The Mediaeval Baebes are not only unique, but they have a long-standing connection to Sussex’s own Loxwood Joust where you may have been lucky enough to see them perform. And this Christmas they are performing at St Mary’s Church Horsham on the 20th December as part of their national Christmas tour.
If you haven’t come across the Mediaeval Baebes before, their music can be described as an experience like no other! They formed in 1996, and their first gig was in a derelict church. They handed out flyers and lit the way with tea lights. Gig goers had to climb through a hole in the fence to get there.
It was all part of their slightly irreverent, slightly Gothicesque adventure-seeking back then which also included breaking into Boudicca’s Grave (a fenced-off area of Hampstead Heath) and playing in the full wrath of a thunderstorm. But don’t be fooled by these antics, because as a band they are unbelievably talented and successful.
As a group, they’ve produced 10 studio albums, won an Ivor Novella Award for their performance on the BBC serialisation “The Virgin Queen” and received two Emmy nominations and a Royal Television Society award as the featured artist alongside composer Martin Phipps for the theme tune of ITV’s hit TV show “Victoria”. But that still doesn’t really do them justice. Because they are, quite simply, unique.
Their music is hard to sum up. Their genre is best described as an ensemble of female musicians who perform a mixture of medieval and folk music but that really (really) doesn’t do them justice. Their music is haunting, romantic, ethereal, evocative, emotive, spellbinding and utterly atmospheric. It quite simply lifts you from wherever you are and transports you back through the centuries to another time and place like almost no other experience.
Katherine Blake is a founding member, as well as a singer, and musical director of the group. She writes most of the material and she simply oozes with energy and a sense of fun and charm. When I caught up with her recently I wanted to know more about her how and her why.
“When I’m writing new material, I’ve got a large library of ancient poetry books and I scroll through them until something catches my eye. Working in an ancient language such as medieval Spanish, Italian or Welsh adds something – a touch of mystery, depth of character. I work with a specialist in whatever language I’m writing in. Ancient texts have something fantastical about them too, a mixture of mythology, romance and history which make them compelling – a bit like the Game of Thrones, it just draws you in. It’s a period in time that was dark, philosophical and yet romantic too.”
Katherine has fairy tale youthful looks so hard as it is to believe this is a 25-year anniversary tour. It’s billed as including exotic and period instruments, traditional folksongs, as well as more familiar material, such as their classic anthology of Christmas Carols “Of Kings and Angels”.
You can book tickets here: https://www.mediaevalbaebes.com/live