Rock solid, Margaret’s voice is right where it needs to be, whether delivering a clarion call for social justice, a tender lullaby, a lively or poignant folk tale, an uplifting hymn to Mother Earth, a rousing work song of the yardarm or an up-yours from a feisty lass. Margaret usually sings unaccompanied, favouring the folk tradition and some select contemporary writers. She has been involved in the Australian folk scene for over thirty years, as a soloist, a collaborator with songwriter John Warner, and a member of various duos and the Roaring Forties. She has recorded several albums.
Margaret Walters first realized her passion for folk songs in Brisbane in the early sixties when the music from the “folk boom” coincided with her hearing a field recording of Child ballads, and experiencing live folk music at the Brisbane Folk Centre. But it was many years before she sang in public and then the catalyst was a period of living in England where, for the first time, she heard live unaccompanied folk singing.
Her distinctive tones are heralded from Redfern to Redditch, from Maleny to Maidenhead and Maine, and her latest album, Power in a Song, has received high praise.
Visits to England (including tours in ’92, ’94, and ’98) keep reinforcing Margaret’s taste for finger in the ear, but she enjoys many styles of folk singing including the blues. She has an extensive repertoire and sings songs from Australia, the British Isles and a few American songs as well. Major influences are Frankie Armstrong, Peter Bellamy, Jez Lowe, and John Warner.
For the Future and the Past is the title of Margaret’s first CD (1990). She has contributed songs and/or harmonies to many albums over the years, most importantly her work with John Warner (see below). Her new solo album, Power in a Song, has special guests Nancy Kerr, James Fagan, Kim Poole, John Warner, and others. It came out April 2003 and includes many traditional songs and also songs by John Warner, Jez Lowe, and other writers imbued with the tradition.
Solo workshop themes concern: convicts, colonial women in Australia, feisty damsels wherever, songs about working lives, peace, animals, the supernatural, unrequited love, shanties, and empowering chorus songs. These all invite audience participation through call and response, choruses and harmony.
In the ten years 1993-2003, Margaret worked with songwriter John Warner in a duo known as Walters & Warner. They collaborated on many successful projects, some of which culminated in the CDs Pithead in the Fern and Who Was Here? They also produced the remarkable song and verse cycle, “Yarri of Wiradjuri”, and several other memorable thematic presentations such as “Bread Broom and Bucket”, and “Here’s to the People of All Trades”. It was a very creative and formidable partnership, but both are now seeking new directions and Walters & Warner are no longer performing as duo, although both remain members of the Roaring Forties.
A folk activist, Margaret has been a constant source of energy on the Sydney folk scene, facilitating, organising, hosting, guiding, publicising, sharing, supporting in a hundred ways both local and international artists.