The Young Coppers – Passing Out
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The Young Coppers are the new generation of the Copper Family, famous for collecting the folk songs from around their hometown of Rottingdean on Sussex’s south coast. Since the sad death of Bob Copper MBE in 2004, the family have done very few shows. However, now the six children of Bob’s son and daughter, John and Jill Copper, are ready to launch the next leg of the ongoing story of The Copper Family.
- Hard Times Of Old England
- Dame Durden
- The Irish Girl (As I Walked Out)
- Come Write Me Down
- Charming Molly
- Brisk And Lively Lad
- Rose Of Allendale
- Pleasant Month Of May
- Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy
- Come All Bold Britons
- Cupid’s Garden
- Banks Of The Sweet Primroses
The Young Coppers are the seventh generation of a family of harmony singers from Rottingdean, Sussex. We are Bob Coppers six grandchildren, Mark, Andy and Sean Barratt and Ben, Lucy and Tom Copper. The Copper Family traces its roots back to 1593 in the Sussex village of Rottingdean where an entry in the first extant Parish register records a marriage. The Family singing tradition can be traced back to the 18th Century at least. The Coppers were always renowned as singers in the village and the Copper menfolk, largely comprising farm labourers, carters, ploughmen and shepherds were always in demand at sing-songs, pubs, harvest suppers and seasonal celebratory events around the farms and villages. The womenfolk sang too but social conditions dictated that their contributions did not stray as far as licensed premises and theirs was rather a domestic stage with Christmas being the central point for party pieces. The land and specifically the Sussex Downland was always the backdrop to the family music and a deep love of the surrounding countryside is never far away from many songs in the repertoire. Songs in celebration of their everyday work and the pride taken in it. These men loved their songs and for many years, indeed up until the mid 20th century they were handed down through the oral tradition.
The Coppers have been renowned for their harmony singing, unusual in the English Tradition and clearly church-derived; this fact was noted when the Brothers Tom and James (Brasser) Copper were first collected by Mrs Kate Lee in 1898. The two were made honorary founder members of the Folk Song Society in 1899 (later to become the English Folk Dance and Song Society) the fact of which they found singularly uninteresting! The lean years of the 1920s and 30s saw the singing torch being carried by Jim Copper (born 1882) and his brother John. Post-war the Coppers were discovered again by Francis Collinson and the BBC after Jim heard a version of one of the Family songs being performed on the BBC programme Country Magazine – so began the Family s part in the second folk song revival right through the 1950s, 60s and into the modern age. This time Jim’s son Bob Copper was the champion of the family tradition and recordings of him and his cousin Ron Copper proved to be a seminal influence on many English revival folk singers. Bob’s book about the family history and songs, A Song for Every Season was published to great literary acclaim in 1971 and won the prestigious Robert Pitman literary award. Bob and Ron were joined by Bob’s son John and daughter Jill and performed as such until Ron’s untimely death in 1978. Without Ron’s resonant bass voice, John stepped into the roll and the songs were performed all over the UK and even taken several times to the USA.
Sadly Bob passed away in March 2004 at the grand age of 89 years and left an unfillable gap, but determined that the tradition should never die, John, Jill and Jon (Jill s husband) are now joined by up to six of Bob’s grandchildren, Mark, Andy, Sean, Ben, Lucy and Tom, thus making seven consecutive generations of Coppers to sing the family songs.