As a member of the Watersons, her influence on the folk scene has been immense and, as a solo singer or working with her daughter, Eliza and husband, Martin Carthy, she has produced a body of work that is both a celebration of the richness of folk song and an example to other, younger singers.
I once asked Norma why she liked folk songs so much and she said that the songs were like old furniture, they had been touched by many hands and, just as furniture gets a patina over the years from people touching it, so the songs have the marks of other hands and other voices.
Like all great singers she is more than just a voice and a deep vein runs through her which connects past generations with the present. I often use the word ‘carrier’ when I’m talking about a great singer of traditional songs and this applies most strongly in Norma’s case. Without artifice or conceit, she takes the songs, makes them hers for a while and then sends them on, in celebration, out into the world again. It is a great gift.