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Isla Cameron

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Isla Cameron (c. 1930 - 1980) was a Scottish singer and actress. She was, for much of the 1950s, a singing partner of Ewan MacColl. In her time she was one of Britain’s most popular woman folk singers, performing regularly in clubs throughout the British Isles. Her pioneering work in the 1950s paved the way for such figures as Sandy Denny and opened English folk music to a wider audience than it had been perceived as having.

Isla Cameron was born in Scotland but was brought up in Dorset and Somerset. While trying to become an actress she joined Joan Littlewood who had co-founded the Theatre Workshop in 1945. Joan’s husband at the time, Ewan MacColl was to become Isla’s singing partner for much of the 50s.

During 1953-4, Peter Kennedy produced a series of Sunday morning BBC radio programs called “As I Roved Out”. Two of these were later issued on the Folktrax label, with Isla singing three folk songs, Seamus Ennis playing uilliann pipes and tin whistle, Ewan MacColl singing some songs and Bob & Ron Copper also singing.

In 1956 Isla Cameron appeared in another radio program “Ballads and Blues: Sea Music”. In 1960 “The Singers Club” opened in “The Princess Louise” pub in Holborn, London. It was run by Ewan MacColl and his new wife Peggy Seeger. Isla Cameron became a resident at this folk club, but by this point her film career had taken off. She acted in a number of movies, with her biggest acting role being in the 1969 version of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie where she could use her Scottish accent to advantage.

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