Derek Sarjeant

b. 7 June 1930, Chatham, Kent, England. Sarjeant started playing the trumpet at the age of 15 and gained experience with various jazz bands in Kent. He formed the Golden Gate Jazzmen but eventually took…
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Artist Biography

b. 7 June 1930, Chatham, Kent, England. Sarjeant started playing the trumpet at the age of 15 and gained experience with various jazz bands in Kent. He formed the Golden Gate Jazzmen but eventually took up the guitar and started singing in a skiffle group. Sarjeant, a leading figure of the folk revival, started Kent’s first folk club in Chatham in 1956. In 1961, he moved to Surrey and formed the Surbiton And Kingston Folk Club which became one of Britain’s largest folk-song clubs, running weekly for 16 years. Major folk singing legends from the USA such as Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Doc Watson, Rev. Gary Davis, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Guy Carawan, Jesse Fuller and many more appeared, as well as a host of UK artists.

In 1961, Sarjeant received national newspaper notoriety by ‘singing’ a proposal at a NALGO Trade Union Conference. His first album was released in 1962 for which he received Melody Maker’s Folk Medal Of The Year, in recognition for the clarity and warmth of voice and sympathetic guitar. His singing of ‘The Sweet Nightingale’ was heard by an agency and shortly after his voice became familiar to millions through a series of television adverts. He later made appearances on BBC Television’s Hoot’nanny Show and Folk In Focus series, and BBC Radio’s Folk Cellar and My Kind Of Folk. In 1965, Sarjeant helped organise, and performed at the English Folk Dance And Song Society’s First Folksong Festival. Extensive touring throughout the UK followed, Sarjeant mostly singing solo but sometimes accompanied by jazz guitarist friend Diz Disley. In 1968, Sarjeant returned from a successful tour of Sweden and Disley introduced him to Hazel King, an art student and folk singer, who he teamed up with and later married. The Sarjeants have continued to record on a regular basis, and perform and present folk music around their area as well as making foreign tours.