wit and a penetrating sense of humour.

"She not only sang Scottish songs, but had a wide North East repertoire."

Ray would be remembered, Julia said, for "her endless fund of stories and singing knowledge".

Ray was awarded the highest honour by the English Folk Dance and Song Society in 2008. She also enjoyed story telling and poetry.

As well as her husband, she is survived by their daughter and two sons. She lived in Monkseaton, North Tyneside. Ray's funeral will take place at Whitley Bay Crematorium at 2.15pm on Monday.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: Noreen
Date: 11 Sep 11 - 03:08 PM

Ray's life in BBC Radio 4's 'Last Word' program, (as mentioned above) is being repeated at 8.30pm this evening, (less than half an hour)

and on iPlayer: Last Word with Ray Fisher

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: Wolfhound person
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 04:54 AM

Ray's funeral yesterday was attended by around 200 people, and was described by Artie Tresize who was the MC as to be a "sad, but not dour" occasion.
Colin requested Northumbrian pipers play as mourners assembled, which about 12 of us did.
Ray's coffin was piped into the building by Hamish Moore on Highland pipes.

Contributions came from both family and friends. The Fisher lassies sang...well...the Fisher lassies, what else. As well as snippets from early CDs, there were sung contributions from Martyn Wyndham - Read "The Rose", the poem Mother's Ruin written by Ray and read by Artie.

Ray's granddaughter played a fine horn solo, and her mother read a poem commemorating Ray's other Singer - her sewing machine. Ray's son Andrew told stories of her generosity to all, and particularly to them as children.

Anything that could be sung to or along with in the service was, with enthusiasm, and I believe the immediate family were very supported by and grateful for this, and for the high turnout.

At the committal, a solo Northumbrian piper (Chris Ormston) played Floors o' the Forest, followed by Keening in the Wind by Billy Pigg, which given the weather conditions (the tail-end of Hurricane Katia came over us yesterday) was perhaps more appropriate than originally intended.

The ceremony finished with Northumbrian pipers playing, and the entire company singing, "The Hills of Galloway" at the tops of their voices.

Artie mentioned that it is planned to have a "Fisher family" concert at the 2012 Celtic Connections event in January 2012.

The ceremony was followed by a packed gathering including a splendid display of family photographs compiled by Colin, Duncan, Andrew and Fiona over the past few days.

When I left, singing was just re-commencing.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: maeve
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 05:02 AM

Thank you to all who have added information to this thread. I wish I could have been there.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: Northerner
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 12:22 PM

Was so sad to see this, though I knew she had been very poorly. Ray gave me encouragement when I was starting out. I didn't see her again for a very long time after the 70s, but was delighted to see her again a year or two ago performing at Whitby Folk Week.

A wonderful performer.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: Wolfhound person
Date: 14 Sep 11 - 11:46 AM

Colin has asked me to pass on his grateful thanks to all those who have posted such supportive messages on this thread and elsewhere on the web. The universal appreciation of Ray's many talents has been of great comfort to him and the children.

Whilst the support and sympathy is much appreciated, the number of messages, cards, emails and so forth which they have received means that they cannot possibly respond to and thank every individual, much as they would like to.

Mudcat, you have helped. Enormously, and again.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Ray Fisher RIP (1940-2011)
From: GUEST,Jonathan
Date: 14 Dec 11 - 09:23 AM

I happened to find the album "Traditional Songs of Scotland" in a used CD store in NY City over 10 years ago and loved every song on it. Finally decided today (12-13-11) to find out more about Ray Fisher and if there was more. Sorry to hear that she is gone.

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