For a lot of people, researching their family history can be a huge undertaking that can span months, or even years. So when you finally reach a point of personal fulfilment, it’s natural to want to do something with all those findings. People often print and frame their family trees; produce coffee table books; write blogs; even stitch narrative quilts.
But when Shakin’ Stevens, 80s rock ‘n roll dynamo, came to us and said he’d produced a new album inspired by his family history, suffice to say we sat up with interest.
Considered the Welsh Elvis, Shakin’ Steven (Michael Barratt) was the UK’s biggest-selling singles artist of the 1980s. Born in Ely, Cardiff, Shaky was the youngest of 13 children. But despite coming from a large family, Shaky knew little about his ancestors and their stories. If anything, his past was shrouded in mystery, hidden behind secrets and lies that had been long maintained by his extended family.
But through his research with Ancestry, and by taking the AncestryDNA test, Shaky was able to solve some of those mysteries, and uncover the history of his family. From tales of death and difficulty in the Cornish copper mines, to the loss of war, and spiritual Salvationists, Shaky’s new album ‘Echoes of our Time’ recognises and celebrates the stories of his ancestors’ lives.
We caught up with Shaky to chat about his new album and the impact of his family history research on his sense of identity.