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On Monday, May 17th, 1999 the music world was stunned by news of the death of John Fleagle after having lived with cancer for over two years. John was our bard, our master singer; his loss is incalculable.

John was a native of Woodstock, Connecticut. He played drums in a rock band in high school and then went to the Berklee College to study string bass. His work with the late Marleen Montgomery in the 70s is what transformed him into the singer and storyteller that touched the lives of so many around the world. He delved into the music and lore of the middle ages, learned to build his own instruments - harp, psaltery, hurdy gurdy - and traveled extensively in search of songs and tales that had been lost for centuries. Over the years his work with such groups as Alexander's Feast, the Ensemble Project Ars Nova and, most recently, Fortune's Wheel brought his gfits to the astonished attention of audiences from Germany and Holland to Mexico and Vancouver, BC. He appeared frequently with the Boston Camerata and the Christmas Revels.

His uncanny voice, with its extraordinary range, brought vivid life to these ancient songs of love and death, magic and mysticism. He seemed to have stepped directly into this world from the 13th century, to walk lightly among us and, in his singing, to direct our attention to concerns and questions still unanswered at this brutally prosaic end of the millenium. He was a quiet, unassuming soul; his gifts were not marred by excessive ambition or ego. He was unique. There is simply no one who can replace him.

--Richard Knisely

John Fleagle

Roger Ide photo

spoke divider

Singer/instrumentalist John Fleagle created some of the most lyrical and inventive performances of medieval song. With a background in jazz and traditional singing, his voice captivated audiences at festivals around the world.

His contemporary style of interpretation breathed life into poems some seven or eight hundred years old--be they in Old French, Latin, Middle English or Gaelic. He fashioned compelling arrangements of his songs on beautiful reconstructions of medieval stringed instruments: lute, gothic harp and hurdy-gurdy, which he also designed and built.

Fleagle is well known to radio audiences here and abroad for his epic musical storytelling adventures, including the Voyage of Saint Brendan and the Roman de Silence. He can be heard, as well, on Erato, New Albion and BMG records.

Of his dramatic approach to performance, the Boston Globe wrote:

"John Fleagle, that solitary singer, was marvelous (indeed almost literally so) in evoking the atmosphere of a time when our ancestors gathered 'round of an evening to hear of striking deeds and distant places, of magic, danger, evil and piety, of a world in which anything might have a religious import and miracles did happen."
John Fleagle was a featured artist in the 1995 25th anniversary Christmas Revels, and performed in the 1996 Cambridge Christmas Revels

You can download his album World's Bliss from Magnatune

Back Sheldon Brown's Unofficial Revels Index Page
Official Revels, Inc. Site
The 2005 Christmas Revels
The 2000 Christmas Revels 2001 Spring Revels
The 1999 Christmas Revels 2000 Spring Revels
The 1998 Christmas Revels 1999 Sea Revels
The 1997 Christmas Revels 1998 Sea Revels
The 1996 Christmas Revels 1997 Midsummer Revels
The 1995 Christmas Revels 1996 Midsummer Revels

fleagle Since October 17, 1996