"An artist keeping traditional styles alive in a way that remains accessible & exciting for the modern listener"
DAVE FRANKLIN, DANCING WITH ARCHITECTURE
Lewis is an Irish/English singer songwriter, musician and educator who works with an uncomplicated loveliness of sound, blending ethereal, evocative vocals with original compositions and reinventions of traditional songs from across Ireland and the UK. A pioneer of Folk, Lewis is a timeless and gifted storyteller who captivates listeners with her fearless lyrics, gorgeous otherworldly voice, and satisfying arrangements. Frequently compared to the likes of Ane Brun, Kate Rusby and Julie Fowlis. Her debut album, Glenaphuca released on 5th March 2021 has received great support from RTÉ 1, FRUK, BBC Radio Ulster and RTÉ na Gaeltachta.
"Barfoot’s voice, deft guitar-work and her perceptive songs blend magically to create an album to curl up with, and be thankful for" - Jackie Hayden - Music Writer, Hot Press
Prior to Glenaphuca Lewis released Catch Me, a 5 track EP in 2016 and two singles; Wise Owl (2017) and Hecate (2018). Before her solo work she sang in Irish in the folk ensemble Rún, playing at Glastonbury, The Union Chapel and folk festivals across the UK and releasing two EP's with them Beidh Aonach Amárach and Seo is Siud.
Lewis describes Glenaphuca as a folk prayer to the ancestors and is an album rich with evocative, autobiographical songs that speak of Lewis’ wish to unearth the legacy of her family roots in Ireland. Named after her Grandmother’s farm in East Cork, now an abandoned stone site weathered by neglect and home to birds, briers and lost memories, Glenaphuca sings straight to the wounds held by the maternal lineages of Ireland. Profound and poignant Lewis pays homage to her Irish roots and the women who came before her. "A prayer to their lives and a liberation of the suffering they went to the grave with". Lewis balances compassionate musings and reflections on life, death and loss with the deepest grace. In the elegiac lament for Lewis’s mother White Dress, she ponders life after death, with The Fox and Twa Corbies she honours the natural cycles of death in nature and in Transmission Complete she celebrates dying how you wish to die. Elsewhere in Ballinatray, Lewis gives voice to the untold story of the women in her family in Cork whose had been incarcerated, silenced and shamed at the hands of the church and state.
Glenaphuca was produced by Lewis at Soup Studios in London with Giles Barrett and was mastered by Pete Maher. Glenaphuca features guest musicians Elisabeth Flett (Fiddle, Backing Vocals) Matt Dibble (Clarinet, Piano), Hannah Thomas (Cello, Backing Vocals), Maria Rodriguez Reina (Cello on White Dress), Ansuman Biswas (Percussion) and Jonny Huddersfield Helm (Drums). Having previously performed alongside Bróna McVittie in Rún, Lewis has since cut her teeth as a solo artist on the London folk circuit, appearing regularly for institutions such as Nest Collective. Lewis has recently moved back to her maternal home of Ireland and is happily settled in Cork.
THE EARLY YEARS
Born in Walthamstow, London to an Irish Mum and English Dad on the edge of Epping Forest Lewis spent her weekends romping through the woods with her Dad and siblings; identifying leaves, making plaster casts of animal footprints, collecting stones and making an ally of the natural world. She grew up listening to her Dad play fingerpicking folk covers on guitar and banjo and her Mum’s record collection which comprised of Joan Baez, The Beatles Sergeant Pepper, Peer Gynt and The Dubliners. It would be fair to say that the folk music, close harmonies and undercurrents of Calypso in Bagpuss also influenced Lewis as a child.
After Thorpe Hall primary School she went to Bancroft’s before reading medicine at Southampton. In the first week of Uni she wanted to leave to read drama but this wasn’t an option so she joined the theatre group and found creative solace for five years. She started her medical career at RUH in Bath, where in-spite of working a 100hr week she sang in the hospital band and regularly played function gigs across Bath. She went on to work a further four years in medicine, singing in covers bands, playing at balls, weddings and clubs before leaving medicine to train at The Academy of Live and Recorded Arts in London.
Her first professional job was playing Macbeth opposite Andi Osho as Lady Macbeth in a spoof musical version of Macbeth at the Edinburgh Festival. She swiftly worked her way up the theatrical ranks in fringe, regional theatre, West End and International theatre. Playing Queen Isabel opposite Kevin Spacey in Richard II with the Old Vic’s first international tour. By 2009 she was writing songs in most productions she performed in, including the opening number for Cyrano which she toured for 3 months across America with Aquila Theatre. Her debut solo show The History of the Pomegranate in 2010, funded by the Arts Council UK combined live looped sound worlds, song, movement and theatre and triggered her interest in working creatively with myths. She has been deeply influenced and inspired by the power of myth and archetypes ever since.
In 2013 she toured to 21 countries with 1927’s 'Animals and Children Took To The Streets'. To keep herself creatively alive in heart and soul she wrote a song in every country and this gave birth to her career as a musician and songwriter.