Fisherman's Friends bring Cornish Shanty to the masses

Fisherman's Friends bring Cornish Shanty to the masses

Multinational record company signs £1 million album deal with a group of Cornish fishermen singing traditional sailormen songs.

Port Isaac, a small and picturesque fishing village on the Celtic Sea in North Cornwall. For the past 15 years, a group of ten local men have been getting together to sing traditional sailormen songs known as Sea Shanties.

All the men attended the same school, grew up in the same village, and still live within a mile from one another. Now in their 50s, all of them work, or worked, on the sea as fishermen, coastguards or lifeboatmen.

Most Friday evenings in summer, the men meet in the old harbour to sing their traditional Sea Shanties to passersby, many of them tourists.

One evening, a producer from the world's biggest recording company happened to be in the crowd. A few weeks later, the Fisherman's Friends signed a £1 million album deal with Universal, the same record company that has artists such as U2, Eminem and Lady Gaga.

Port Isaac's Fisherman's Friends, as they are now commercially known, released their album with Universal in spring 2010. Recorded in the 15th century Parish Church of St Kew near Port Isaac, their new album features both shanties and other Cornish folk songs.

Sea Shanties, traditional sailormen songs

Shanty or Sea Shanties -from the word "Chant"- is a type of traditional sailormen songs. They were originally sung by seamen while they performed their work on deck. Sea Shanties were typically shouted out by a lead singer with the rest of the men joining in on the chorus. Shanties often helped to synchronise teamwork as the words of the chorus usually coincided with a heave or a pull.

The Fisherman's Friends have already been on prime-time TV in some countries and their records are now sold all around the world.

However, while most bands would embark on promotional tours, the Fisherman's Friends will stay at Port Isaac as they say they have jobs to do.

Band founding member Jeremy Brown still fishes most days from March until Autumn. Another band member, Jon Cleave, has his shop The Boathouse where he sells among other things children's stories written by himself.

But even if Port Isaac's Fisherman's Friends will not be performing near you in New York, Berlin or Tokyo, fans of the Cornish band can still watch the ten sea shanty men singing live in Port Isaac's old harbour every Friday evening in summer, just like they have been doing for the past 15 years.

[CD]  Port Isaac's Fisherman's Friends[CD] Port Isaac's Fisherman's Friends
The album, recorded in a 15th-century church in nearby St Kew, features a rich haul of 12 songs from their Port Isaac repertoire, including the classic "South Australia", the haunting Cornish robber ballad "The Cadgwith Anthem" and the beautiful "Brightly Beams".
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Celtic Countries is the online magazine for people who enjoy the Celtic nations, their natural splendour, culture, and lifestyles.

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