With their eloquent voices and expert musicianship, John Roberts and Debra Cowan bring to life songs seldom heard on TV or radio these days. Drawn from both the folk tradition and the work of contemporary songwriters, many of these songs tell of the timeless joys and sorrows of human experience. They offer windows into where we’ve come from and perhaps where we’re headed. Both John and Debra can spin a ripping good yarn and whether illuminating, inspiring, or laugh-out-loud funny, their stories convey their love of the songs and the people who’ve sung them over the years, decades — and in some cases centuries. — debracowan.com — johnrobertsmusic.com
John and Debra first met in 1999. John, an English émigré, has been singing sea shanties, broadside ballads, pub tunes, and British traditional songs since the 1960s. Sometimes his bold voice stands alone; other times he accompanies himself on Anglo concertina or banjo.
Debra’s nightingale soprano complements and contrasts with John’s rich baritone. Debra often leaves her guitar on the stage: her strong, clear, and expressive voice needs no instrumental support. Her repertoire focuses on traditional songs and on contemporary work that deserves a wider audience. She’s been known to rework old love songs, sea shanties, and ballads to give them feminist twists.
John and Debra firmly believe that folk music is not a spectator sport. They can turn any audience into a chorale by patiently teaching sometimes complicated and often tongue-tying choruses, along with familiar songs. Whether the venue is a coffeehouse, auditorium, or living room, listeners leave a Roberts-Cowan performance smiling and often singing, knowing that the song is the star, and singing is what keeps great songs alive.
The Chenango Sessions, hosted by Andru Bemis, is a weekly, one-hour, nationally syndicated radio program which features world-class musicians playing in intimate spaces—living rooms, galleries, and listening rooms—for small, enthusiastic audiences, mostly around Binghamton, New York. Audiences and artists are encouraged to interact, and the spirit of the live show is preserved in the radio program and recordings. You can listen to the Chenango Sessions every Monday at 11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. on WBDY-LP 99.5 FM The Bundy. For more details or to attend a live session, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.