Brenda Wootton - Cornish bard and singer

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Brenda Wootton
Brenda Wootton

Brenda Wootton was a well-known Cornish folk singer and Cornish bard, who enjoyed enormous success, not only in her home county but throughout the Celtic folk scene, especially in Brittany. She toured in France on many occasions. For 6 years, she teamed up with John the Fish. They worked together singing at clubs and festivals all over the country and at the first Lorient Festival in France. They sang together at the Botallack Count House. Later Brenda opened the Pipers Folk Club at St. Buryan.

She became a professional singer, late in life in the middle of the seventies and was sometimes called the singing grandmother. Prior to this she had sung in her local pub until friends persuaded her to make a record in 1976. The following year she made her first appearance in France. She was a natural singer, with an impressive range. Her voice could be tender, bawdy, powerful or wistful. She sang solo, with partners, with children’s choruses and even with brass bands, covering the full range of Cornish songs, some in the Cornish language.

In 1994, Brenda Wootton died aged sixty-six, after a long illness at her home in Penzance. She had been ill for around five years, forcing her to withdraw gradually from the music scene. Even today, no collection of Cornish music can be complete without Brenda Wootton’s recordings of such songs as “Pasties and Cream” and “Way down to Lamorna”.