|Origin||West Midlands, England|
|Genres||Folk, easy-listening, pop|
|Years active||1964–1981 , 2018 –present|
|Labels||Decca, London, Pye (including Marble Arch), Columbia, Island|
|Past members||Cindy Kent|
Formation and genre
The group started as a trio, but almost immediately expanded by adding a bassist to their line-up. The original members were:
- Cynthia "Cindy" Kent (vocals and tambourine), born 7 August 1945, Oldbury, Worcestershire;
- Mike Jones (vocals and guitar), born Michael Edwin Jones, 16 September 1943, Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, died 11 May 2008, Exeter, Devon;
- John Fyffe (banjo), born 3 July 1943, Uddingston, South Lanarkshire, Scotland;
- Mansel Davies (double bass), born 22 March 1942, South Wales.
The Settlers were initially known as the Birmingham Folk Four, but became known as the Settlers after the relative success of their first single, "Settle Down". A six-month residency on a BBC television series, Singalong, led to support bookings on tours with, among others, Dusty Springfield, Roy Orbison and the Small Faces. The Settlers have generally been referred to as a folk group. However, like the Seekers, the successful Australian group with which they shared marked similarities, some of their material gravitated towards mainstream pop which, taking its cue from American singer-songwriters Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and such groups as Peter, Paul and Mary, We Five, and The Byrds, readily absorbed folk influences in various ways in the mid-1960s. The Settlers’ melodic style was largely settled before the advent of British folk-rock in the guise of Fairport Convention and Pentangle later in the sixties.
In 1969, the band appeared with Cliff Richard, Una Stubbs, and William Hartnell amongst others in a six-part religious themed drama serial on ITV. The series, produced by Tyne Tees TV, was not networked and thus reached a limited audience. Only three of the six episodes have survived.
Early musical output
The Settlers' first single, "Sassafras"/"Settle Down", was released in 1964. They became quite well known nationally, assisted by frequent appearances on television and, until 1967, regular exposure on offshore pirate radio stations. In particular, their recording of John Lennon and Paul McCartney's "Nowhere Man" (1965) was, together with the Overlanders' 1966 UK No.1 hit, "Michelle", and the Truth's version of "Girl", among the best known covers of songs from the Beatles' album Rubber Soul (1965). However, although "Nowhere Man" reached a high of No.5 in Radio London's non-sales-based Fab 40 in March 1966 and the group's spirited version of Gordon Lightfoot's "Early Morning Rain" received a good deal of airplay in May 1966, the Settlers did not succeed in enjoying a Top 40 hit during the 1960s. Their most successful record, "The Lightning Tree" (helped along due to its use as the theme tune of the British TV series Follyfoot), reached No. 36 in the UK Singles Chart in 1971.
Like the Seekers, the group also included a double bassist. The original bassist, Mansel Davies, left in 1965 to pursue a career in teaching and was replaced by Geoff Srdzinski (born Geoffrey Srodzinski, 10 June 1946, Plymouth, Devon), who shared accommodation in Hampstead, London, with Tony Hooper of Strawbs. Hooper's song "Always on My Mind" was released as a single by the Settlers early in 1967.
As has often been the case with sole female members of bands, Cindy Kent (like Judith Durham of the Seekers) attracted her own share of attention as the most recognisable face of the Settlers. Originally known for her fine singing voice, photogenic good looks, and tendency to wear mini-skirts, later her public espousal of Christianity became the media focus, particularly when it brought her into contact with the singer Cliff Richard, a prominent born again Christian, and they jointly contributed to various events with a Christian theme.
Shortly after recording a religious album, I Am Your Servant, in 1973, Kent left the group and later released a solo single, "I Only Want To Be In The World", on the Beeb label in 1975 before moving into radio broadcasting.
Kent worked at Radio 4, Radio 2, and Radio 1 (in that order) and later became a broadcaster on London's first legal commercial radio stations, LBC and Capital Radio, as well as Sheffield's Radio Hallam, and in 1995 was the first presenter recruited to the team for Premier Christian Radio, where she stayed until 2010.
Kent describes herself as a high church or Catholic Anglican Christian. In 2005 she was admitted as a reader in the Church of England; on 30 June 2007 she was ordained as a deacon and in 2008 was ordained as a priest. She was priest-in-charge of the parish of St John Whetstone in the Diocese of London from 2010 until her retirement in 2016 when she moved to the Isle of Sheppey.
In 2016, she received an MBE for services to religious broadcasting,
Later musical output
After the departure of Cindy Kent, the line up transitioned from acoustic four-part pop folk harmony, to a more contemporary five-piece electric sound with Mike Jones (guitar/banjo/vocals), Andie Sheridan (Kent's replacement as female vocals), Paul Greedus (guitar/vocals), Chris Johnstone (bass/vocals), and George Jeffrey on drums. In 1974 this line up recorded an album for York Records, entitled The New Sound of the Settlers.
