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Walker, Sarah


(b Cheltenham, 11 March 1943). English mezzo-soprano. After studying in London she appeared with the Ambrosian Singers, then made her solo début in 1970 as Octavia with Kent Opera, adding Poppea, Penelope and Andromache (King Priam) for that company. Dido in Les Troyens for Scottish Opera followed in 1972, and a variety of roles for the ENO, among them Dorabella, Fricka, an eloquent Mary Stuart, a compelling Countess (Queen of Spades), a moving Cornelia (Giulio Cesare) and an imperious Elizabeth I (Gloriana), all of which displayed her as a singing-actress of significant presence. Among her most vivid Covent Garden parts, following her 1979 début as Charlotte, were Baba the Turk and Mrs Sedley, both of which she has recorded. Walker's other roles have included Madame Larina and Filipyevna (Yevgeny Onegin) and Mistress Quickly. Her appreciable career in recital has encompassed lieder, mélodies and British song, to each of which she has brought her gift for deft characterization, based on verbal acuity and dramatic immediacy, qualities that have informed her operatic appearances and her many recordings. She was made a CBE in 1991.

ALAN BLYTH


Walker, T-Bone [Aaron Thibeaux]


(b Linden, TX, 28 May 1910; d Los Angeles, 17 March 1975). American blues singer and guitarist. As a youth he accompanied the blues singer Ida Cox, and at the age of 19, under the name of Oak Cliff T-Bone, made his first recording, Wichita Falls Blues (1929, Col.) which showed an indebtedness to Blind Lemon Jefferson. In the early 1930s he travelled widely working in medicine shows, and in 1934 moved to California. He appeared with great success in Les Hite’s orchestra in 1939–40, and with Hite made his second recording, as a singer, the well-known T-Bone Blues (1940, BN). Between 1940 and the late 1960s he toured frequently as a soloist; he began recording regularly from 1945, making a large number of recordings of rhythm and blues.

A self-taught instrumentalist, he took up the amplified guitar after hearing Les Paul on that instrument, and developed electric guitar techniques in blues contemporaneously with Charlie Christian in jazz. His Call it Stormy Monday (1947, Cap.) was a seminal modern blues to small-group accompaniment. Walker was generally supported by a band, which compensated for his thin voice and allowed him to extemporize on the guitar. Too Much Trouble Blues (1947, Cap.) and Alimony Blues (1951, Imper.) are characteristic of his style, with their witty lyrics and vibrant, rapid guitar phrases. The strength of his orchestras sometimes threatened to dominate him, but re-recordings of his best-known blues, Stormy Monday and Mean Old World (both 1956, Atl.), show his work to advantage. His deft execution greatly influenced the transition from folk to virtuoso blues playing. The arpeggio style of Jefferson, Rambling Thomas and other Texas acoustic guitarists was elaborated in Walker’s single-string work on the amplified instrument. The electric guitar enabled him to make clearly defined, elaborate improvisations even at fast tempos, as can be heard on his outstanding Strollin’ with Bones (1950, Imper.). Walker thus linked the Texas folk tradition with modern blues as exemplified by the work of B.B. King, who was much influenced by him.


BIBLIOGRAPHY


SouthernB

J. and A. O’Neal: ‘Interview with T-Bone Walker’, Living Blues (1972–3), no.11, 20–26; no.12 (1973), 24–7

A. Shaw: Honkers and Shouters: the Golden Years of Rhythm and Blues (New York, 1978)

H.O. Dance: Stormy Monday: the T-Bone Walker Story (Baton Rouge, LA, 1987)

PAUL OLIVER


Walker, William


(b nr Cross Keys, SC, 6 May 1809; d Spartanburg, SC, 24 Sept 1875). American composer and tune book compiler. His first and most famous tune book Southern Harmony (New Haven, CT, 1835, 5/1854R) was published in four-shape notation (see Shape-note hymnody, fig.1). A tune book rich in folk hymnody, Southern Harmony was the first collection to publish several well-known folk hymns, including Amazing Grace with its now-familiar tune ‘New Britain’, and was perhaps the most popular tune book in the South before the Civil War. Walker’s second tune book, intended as a supplement to Southern Harmony, was the Southern and Western Pocket Harmonist (Philadelphia, 1846); it included a greater number of revival spirituals. Following the Civil War, Walker, under the influence of Lowell Mason and others, changed to a seven-shape note system of his own invention for his Christian Harmony (Philadelphia, 1867, 2/1872/R); it included more European music and more pieces by Mason and his followers. Walker’s last collection, Fruits and Flowers (Philadelphia, 1873), was designed for children. Southern Harmony and Christian Harmony remain in use in singing conventions in the South.

BIBLIOGRAPHY


G.P. Jackson: White Spirituals in the Southern Uplands (Chapel Hill, NC, 1933/R)

H.L. Eskew: The Life and Work of William Walker, 1809–1875 (thesis, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, 1960)

A.M. Smoak jr.: William Walker’s ‘The Southern Harmony’ (1835) (thesis, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1975)

HARRY ESKEW


Walker Brothers, the.


American pop vocal group. Its members were Gary Leeds (b Glendale, CA, 3 Sept 1944), John Walker (John Maus; b New York City, 12 Nov 1943) and Scott Walker (Noel Scott Engel; b Hamilton, OH, 9 Jan 1944). The trio was formed in Hollywood before moving to London in 1964, and over the following three years they performed extensively throughout Britain and continental Europe. They recorded a series of hit singles which generally featured the smooth baritone of Scott Walker and lush string arrangements by Johnny Franz which recalled those of Phil Spector. Their hit songs – all composed by American writers – included Love her (1965, by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil), Make it easy on yourself and Another tear falls (1965 and 1966, by Burt Bacharach and Hal David), My ship is coming in (1966, Joey Brooks) and The sun ain't gonna shine anymore (1965, Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio). The group split up in 1967 but reunited in 1975 when they recorded a further hit, No Regrets by Tom Rush. Scott Walker made a number of critically acclaimed solo recordings including versions of songs by Jacques Brel as well as albums of his own compositions.

DAVE LAING




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