The Johnson Girls (Joy
Bennett, Alison Kelley, Bonnie Milner, and Deirdre Murtha) are renowned
international performers of maritime music: powerful chanteys,
hair-raising harmonies, lilting ballads and laments. Each member of the
group brings a specialty and style to the ensemble.
has been involved in folk music for most of her life. As a member of
the quartet Water Sign for 13 years and the all female a capella group,
The Johnson Girls, for the past 15 years, she has explored the
close-knit harmonies of both traditional and contemporary folk music.
Joy has performed solo, with Water Sign, the Johnson Girls, with Chris
Koldewey, and with guest artists in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and across
Europe. She served on the board of FMSNY for many years, ten of them as
president. Joy is a member of The Johnson Girls.
grew up singing traditional music as a chantey brat at South Street
Seaport. Bitten by the music bug, she joined her elementary, junior
high and high school choruses and hasn’t stopped singing since.
Alison’s diverse repertoire includes sea chanties and maritime music,
worksongs, gospel, blues, Ladino, troubadour and medieval music,
ballads, English, Irish, and Scottish songs, rock, American roots music
and whatever else inspires her. She occasionally accompanies herself
with “The Banshee”, her claw hammer banjo. Alison is committed to
keeping traditional music alive. She leads the open sing in Brooklyn,
N.Y. on the first Wednesday of each month. Alison is a member of The
Bonnie Milner has a lifetime interest in
folk music that began with songs from Sandburg’s American Song Bag. Her
interest in sea songs was sparked by hearing chanteys at South Street
and Mystic Seaports, and grew with her friendship with the last working
chanteyman, Stan Hugill, and collector William Main Doerflinger.
Founding an all-woman group in this genre was a particular dream of
hers. Bonnie has put together presentations on maritime music for
students of all ages. Another interest is unaccompanied ballads,
through field recordings, trips abroad, and her in-house source,
husband Dan Milner. She loves and respects the old singers and
cherishes their enduring styles. Bonnie dances with N.Y.-based Ring
o’Bells Morris team and is a member of The Johnson Girls.
has been singing all her life. In her musical family, singalongs were a
normal part of family gatherings. From choirs, madrigal groups,
musicals, and folk genres, she learned the joys of harmonizing with
others and prefers it to singing solo. She sang in school groups, a
folk rock band, the NYC Irish sessions, and an Irish band. She
performed in Revels, where she met other members of The Johnson Girls
and N.Y. Packet, with whom she’s been singing for 15 years. She and
husband Sean play as a duo, Strange Potatoes, performing Irish
traditional, old-time American and Appalachian, Colonial,
Revolutionary, and Civil War songs. Deirdre hosts a monthly Chantey
Sing in Connecticut, and is pleased that it is drawing out new singers.
She also loves to sing jazz standards, and aspires to be in a jazz band
someday. By day she is a preschool music teacher. Deirdre is a member
of The Johnson Girls.
to Main Eisteddfod Page
rev. 10/26/12: Web
page problems, broken links, etc: Don
Wade (at) donwade.us