Chris Foster EPK - Press kit
Photos by Gísli Egill Hrafnsson
This section contains short and long biogs,
in English, in the third and first person.
Here is a downloadable pdf of the biogs.
English - Short, in 3rd person
Chris Foster is a master of his trade, recently described as “one of the finest singers and most thoughtful inventive guitar accompanists of English folk songs.” He was at the forefront of the folk revival in the 1970s when he was highly regarded as a cutting edge, serious interpreter of traditional song. He made two fine albums for Topic Records, gigged extensively and then diversified during the '80s, working as a community artist using a mix of performance and visual media.
In the early 2000's Chris re-emerged onto the UK folk scene and Colin Irwin wrote in fROOTS magazine “Chris Foster merits legend status, one of the very best in the second wave of the Brit folk revival, as important as Martin Carthy, Dick Gaughan and Nic Jones in the way he modernised and invested traditional songs with inventive guitar arrangements and potent vocal delivery.”
Over the past 40 plus years Chris has performed and recorded throughout the UK, Europe, Canada and the USA and even once in China. He now lives in Iceland with his wife Bára Grímsdóttir, where he performs both as a solo and as a duo artist with Bára as the duo Funi.
That his ability is undimmed is confirmed by his 2018 BBC Folk Award nominated album 'Hadelin', produced by Jim Moray and featuring among others, Jackie Oates and John Kirkpatrick. Traditional music, a couple of Leon Rosselson items and one song by Chris himself, delivered straight - memorable songs with deft acoustic guitar arrangements.
His aim as an artist working within the folk tradition is to create music whose sense of history is easily matched by an unassuming feel for its current relevance, songs such as "The trees they grow so high", "The gardener" and "Lord Bateman". As Chris says, "I find they offer a richness of imagery, insight and music that still speaks to me powerfully in the 21st century."
English- Long, in 3rd person
Chris Foster is a master of his trade, recently described as “one of the finest singers and most thoughtful inventive guitar accompanists of English folk songs.”
As a story teller in song, Chris takes the evocative tunes of dark ballads alongside the upbeat rhythms of rogue’s tales and sometimes jagged lines of Leon Rosselson’s contemporary verses and provides guitar accompaniments that range from fine filigree lines to beautifully paced punchy, rhythmic counterpoint harmony, weaving words and music together to complement the action of the story.
Chris Foster’s own history is as varied as one of the protagonists’ from his songs. He grew up in Somerset, in the south west of England, where he first heard and started singing traditional songs. Following a visual arts training he became a full-time musician, clocking up 8 years of continuous solo touring throughout Britain, Europe and North America. Along the way, he picked up musical influences and songs from traditional musicians in the coastal villages of East Anglia, intriguing and unusual songs from the manuscripts of the Victorian and Edwardian folk song collectors of his native West of England and awards and critical acclaim for his recorded work in 1977 and 1979.
Then, in the 1980’s, he changed focus, settling in Salisbury, in the south of England, where he co-founded Mobile Arts, a mixed media community arts company. Using music, drama, visual arts, oral history and print, Mobile Arts established a reputation for exciting, original work, much of which researched and re-interpreted the musical traditions and customs of the area.
In the 1990’s Chris moved to the midlands and re-emerged onto the folk scene with innovative visual and musical interpretations of English songs and traditions in two shows ‘Sting in the Tale’ and ‘Traveller’s Tales’.
In 2001, as well as solo performing, Chris started working with the Icelandic traditional singer Bára Grímsdóttir, adding the traditional Icelandic instruments, langspil and fiðla to his repertoire. As the duo FUNI they have been performing, recording and broadcasting and teaching in Europe, North America and China as well as Iceland and the UK. In December 2004 they took up residence in Reykjavík where they continue to explore and perform the musical traditions of their two islands, Check out Funi at:
English - Short, first person
I first got really interested in traditional folk music as a teenager, growing up in Somerset in the southwest of England. It set me on a path or should I say paths? that I am still exploring several decades later. It has taken me all over Europe, North America and once, even to China. I have been privileged to meet and hear many great musicians and I have made many friends along the way. It also led to me living in Iceland, where I am one half of the duo Funi, along with my wife Bára Grímsdóttir.