In early 1976, Valery Ann (also known as Valeryan and as Valerie Anne Lawrence), who had released an original song "My Love Loves Me" on Decca in 1965 while she was still at school in Surrey, replaced Andie Sheridan as female vocalist, and the line up changed back to a four piece acoustic close harmony group, with Mike Jones, Paul Greedus, Valery Ann, and Steve Somers-Smith. It was this line up that went into the studios to record "Whichaway Billy" for Riverdale. The single was released in October 1976, by which time Valery Ann (after only 9 months in the band) had already left to pursue a solo career. She was replaced by Patty Vetta, giving a final line-up of:
- Mike Jones (guitar/banjo/fiddle/vocals);
- Paul Greedus (bass/vocals/occasional piano*);
- Steve Somers-Smith (vocals/guitar);
- Patty Vetta (vocals/tambourine).
Mike Jones was the last surviving original member, when the band broke up in 1981.
Steve Somers-Smith had joined the band in 1975 after winning ATV's New Faces as a singer-songwriter with his own song "Mavis Brown". He has stayed with the group ever since, and is still a member. From 1975 until the group disbanded in 1981, Somers-Smith was often credited simply as "Steve Smith". Since the relaunch of the band in 2018 he has been commonly credited as "Steve Somers".
Patty Vetta, well known on the British folk club circuit, replaced Varley Ann as the female lead voice. Patty Vetta, like Steve Smith, stayed with the group until its end in the early 1980s, and remains a member in the relaunched group since 2018.
The Settlers' albums included their debut Sing Out for Decca Records in the UK, and London Records in the US (1964), which featured an eclectically varied selection of folk songs, including "The Keeper", "Over the Stone", "The Three Jolly Rogues of Lynn" and "The Golden Vanity", Ewan MacColl's "Dirty Old Town" and "Shoals of Herring", Matt McGinn's "Coorie Doon", and "Frog Went A-Courtin'"
Whereas Go!, (Pye Records, 1966) paired the group with The Overlanders both separately and together. The eponymous The Settlers, for (Island Records, 1967) included Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" and "Mr Tambourine Man" and such folk standards as "The Wreck of the Old 97". Call Again for (Marble Arch Records, 1969) collected the group's singles output for Pye Records, and was released after they had left that record label.
Settlers Alive for (Columbia Records, 1970) was recorded live at Queen Elizabeth Hall the previous year, whilst Sing a New Song (Myrrh, 1972), had a strongly religious component. Lightning Tree (York, 1972), which, in addition to the title hit, included extracts, spoken by Cindy Kent, from Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 speech "I Have a Dream". Lightning Tree was re-released by Decca in 1974 as The World of the Settlers .
Re-launch in 2018
Following its formal break-up, the band members continued to provide backing music services to the BBC for a number of years.
In 2018 The Settlers re-launched, following more than 35 dormant years. Both Steve Somers-Smith and Patty Vetta remain in the line-up, having been members of the band since 1975 and 1976 respectively. In the current line-up they are joined by Tony Harris and musician/manager Dave Smith, who also manages the re-launched band through his management company, Main Stage Acts.
In 2019 the band released "Resettled", its first album release for 37 years.
- See, for example, Castle CD, Brum Beat: the Story of the 1960s Midland Sound (2006), which included the Settlers' recording of Gordon Lightfoot's Early Morning Rain.
- "The Good News – Arts". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 18 April 2007.
- "Click here to view the tribute page for Michael Edwin Mike JONES". Funeral-notices.co.uk. Archived from the original on 3 August 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- The Times obituary of Mike Jones, 21 July 2008
- The Times, 21 July 2008
- "William Hartnell as Cliff Richard's father". Nwhyte.livejournal.com. 18 April 2015.
- "Radio London – Big L Fab Forty 20th March 1966". Radiolondon.co.uk.
- "Field's Fab 40 : May 1966". Radiolondon.co.uk. Retrieved 15 June 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Guinness British Hit Singles (15th ed, 2002)
- ""Always on My Mind"". Radiolondon.co.uk. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
This was not the same song recorded by Elvis Presley in the early-1970s and which was subsequently a hit for The Pet Shop Boys in the 1980sCS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link).
- Her employment history in radio is catalogued on this page. Archived 26 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- Her Premier profile may be viewed here. Archived 27 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine
- Dan Wooding (6 August 2010). "The next chapter in the extraordinary life of Cindy Kent". Christian Today. Retrieved 9 October 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Former Settlers singer the Rev Cindy Kent has retired and moved to the Isle of Sheppey". Kent Online. 12 June 2016. Retrieved 9 October 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Premier Christian Radio presenter Cindy Kent awarded MBE". Premier Christian Radio. 10 June 2016. Retrieved 9 October 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Fun Stuff". The Settlers. Retrieved 11 August 2020.