Janet Russell

Singer, vocal workshop leader, arranger.

Janet first made a name for herself on the folk circuit in the ‘80’s as a young singer songwriter writing with hard-edged humour about issues affecting women. Her “Secretary’s Song” was the most requested song on “Folk on 2” in 1987/8, and “Breastfeeding Baby in the Park” has been taken up by the pro-breastfeeding lobby nationally and internationally. Her work on Scottish traditional material with Scottish singer Christine Kydd has received huge critical acclaim, particularly in her native Scotland, and in the US.

Janet has now worked on the folk scene professionally for more than 20 years, starting in Edinburgh pubs, in 1980/81, and has experience of folk clubs, arts centres, concert halls, church halls and village halls of all sorts and sizes in the UK, Europe, and the USA. 

Throughout this time Janet has worked with other musicians, such as Sisters Unlimited colleagues Sandra Kerr, Rosie Davis and Peta Webb, and Scottish singing partner Christine Kydd, and also toured the show “Take These Chains from My Heart”, written by partner Jim Woodland with storyteller Taffy Thomas. 

Janet worked as musical director for Mikron Theatre for ten years, and is recognised as an accomplished vocal harmony workshop leader. She is a member of the Natural Voice Practitioners’ Network and a director of Yorkshire Dales Workshops, “promoting participation in folk arts”. 

At the end of 2001 Janet produced the first English performances of “The Christmas Truce” with Coope Boyes and Simpson - a show that                                                received a standing ovation at the Sheffield Raise Your Banners Festival in November 2001 and which ran successfully again in November 2002. In March 2005 the same team put on two performances of “Hearts of Coal” celebrating the lives of miners and mining communities with the Roses and Thorns choir, a magnificent group of 80 voices from across northern England.

Janet leads three community choirs, in Silsden, Burnley, and Settle and continues to perform and to facilitate voice and harmony workshops whilst bringing up her two sons with partner Jim Woodland.

“The most striking feature of Janet Russell’s arresting voice is a lower register whose distinctive power and edge make dramatic listening” Tony Rose, The Guardian

Janet’s Recordings On Harbourtown Records


"Gathering The Fragments"

Tracks: Old Woman is Watching / The Children Are Running / The Blude Red Rose / The Band of Shearers- The Musical Priest - The Wind That Shakes the Barley / The Hills of Ardmorn / All the Tunes in the World / The Secretary's Song / Sanctuary / Fast Bright Nights / Choices / Land of the Leal / Curtain Call.

Janet Russell is the latest in an illustrious line of women singers from Scotland. Steeped in traditional song and music but also open to the most recent musical influences, Janet stresses the unity of old and new songs and interweaves them seamlessly in her repertoire.

"Janet's guitar and voice are complemented by some classy fiddle from Tom McConville and Paul Stevens, with further backing from Mary MacMaster, Sally Barker, the late Nick Keir and Jack Evans. The result is a most enjoyable album of thought provoking lyric and musical excellence.



Tracks: No Going Back / Promises / Breastfeeding Baby in the Park / Tomorrow / Mouth Music / My Better Years / Working Girl Blues / Old and Strong / My True Love Once / When I Was Single / On Children / No Man's Momma / Forgive and Forget / We Were There.

Four Women, Peta Webb, Sandra Kerr, Rosie Davis and Janet Russell, fine singers all, with four separate and highly respected individual careers already well established, join forces in this powerful musical statement of their combined abilities and experiences.

  HARCD 026

"Bright Shining Morning?"

Tracks: Bright Shining Morning? / Ettrick / Childminder's Song / Can't Hug You / Fly Away (Sadie) / Sheath and Knife / Garten Mother's Lullaby / Mouth Music / Jeannie Jenkins / Song for a Seafarer / soweto / Accidents / Bury My Heart / St Peters Fields / I Know Love / The Bluebell Polka

Janet Russell's second solo album with some help from Mary MacMaster, Tom McConville and Sara Grey (amongst others). Once again a mixture of traditional and contemporary songs following on directly from her first highly successful album on Harbourtown Records (HARCD 003).

  HARCD 052

“Love Songs And Fighting Talk”

Tracks: Pretty Polly : Eppie Morrie : The Creole Girl’s Lament : Steely Water/Donal Og : Waxie’s Dargle : Mary Ambree : Sodjer’s Cairn : Matt Hyland : Collier Laddie : Banks of Sweet Dundee : My Laddie Sits/Maire Nighean Alastair/Gie My Love Brose – R. Burns : The Pigeon and the Sparra : Waly Waly Up The Bank : Wexford Lullaby : Willie Brewed a Peck o’ Maut/Barren Rocks of Aden/Swing Yer Maw

Janet's long-awaited third solo CD is a fine collection of songs featuring instrumental support from Tom McConville (fiddle), Najam Jawed (tabla), Steve Tilston (guitar) and Gill Redmond (cello).

Other Recordings By Janet:
“Janet Russell and Christine Kydd” – Greentrax CDTRAX 011
“Dancin’Chantin’” – Greentrax CDTRAX 077
“Take These Chains from my Heart” a narrative tape with songs about a performer’s fight back from a stroke. With Taffy Thomas, storyteller - TT Tapes 006
“The Stones of Callanish” (various artists) - DOG 005/6
“No Bed of Roses” with Sisters Unlimited – Fellside FE104


© Harbourtown Records 1987-2024