Door 2: Bridget St. John
During the late 1960s and early 1970s the British folk scene was very active. Key players were bands like Fairport Convention or The Incredible String Band or solo artists like John Martyn, Nick Drake, Al Stewart or Bert Jansch. At that time female lead singers were common, but not solo artist. This makes the career of British singer Bridget St. John even more astonishing. The legendary Radio-DJ John Peel described her as "the best lady singer-songwriter in the country". A more accurate summary comes from the author Sam Brumbaugh: "As if Nico possessed desire".
Bridget St. John was born in 1946 in Surrey in South-East England into a musically-interested family. There was a lot of opera records and her mother helped a blind pianist with his music. At the wish of her mother she played the piano until the age of eleven, but did not like her teacher. After that she took viola lessons for two years. This was not fruitful either, as the teacher soon realized she rather would play the guitar, as she held the viola like one. Shortly before her move to university her grandmother gave her 20 pounds and she went to buy her first guitar.
During her childhood and adolescence her rather deep and husk voice made her stand out and was told to stop singing in school. In multiple interviews she mentions Helen Shapiro's 1961 hit song "Don't Treat Me Like A Child" as crucial for her, because she realized there is no need for her to sing high. Also her interest in writing poems began way before she began writing music and accompanying her lyrics musically.
At Sheffield University she was drawn to the theater group. There she learned to play by watching her friends play and getting taught by them. Around this time she also had her first gigs in various pubs around Sheffield. In 1967 she had to do an exchange-term in Aix-en-Provence, France, where she met American singer-songwriter Robin Frederick. It was through her that Bridget St. John got to know John Martyn in the summer of 1967, who had a deep impact on her stylistically.
Also he helped her record her first demo, which was then through another friend, Pete Roche, presented to John Peel, who immediately was fascinated by her music. John set up his label Dandelion Records to present Bridget's music. Her first album "Ask Me No Questions" was produced by him and took only 10 hours to record.
Her second album "Songs for the Gentle Man" was released in 1972 and produced by Ron Geesin, who helped Pink Floyd record their seminal "Atom Heart Mother" album the year before. St. John's wish with this choice was to personally influence the production more than on the first record. The third and last album released on John Peel's Dandelion record label was "Thank You For..."
After her last album in 1974 "Jumble Queen", released on Chrysalis, she moved to Greenwich Village, New York in 1976 and went off the radar for nearly 20 years. She started to play again in the middle of the 90s and became increasingly popular over the last years more than 40 years after her records were released.