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 we heard that Shakin’ Stevens had produced a new album inspired by his family history – with blues, roots, Americana and classic rock taking centre stage – suffice to say that we sat up with interest.
Shakin’ Stevens (Michael Barratt) was the UK’s biggest-selling singles artist of a decade, and has achieved international success. Born in Ely, Cardiff, Shaky was the youngest of 13 children – but despite coming from a large family, Stevens knew very 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.
However, 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 suffering in the Cornish copper mines, to bravery and loss in war, together with philanthropic preachers and spiritual Salvationists, Stevens’ new album ‘Echoes of our Times’ 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.
We caught up with Shaky to chat about his new album and the impact of his family history research on his sense of identity.