It seems appropriate to be posting this over the weekend we all should be celebrating the wise women in our lives.
Wise Woman, note the singular rather than the plural, is a power folk four-piece, half of which hail from Colchester.
That’s Anna Pool and Lydia Bell, who after singing through school together at the Colchester County High School for Girls, met fellow band members, Maddie Cutter and Charlotte Vaughan when the four studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Now they’re making a more than welcome ‘homecoming’ to promote their debut EP, Thread.
Moving through lush vocals, cinematic strings and 90s girl power, Thread is a celebration of untold female stories, particularly those of the East Anglian wildlands which Anna and Lydia calls home.
“Our Colchester roots play out in so much of our music,” Anna says. “Audiences come on a theatrical journey with us, from songs inspired by 17th Century witches to Boudicca, to what it means to be an Essex girl today. The Arts Centre is our perfect homecoming.”
Wise Woman first started, to a certain extent, when Anna and Lydia met as music mad teenagers in the quiet village of Copford.
“We both lived in the same village and went to the same school” she says. “So when we discovered we had similar tastes in music, I think around 13/14, we started arranging folk and jazz compositions together.”
After meeting Maddie and Charlotte at Guildhall, all four have gone off and done some rather exciting music projects with Lydia selling out venues like the Colchester Arts Centre with her Big Band jazz nights; Maddie working with award winning composer Isobel Waller Bridge; Charlotte starring in Phantom of the Opera; and Anna being an international director of opera.
“I didn’t sing for quite some time,” Anna admits. “I started composing and directing at Guildhall and went from there into working with opera companies such as Opera North and English Touring Opera. I then set up my own company Workshopera, which commissioned new site specific work to take place in warehouses and forests and other such places.”
Her most recent production was the musical play Lady in the Dark by Kurt Weill, which took place at Opera Zuid and won the Place de l’Opera’s Opera of the Year 2022 in the Netherlands.
So Wise Woman has kind of been a rather lovely side project, where the four friends have got together to meld the very different musical genres they’re all passionate about into a harmonious atmospheric treat.
Anna adds: “We formed the group during the darkness of the pandemic winter of 2020 where we all had some time to take stock and as a way of supporting each other through it all but it ended up being a really exciting way of exploring the stories we wanted to tell.”
For the first week of January last year, the four re-located themselves to a studio on a lightship moored opposite the O2 to record the EP that would become Thread.
“We had to melt the ice on the gang plank,” Anna laughs, “but it was probably one of the best experiences we’ve all had making music. We had it mastered at Air Studios and then got an embroider to help us with the album cover.
“We released it last November and have been touring it ever since. The response has been more than we can could have hoped for and we can’t wait to bring it home to Colchester.”
On the night they will be joined by award winning vocal duo, Ben & Dom.
Ben See and Dominic Stichbury are a singing duo from south London, who will also be marking the release of their EP Shoulder.
As well as performing songs from their respective releases, the two groups will also be collaborating on never-before-heard arrangements of their material and old folk favourites.
Wise Woman and Ben & Dom will be at the Colchester Arts Centre on Sunday, March 26 at 7.30pm. Tickets, priced £12 and £10 are available now at or by calling 01206 500900.