Phoebe Smith, English Gypsy singer, born 1913, died 8 November 2001.
Born 1913 in Tanner Street, Faversham, Kent, Phoebe was the the youngest of twenty-one children. Her parents Bill Scamp and Ann (nee Jones) had ceased to travel, but did seasonal work; she spent much of her early life picking fruit in Kent. She married Joe Smith, a scrap dealer, and moved with him around Kent and Essex before settling in Woodbridge, Suffolk. Phoebe learnt many of her songs as a young girl from her elder sisters. Her uncle, Oliver Scamp, a Kentish horse-dealer, was also an important source of songs. Joe Smith played the fiddle and Phoebe loved to step-dance to her husband's music.
In the early 1950s the BBC recorded some songs from one of Phoebe's brothers, Charlie Scamp. Charlie mentioned Phoebe's name and that is how she came to the attention of the 'outside' world.
Photo of Phoebe Smith (Mike Yates / Veteran Records)