Kathryn’s MAD for it

Fine voice: Kathryn Roberts
Fine voice: Kathryn Roberts
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KATHRYN Roberts has been singing for as long as she can remember. But her voice hasn’t been heard much for the last few years.

That’s because she has been busy being a mum. In fact, she’s been doubly busy, raising twin girls, Poppy and Lily, born in 2007.

Today, though, she is back in music-making mode and back on the road, visiting South Yorkshire on the way. With partner Sean Lakeman she will be performing at the Music and Dance Festival at Elsecar Heritage Centre next Saturday, September 3.

Kathryn originally embarked on a career alongside singing partner Kate Rusby (they are both Barnsley lasses and had folk-loving parents - it wasn’t rocket science).

In September of 1994 they set out on a tour of Portugal and asked the Lakeman Brothers (Sean, Sam and Seth) to accompany them as a backing band.

On their return to the UK the five agreed to form a permanent band and folk-popster outfit Equation was born.

Cara Dillon replaced Kate Rusby in the summer of 1995, around the same time that they signed a record deal with Blanco y Negro (part of Warner Music Group) and recorded an album at Peter Gabriel’s Realworld Studios over the following winter.

After the album’s release, Cara also left, handing over sole responsibility for lead vocals to Kathryn.

Equation made four albums and two EPs and have enjoyed considerable success, particularly in the USA where they worked almost continuously for five years.

But with so much talent within one outfit it was inevitable that their creative paths would head off in different directions. Kathryn and Sean, her partner (in both a musical and personal meaning) embarked on a career as a duo.

Meanwhile, Sean continued to tour in brother Seth’s band.

As a member of Seth’s touring band Sean has played at the highest level all over Europe breaking down boundaries and winning over legions of fans with a commitment and energy seldom seen from a folk band. So after a decade of relentless touring Kathryn and Sean decided to return to their English roots and gig as an acoustic duo. Two albums and several tours of UK folk clubs swiftly cemented a formidable reputation.

Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman will be appearing at MADFest, a music and dance festival being staged next Friday to Sunday at Elsecar Heritage Centre.

The couple are appearing on stage on Saturday.

Also on the bill will be Turin Brakes and Outside Track. Tickets are £15.

On Friday, the festival kicks off with a concert feturing Sheffield’s own boy on a Dolphin plus Ay Ducanne and Rodney Branigan. Tickets are also £15.

On Sunday, star performer will be Barbara Dickson. Also on the bill are Amy Wadge and Pete Riley.

Tickets are £25. A weekend ticket costs £45. Call 01226 327000 or 01226 740203.

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The Mystery Inch (Proper Records, PRCD30), is nothing short of stunning. The dexterity and touch defy you not to be smiling at the end of it all.