Lemmie Brazil

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Lemmie (Lementina) Brazil: was one of the 15 children of William and Priscilla Brazil.  They travelled in Southern England and Lemmie was born "outside Southampton in Devonshire", following which the family moved over to Ireland where they travelled for 27 years.

When the family returned to England, they came to Gloucester.  Their father sold all his horses at Gloucester market, after which they dealt in rags and scrap iron, whilst the children made a living with cars and trucks.  Lemmie had a second-hand shop in Gloucester's Westgate Street.

Lemmie said "I've been to every town in Ireland.  We used to stop for a week, sometimes two, then move on." The family lived in two horse-drawn wagons, with the parents in one and the children in the other.  Lemmie and her seven sisters used to ride the horses to the fairs, and then hold them while they were being sold.  "Over there we used to go down the pub, have a sing, get drunk and sing down the road on the way home.  They don't do that round here.  They don't know how to enjoy themselves."

Lemmie had some unusual songs - songs which the others in the family didn't sing - The Cruel Mother was one of hers, as well as Bonny Black Hare, Little Sir Hugh and Shot Like a Bird on a Tree.  She was also a great melodeon player.

The use of the first few bars of a familiar tune as the launching pad for something quite different is typical of Lemmie's approach to her material, but unlike many other fine traditional English musicians she doesn't make do with repetitive rhythmic phrases when she doesn't have part of a tune, but extrapolates new melodic phrases.  Thanks to her natural musicality, her innate understanding of her repertoire and genre, and her preference for certain intervals these are often more interesting than the 'missing' phrases.  Although a free treatment of melody is common among traditional musicians in England, it is usually the product of rhythmic invention or dittography, and genuine melodic invention like Lemmie's is rare.

She was recorded by Peter Shepheard, Mike Yates, and Gwilym Davies, and many of her songs and tunes can be heard on the Musical Traditions 3-CD set The Brazil Family: Down by the Old Riverside (MTCD345-7).

--RodStradling 13:12, 1 June 2007 (BST)

Also, Albums

Various - Travellers : Songs,Stories and Tunes from English Gypsies ‎(LP, Album) Topic Records 12TS395 1985

Various - My Father's The King Of The Gypsies. Music Of English & Welsh Travellers & Gypsies. ‎(CD, Album, Comp) Topic Records TSCD661 1998

God Killed the Devil O, Harvest Home, Smile A While, Irish Hornpipe Stepdance 1&2, Irish Jig, Three Tunes, Devil O, Various tunes, Irish Hornpipe Stepdance 2

Various - Boshamengro -English Gypsy Musicians -Musical Traditions (MTCD373) [1]

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