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Catherine Howe

Last updated 08 September 2015


Catherine Howe
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Catherine Howe

Born: Wed 17th May 1950 (age: 66)

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Catherine Howe (born HalifaxWest YorkshireEngland) is an English singer-songwriter. She is an Ivor Novello Award winner who has earned critical acclaim in dozens of music magazines both in the UK and the US, including Folk Album of the Year from the Sunday Times.

Howe began an acting career in the late 1960s, where she appeared in the 1967 Doctor Who story The Underwater Menace. 

Howe trained as an actress at the Corona Drama School in London. She commenced an acting career in the late 1960s, performing in contemporary television dramas such as Z CarsThe Wednesday Play and Dixon of Dock Green. Howe went on to appear in Barney Platts-Mill's filmPrivate Road. In 1970, Howe met Andrew Cameron Miller, an executive at Reflection, a subsidiary of CBS Records, resulting in her recording her debut album What A Beautiful Place at Trident Studios in London, in February 1971. Miller paired Howe with Bobby Scott, an American pianist and record producer who had previously co-written The Hollies' "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother". However, Reflection ceased to trade when the album was on the point of release, and as a result it remained largely unheard until it was reissued in 2007 on the Numero label. The re-release met with critical acclaim; gaining a five-star review from Observer Music.

Howe featured on soundtrack recordings in the UK and Europe throughout the 1970s, and provided the lead vocal for Ennio Morricone's theme song "Un genie, deux associes, une cloche" in 1976. She worked with the Italian jazz musician Piero Piccioni, recording two songs for his 1972 film God Under the Skin and singing in an Italian television broadcast with Piccioni two years later. Howe's second LP Harry was released in the UK in 1975 on RCA, for which the title track received an Ivor Novello Award (only the second female recording artist to achieve this). Harry remains available as a mobile phone ringtone. Also in 1975, Howe appeared on film as the singer during the title credits of the British sex farce, Can You Keep It Up For A Week? RCA released a follow-up album,Silent Mother Nature in 1976, winning Folk Album of the Year from the Sunday Times. A single was released entitled "Until The Morning Comes" written by the Scottish singer/guitarist Dave Kelly and Ray McRiner, and was performed on LWT'sSupersonic. The following year, the title tracks of both RCA albums were re-released (together with the aforementioned single) on the EP The Truth of the Matter, and was one of the Top 75 selling EPs of 1977. Throughout that year Howe produced and sang the songs for BBC Television's That's Life!. Howe's fourth album came two years later, Dragonfly Days, released on Ariola Records. Ariola also released singles by Howe prior to and following the album, some of which are not included on the LP, and promoted as far away as South America. The third single "Quietly and Softly" also featured as the B-side to "Switchboard" by Georg Kajanus' group "April Love".

One was with Mike Batt, Howe's self-penned "Sit Down And Think Again", another was a cover of Carole King's "Goin' Back" produced by Pip WilliamsDragonfly Days remains her only record not reissued on CD. In 1979, the BBC filmed Rhythm on 2: Catherine Howe and Judie Tzuke, a live concert at Ipswich's Corn Exchange. The following year, again for the BBC, Howe featured on both the Jeremy Taylor and Sacha Distel shows.

None of Howe's albums sold in large quantity in their time, and after Dragonfly Days, she decided to retire from the music industry. Howe explained in her own words on the tradmusic.com website: "Despite promotion and tours with Andy Fairweather-Low, Chris de Burgh, David Soul and later with Randy Edleman, the albums and singles didn't sell enough. I thought it was because of me, but it was as much (I've since learned) because they weren't in the shops to buy. To remedy this it was suggested that maybe I should write 'country and western', maybe I should change my hair, maybe wear black leather. So the music business, which I loved, and I parted company. Like a bad marriage, some damage was sustained before separation took place...." There was some activity in the 1980s with a re-issue of the "Harry" single in 1984 (due to public demand with the birth of Prince Harry). A year later, Howe contributed two songs to the Sounds of Yorkshire LP: a re-recording of "Lucy Snow" ("Lucy Snowe") from the Silent Mother Nature album; and a new piece in a traditional vein, "Yorkshire Hills". In 1989 Howe had a daughter, Jenny, and later earned a first class degree in History and Religion from the Open University.

Howe is currently working on a book on the life of the 19th-century secularist George Holyoake as well as continuing with her songwriting. In 2002 Howe returned to recording, producing a new CD, her fifth: Princelet Street. This coincided with the launch of anofficial website and preceded the re-issue of her 1970s albums What a Beautiful Place (with the Numero label), Harry (with BGO) and Silent Mother Nature (with BGO). 

Biography from the Wikipedia article, licensed under CC-BY-SA