Eliza Carthy, MBE (born 23 August 1975 is an English folk musician known for both singing and playing fiddle. She is the daughter of English folk musicians singer/guitarist Martin Carthy and singer Norma Waterson.
Carthy was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England. She went to school at Fyling Hall School in North Yorkshire.
At the age of thirteen Carthy formed the Waterdaughters with her mother, aunt (Lal Waterson) and cousin Marry Waterson. She has subsequently worked with Nancy Kerr, with her parents as Waterson–Carthy, and as part of the "supergroup" Blue Murder, in addition to her own solo work.
She has twice been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize for UK album of the year: in 1998 for Red Rice, and again in 2003 for Anglicana. Carthy was a guest on the album Mermaid Avenue by Billy Bragg and Wilco. Eliza and Billy also recorded together on the song "My Father's Mansions" which appeared on the Pete Seeger tribute album called Where Have All The Flowers Gone (1998).
In September 2002, Carthy took part in the tribute concert for Kirsty MacColl, "The Song's the Thing" along with other artists.
In 2003, Carthy swept the boards at the Radio 2 Folk Awards, winning 'Folk Singer of the Year', 'Best Album' (for Anglicana) and 'Best Traditional Track' (for "Worcester City", on the album Anglicana). She was also the first traditional English musician to be nominated for a BBC Radio 3 Award for World Music in the same year (for Anglicana).
In 2004, she was part of Oysterband Big Session, a collaboration with numerous folk artists brought together by Oysterband. They produced an album The Big Session Volume One, and the group as a whole were awarded Best Group at the Folk Awards in 2005. On 29 May 2005, Carthy took part in a tribute to Peggy Seeger at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London. A double CD Three Score and Ten (2007) contains highlights of the concert.
Eliza Carthy performing with The Imagined Village at Camp Bestival – 20 July 2008 In 2006, she contributed three songs (one as lead vocalist, two as backing vocalist) to Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys, produced by Hal Willner. Performing as a duo with Richard Thompson, she contributed "The Coo Coo Bird" to a boxed set called The Harry Smith Project (2006) also by Hal Willner. As a duo with Bob Neuwirth, she sang "I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground" by Bascom Lamar Lunsford on the same boxed set.
Dreams of Breathing Underwater, Carthy's second collection of self penned songs was released on 23 June 2008. Combining traditional instrumentation with experimental arrangements, and drawing influences from all aspects of her career so far, the album was conceived as the follow-up to 2000s Angels and Cigarettes and has been in the making for the best part of seven years.
Carthy's 2008 tour was cancelled in November, as a cyst on her throat made singing inconsistent and painful. Because of her pregnancy, doctors delayed treatment until spring 2009. She became a mother to Florence Daisy on 24 December 2008.
The St George's Day Celebrations in Trafalgar Square on 25 April 2009 were opened by Carthy who performed two songs.
In 2010, Carthy released an album of collaborations with her mother entitled Gift. A BBC reviewer wrote: "The gift in question here, one gathers, is a handing of talent from generation to generation; Norma Waterson and Eliza Carthy are, after all, the sublimely gifted mother and daughter who make up part of British folk’s great dynasty." Commenting on the final song, "Shallow Brown", the reviewer noted: "Backed variously by other family members, including Eliza’s father Martin Carthy on guitar as well as her cousin Oliver Knight on electric guitar, vocals and cello, there is a real sense of congregation and rootedness about this song, and indeed this record as a whole. Long may the dynasty flourish."
Her second daughter, Isabella Mary, was born on 26 November 2010.
In May 2012, a biography of Eliza Carthy written by Sophie Parkes and titled Wayward Daughter was published by Soundcheck Books.
In 2014, she was awarded the honour of an MBE for services to folk music in the Queen's Birthday Honours. The same year she also marked the 50th anniversary of Towersey Festival and the 75th anniversary of Topic Records with a celebratory concert at the festival, for which she was Musical Director. Discussing the event with Folk Radio UK she said: "Me and my family have long been associated with Towersey Festival and Topic Records and I have great affection for both. Towersey gave me my first ever solo gig, as Topic gave me my first ever solo record ..."