Here in Iceland, as well as making music as a solo and duo artist, I am the programme co-ordinator of the Vaka Folk Arts Festival in Akureyri.
With Bára, I teach a course on Icelandic folk music at the Iceland Arts Academy in Reykjavík, and we regularly travel abroad to perform and lead workshops.
English - Long, first person
I first got really interested in traditional folk music as a teenager. Growing up in Somerset in the southwest of England, I was immediately struck by the idea that there were songs that had been collected from people who had lived within a few miles of where I lived. These songs spoke of my world in my own vernacular language and they had great tunes into the bargain. It set me on a path (or should I say paths?) that I am still exploring several decades later. It has taken me all over Europe, North America and once, even to China. Over the years, I have been privileged to meet and hear many great musicians and I have made many friends along the way.
After I left school, I studied visual arts for five years, finishing up at Chelsea School of Art. On arriving in London I became co-organiser of Dingles Folk Club, when its founder John Kirkpatrick moved to live in the country. We have remained in contact ever since and he plays on my new album Hadelin, released 2017.
When I left art school, I became a full-time folk singer overnight, and over the next eight years I clocked up many thousands of miles of solo touring throughout Britain, Europe and North America. I released two solo albums, Layers and All Things in Common, which were both very well received. In the late 1970s I lived for a while in Suffolk, where I got to know and learn from traditional singers like Jumbo Brightwell who gave me some great songs that I still sing to this day.
In the 1980s, I changed focus, taking up a job at Salisbury Arts Centre and co-founding Mobile Arts, a mixed media community arts company. We used music, drama, visual arts, oral history and print, working with local community groups in the area. Many of these projects included researching and re-interpreting the musical traditions and customs of the area.
In the 1990s I moved to the midlands, continuing my community arts work and also resuming performing, touring visual and musical interpretations of English songs and traditions in two solo shows ‘Sting in the Tale’ and ‘Traveller’s Tales’.
While working on a project for Wren Music in Devon, based on the work of the Victorian / Edwardian folk song collector and polymath Sabine Baring-Gould, I discovered Icelandic folk music and met the Icelandic traditional singer Bára Grímsdóttir. We started working together in 2001, and I added the traditional Icelandic instruments, langspil and fiðla to my kit bag, as well as developing and adapting my guitar style to the modal melodies of Icelandic folk music.
As the duo FUNI we have been performing, broadcasting and teaching in Europe, North America and China as well as Iceland and the UK. In December 2004 we took up residence in Reykjavík where we continue to explore and perform the musical traditions of our two islands. We have released four albums and you can find more information, music and videos at:
Here in Iceland, as well as making music as a solo and duo artist, I am the programme co-ordinator of the Vaka Folk Arts Festival in Akureyri. With Bára, I teach a course on Icelandic folk music at the Iceland Arts Academy in Reykjavík, and we regularly travel abroad to perform and lead workshops.
Contact Chris Foster and Green Man Productions at:
tel: +354 659 1947
Sample tracks from the 2017 album 'Hadelin'
There are more over on the Albums & Videos page
Quotes & Endorsements
Here is a downloadable pdf of the quotes.
Tweet sized quote:
Superbly crafted songs and accompaniments. A distinctive English folk music voice, with accomplished guitar arrangements. A mesmeric performer.
“Chris Foster merits legend status, one of the very best in the second wave of the Brit folk revival, as important as Martin Carthy, Dick Gaughan and Nic Jones in the way he modernised and invested traditional songs with inventive guitar arrangements and potent vocal delivery.” Colin Irwin – fROOTS
His is one of the most distinctive voices in English folk music, totally sure and engaging, with some of the most accomplished and sensitive guitar accompaniments that you are likely to hear. A mesmeric performer.
Vic Smith - Sussex Folk Diary
‘The warm tone of Chris’ voice and his captivating guitar playing draws you into the ancient world of storytelling which links generation to generation, culture to culture and humanity back to its humanity.’
