When Nan Cassidy sings, she gives it her all. It’s not a shy performance: she throws back her head, opens her lungs to all who listen. It’s physical, it’s strong.
Unsurprisingly, she takes the same approach to the material she chooses to sing, too. ‘Seven Yellow Gypsies’, for example, isn’t one she sings because to her, it doesn’t have any meaning. For Nan, it would be pointless putting all that effort in to a song that doesn’t ring true.
She thinks her sister, Kitty, has a lovely voice but duets wouldn’t appeal. “Families never sing together,” she says, simply. “They could do if they wanted to, but we never did. The old songs are always sung on their own, they’re too individual. Everyone’s got their own style.”
Her sister Kitty says that Nan knows a whole range of songs that she doesn’t know herself, purely because of the family she married into and the new people she met once married.
But Nan herself has said that learning songs isn’t something she’s found easy, mainly because she cannot read or write. She likes a simple song with a memorable air, the kind that is straightforward to learn by ear, like the songs she heard her Aunt Mary, her grandmother and her mother sing.