Falmouth local, Will Keating is in the process of producing an album in tribute to his friend and fellow musician, Harry Glasson. Harry and Will speak to Truthfal about how and why they are undertaking this mammoth task.

A passion for Folk: Will Keating performing for Falmouth University students. Photograph by Christer Davanger

Songs like Cornwall My Home, We Are the Children and A Song for Cornwall are sung across Cornwall on a daily basis, from primary school children in school halls, to mother’s at dining room tables and even to pubs full of drunken Cornish pride. However, when asked, many of those singing the iconic tunes are unaware of the songs’ writer and origin.

But with the help of folk musician and proud, Falmouth local, Will Keating, that’s about to change.

After surviving cancer of the vocal chords in 2009, Harry Glasson, a Marazion local, had his voice box removed, all but ending his career as a singer and songwriter. Harry can still sing with the aid of a valve but because he has to hold the valve in order to sing, it means he can’t play guitar and sing at the same, a crucial part of Harry’s style. Out of respect and admiration for his friend, Will began producing an album of Harry’s music in an attempt to recognise the lifetime of work Harry has produced but never received appropriate credit for.

Will speaks passionately about how saddened it makes him to hear people singing Harry’s songs so patriotically and passionately across the county but knowing that many don’t know it’s all Harry’s work. After finding out it was Harry who wrote the music he loved, Will befriended him and now wants to give him the credit he deserves and also continue to pursue his passion for music at the same time.

“I first became aware of Harry’s music when I was singing with The Oggymen. After I googled his name it became obvious that I knew pretty much all of his music but had never heard his name. After I met up and spoke to him all I wanted to do was to find a way to give him the credit he deserves.”

Born in 1951 in Cornwall, Harry left school at 15, and joined The Royal Navy, going to sea for the first time two days after his 16th birthday, barely more than a boy. In a woodwork class at school, Harry hand crafted his first guitar and he took it with him to sea, a fond memory of the home he had left behind. This was the place that he really began to fall in love with music, poetry and the effect words could have. Writing mostly poetry while at sea, it wasn’t until he returned to shore that he began to explore folk music and how story could be told through lyrics.  The genre inspired him to express his memories and feelings through song and it soon became clear that Folk music was the place his work felt most comfortable. Harry reminisces fondly of his time in the Navy but speaks more about how it was the place in which he discovered his passion.

Growing up in Cornwall, Harry felt the massive blow that the decline of the mining industry had on the nation and his songs reflect that nation-wide grief and hardship. His lyrics convey the feelings of loss, resilience and hope felt by the people and touches the heart of any listener, whether they are Cornish or from above the bridge.

By producing the album, Will hopes to remind Cornwall of its collective beauty, and honour the legend who sings so captivatingly about it.

Using the facilities at Falmouth University, Will hopes to include as many musicians from the local community and the university as he can. During a performance at AMATA’s weekly lunchtime concert, Will asked if any students would like to help produce the album and he was shocked at the massive response he received. A line quickly formed after he left the stage, from singers to violinists he was presented with a plethora of young talent keen to be involved. He expects that this, and the involvement of other local Cornish musicians will give the album the authentic Cornish, community feel that Harry’s words convey and that any Cornishman knows in their heart.

Friends through music: Harry and Will pose together at Falmouth University last week. Photograph by Christer Davanger.

To support Will and Harry’s project, you can donate in the form of a pledge which supports their project and gets you a copy of the CD when it is released. Go to Will’s website for further details. Will’s contact information is also available on his website if you would be interested in getting involved.

Watch Truthfal’s interview with Will  here