Who the heck did we think we were?
fRoots (abbreviated from Folk Roots in 1999) was the world’s leading magazine covering modern and traditional music with roots from around the globe. Founded in 1979 as a quarterly fanzine titled The Southern Rag, we grew an international subscription base within our first year. We went monthly and onto the news stands as Folk Roots in 1984, abbreviating to fRoots in 1999. We were at the sharp end of the folk/roots/world music scene for 40 years, dealing with an incredible diversity of music.
We were presented with the Womex Award for Professional Excellence in 2010 and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Folk Alliance International in 2019. In 2018 we changed again into a much bigger, better quality quarterly.
fRoots garnered its exceptional status because it dealt with this unique mix, from Anglo-trad to Zanzibar pop, from the latest fusions to the very ethnic. Every hugely comprehensive issue was packed with more than twice the feature content, more reviews and more original photography than its nearest competitor. fRoots was the first place you’d read about new names who later went on to establish strong reputations, and often the first to highlight previously under-exposed local musics.
Indeed, our readers constantly praised us for changing their musical lives! Our pages featured artists from Ali Farka Toure to Robert Plant, from Ry Cooder to Show Of Hands, from Eliza Carthy to Youssou N’Dour, from the Mekons to the Copper Family, from Bellowhead to Afro Celt Sound System, from younger UK folk names like The Unthanks, Emily Portman, Lucy Farrell, Rachel Newton, Jim Moray, Kathryn Tickell, Jackie Oates, Olivia Chaney, Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker and Sam Lee to international veterans like Cuba’s Eliades Ochoa, Senegal’s Orchestra Baobab, Ireland’s Andy Irvine, Peru’s Cumbia All Stars and England’s Shirley Collins, Nic Jones and the Old Swan Band, from Europe’s 21st Century ethno-adventurers like Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino, Lynched, Kristi Stassinopoulou, Trio Dhoore, Lula Pena and Kries, American ones like the Rhiannon Giddens, Sam Amidon, Anais Mitchell and Leyla McCalla to roots artists from the Indian and Pacific Oceans and beyond.
Every issue was packed with features, news, reviews and information on the UK and international scene, and came with very sought-after compilation albums. In Britain, we were news stand distributed; we were also sold by major music chains and
independent specialist shops, live music venues and by subscription worldwide (40% went overseas). We were read by everybody of importance in the roots music business and beyond.
fRoots was also keenly activist, campaigning on numerous issues over the years and involved in live music promotion and music production. We were among the small group of mover/shakers who dreamed up the whole World Music concept in 1987, instigated the BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music, were involved in the groundbreaking Europe In Union concert series, 2005’s massive Ceilidh Aid, Roots At The Roundhouse and the South Bank’s Bridges, regularly sponsored and promoted large and small folk events in the UK and got hands-on involved in tour sponsorship, record releases, artist development, and much more.