Susan Grace – Burton Mail
Folk Society of Greater Washington, USA
Chris Foster sings traditional English songs in the most compelling way. His easygoing voice grabs your attention and has you following the story, and his wonderful tunes and careful choice of verses in his versions makes attending to his singing a great pleasure. Underneath it, he is one of the most skilful guitar players ever to master the rhythmic English style. His playing is capable of the most inventive riffs, yet it never interferes with the song when it’s time for the words to be overlaid on top of it. Charlie Baum
… I am bowled over. This could be the best album of Chris's long career; thoughtful, passionate, intelligent, nerve-jangling performances.
Vic Smith, The Folk Diary, England
His singing is both immediate and intimate, and conveys more passion and true understanding through its precision of diction and phrasing than many a more superficially emotive rendition, while the hallmark of his guitar work is its accomplished creation and sustaining of the ideal backdrop for the narratives... David Kidman
…His ability as an artist working within the Tradition is to create music whose sense of history is easily matched by an unassuming feel for its current relevance.…There are real riches within this album of earnest, moving songs and I’d cite the version of Cecilia Costello’s majestic night-visiting ballad, ‘The Grey Cock’ as a career highlight. Vital and wonderfully intense.…
This is not wine bar “folk-U-like” – it’s quietly epic, if you didn’t discover Chris Foster first time around, do it now. A potent and satisfying record.
Clive Pownceby - on the BBC website
...Foster performs them in his characteristic style with the typically British guitar accompaniment, in which the melody is played and at the same time harmonies are added. Foster is a true master in this…
…‘Jewels’ is a skilful, honest, warm and sympathetic album with which I hope Foster will finally receive the appreciation that he long since deserves already.
Marius Roeting - New Folk Sounds, Holland
A few more extracts from reviews:
…I’ve always thought Foster’s version of the traditional ‘When a man’s in love’ was one of the best and most sensual on record and this new rendition only serves to confirm that. Once again Foster excels at his interpretative skills in the Leon Rosselson songbag. He manages to get even more out of both the story and the tune of ‘Barney’s Epic Homer’ than the author’s original – no mean feat! It is a pure delight to have Chris Foster back again. Andy Nagy – Sing Out, USA
‘Foster’s new CD ‘Traces’ is essentially just what I’d hoped for….His voice as engaging as ever, and his guitar playing a supportive frame for it. Equally important his choice of songs is exemplary…. Even people who have heard a whole lot of folk revival albums should seek this one out for a fresh perspective.’
Steve Winnick – Dirty Linen, USA
Chris Foster er enskur þjóðlagasöngvari og gítarleikari sem búið hefur á Íslandi síðan 2004. Hann er meistari á sínu sviði. Í tímaritsgrein, eftir Colin Irwin í fROOTS magazine sagði hann m. a.: "Chris Foster er kominn í fremstu röð merkra brautryðjenda, hann er einn besti listamaður síðari tíma hreyfingar til endurvakningar í breskri þjóðlagatónlist, ámóta mikilvægur eins og Martin Carthy, Dick Gaughan og Nic Jones, einkum fyrir sitt merka framlag til að setja þjóðlagahefðina í nútímalegan búning með sérstæðum, frumlegum gítarundirleik svo og sannfærandi söngtúlkun."
Hann hefur gefið út 7 sóló plötur og einnig leikið með öðrum listamönnum á mörgum plötum. Geisladiskurinn hans, ‘OUTSIDERS’ var talin meðal bestu platna ársins 2008, að mati 300 gagnrýnenda og útvarpsfólks, sem birt var í breska tímaritinu fROOTS.
Chris hefur verið flytjandi enskrar þjóðlagatónlistar í yfir fjóra áratugi og komið víða fram á tónleikum, hátíðum og útvarpi á Bretlandseyjum, Evrópu og Norður Ameríku.
Auk sólóferils síns er hann einnig í þjóðlaga dúóinu Funi, með Báru Grímsdóttur og hafa þau unnið saman síðan 2001. Þau hafa gefið út 4 plötur og komið fram á tónleikum, hátíðum, í útvarpi og haldið námskeið í Evrópu, Bandaríkjunum, Kína, auk heimalandanna, Íslands og Bretlands.