top of page
chris w

Daphne’s Flight was created 25 years ago by five of the leading singer songwriters of their generation - Chris While, Julie Matthews, Melanie Harrold, Helen Watson and Christine Collister. Described as one of the most exciting vocal groups to emerge on the acoustic music scene, their energy on stage is matched only by their collective talents, Daphne’s Flight are unrivalled and sit firmly in a class of their own as singers, musicians and writers. After a 21 year hiatus, they reunited in 2017 with a brand new album, ‘Knows Time, Knows Change’ and toured the UK and Europe to much critical and audience acclaim. A Live album and second tour followed in 2018 with festival appearances in 2019, including Cambridge, Shrewsbury and Cropredy which they stormed, gathering them even more devoted followers. They returned to the studio to record their highly anticipated 3rd studio album, ‘On Arrival’ which they were scheduled to tour in the spring of 2020. Alas, this was not to be and the postponed tour to 2021 also had to be rescheduled to 2022.

So it is with great anticipation that they will finally be touring the new album in the spring. For very personal reasons Christine Collister is unable to join them but Julie, Chris, Helen and Mel are delighted to welcome into the fold Miranda Sykes (Show of Hands) on vocals and double bass, adding yet another exciting new element to the band. Join them on what promises to be an unmissable return flight to the stage.


Helen Watson is a unique performer whose versatile voice and idiosyncratic songs are a welcome change in the world of singersongwriters. Her music crosses the boundaries between blues, soul, jazz and folk. Helen began performing on the folk circuit during the late sixties. She was in the blues band  'Loose Lips' and a member of the Mancheste band 'Well Knit Frames'. In the mid eighties Helen joined  backing Carmel as a backing singer with for several european tours. During this time she secured a recording contract with EMI.

Helen's first album Blue Slipper was produced in Los Angeles by the legendary Glyn Johns. Musicians included Albert Lee , Bernie Leadon and members of Little Feat. Helen then toured Europe with Joe Cocker. Her second EMI album - 'The Weather Inside' was also produced by Glyn Johns and featured Andy Fairweather-Low on Hanging Out The Washing. In the early 1990's Helen was a member of the acclaimed vocal ensemble Hell Bent Heaven Bound with Christine Collister, Barb Jungr and Michael Parker. They toured Europe and Canada.

The same year also saw the release of Notes On Desire the magnificent debut from the Helen Watson Band. During the latter part of the nineties Helen co-produced Christine Collister's Blue Aconite, and began recording her own beautiful trilogy of albums for the Fledg'ling label - Somersault (1996), Doffing (1999) and Lifesize (2002). Somersault - a remarkable collection of Helen's original songs - was coproduced by fellow Daphne's Flight member Julie Matthews, with guest appearances from Chris While, Christine Collister  and Julie Matthews. 

Her vocals can also be heard on the duet album Western Wall from Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. 2002 saw Helen contribute to Ashley Hutchings' Street Cries and Shining Bright - the Lal and Mike Waterson tribute collection. 

In 2006, Helen began working with double bass player Dave Bowie, guitarist Mark Creswell. and horn player Snake Davis. This collaboration became 'Burden Of Paradise.' This band crosses the boundaries between jazz, blues and soul. Teaming up with Mark in Leeds and Ilkley, Helen produced 'Headrest'in 2008. Since then Helen has recorded and 5 track CD of original materiel called Fiver with Mark Creswell. During this time she has recorded and performed with a five piece acapella group from Manchester called 'The Love Notes'.

alan chris.jpg

"She rises from the ashes like an angel with a voice to match". The Guardian.

Chris was a solo performer from the age of fourteen, singing and playing round the folk clubs in Barrow-in-Furness until she met her then husband Joe While. They became a duo and for the next fifteen years they lived and gigged around the Manchester folk scene and the north of England. Chris soon gained a reputation as a top class singer and guitarist.
In 1991 Chris went solo again after she and Joe divorced and rose to the attention of the Folk Roots world. Now equipped with an arsenal of original songs, she recorded her first three albums in quick succession 
Still on fire 1991, By Request 1992, Look at me now 1993. Chris has appeared on over 80 albums so far..

She recorded two more solo albums, In The Big Room 1997 and the critically acclaimed Rosella Red 2007.

She is now writing for the next one.....

Maverick Magazine wrote about Chris in their Rosella Red Review “She has the heart of a poet and the eyes of a painter. Her writing is literate, credible, forthright and honest. Her voice is beautiful, a term I very rarely use when describing the deliveries of most singers. It is emotion packed without ever being melodramatic, compassionate without being needlessly sentimental, damning when she fervently believes certain issues need to be confronted head on, but always making for compelling listening. A quite superb album from one of the most notable women, currently living up to the reputation she has quite painstakingly built over a number of years in the contemporary folk scene.” *****

In 1993 she joined The Albion Band as lead singer with Fairport's Simon Nicol and Ashley Hutchings and the following years brought her voice and songs to a much wider audience both in the U.K. and in the international arena. Chris made three albums with the band, writing or co-writing much of the material.She left the band in 1997 to pursue a full time duo career with her Albion Band mate and then partner Julie Matthews. 

While & Matthews, now famous around the globe for their live performances, have been nominated ten times in the Best Live act, best song and best duo categories at the BBC Folk awards and in 2009, they won the 'Best Duo' award. They have ten studio albums and two live ones in their catalogue as well as two Best of While and Matthews collections, in 2019 they celebrated 25 Years as a duo.
Chris and Julie also play in The Christmas Band, St Agnes Fountain playing alongside Fairport's Chris Leslie and this year will be their 22nd annual tour.​
Over the years Chris has made many appearances with Fairport Convention and in 2007 she was asked to take the place of the late Sandy Denny to re-create the classic Fairport album 'Liege & Lief' with the original 1969 line-up (Ashley Hutchings, Richard Thompson, Simon Nicol, Dave Mattacks and Dave Swarbrick) at Cropredy Festival in front of 25,000 fans. 

​One the biggest joys in Chris's life is to sing with her Daughter Kellie While and they have three Albums to date. You can find a full discography here.


 Described as "Awesomely talented" by  FRootsJulie Matthews is one of the country's most talented and prolific song writers and has earned the respect of her peer as well as her huge fan base and reviewers alike.

Julie was a lone performer in her early years, travelling around Europe learning her craft as a singer / songwriter and entertainer. 

Described by Folk Roots as "awesomely talented" Julie Matthews is a dynamic performer, songwriter and multi instrumentalist. (Piano, Guitar, Bazouki,& Mandolin.

Born in Sheffield, England, she left school at 18 and began writing songs for a small London publishing company. The contract lasted only a few months before the company went bankrupt and forced Julie to "go out and learn her trade properly", as she put it. So she began singing in pubs, wine bars and then piano bars around the world, perfecting her performance skills by night and her writing skills during the day. Throughout this time, Julie worked in a duo with Pat Shaw and in 1993 they released their debut album 'Lies and Alibi's'. It was the first collection of Matthews' songs on CD and received critical acclaim; this led to them opening for Mary Chapin Carpenter at Her Majesty's Theatre in London. 

Sadly this was one of their last performances together as shortly afterwards the duo split. Since then Julie has recorded two solo albums; 'Such Is Life' 1996 and 'Slow' 2004.In 1990 she was asked to join the legendary Albion Band. Julie agreed and over the following seven years she became a leading member of several of their line-ups, her songs becoming an intrinsic part of the bands repertoire.It was during this time that Julie joined forces with Singer/Songwriter and fellow Albion Band member Chris While and in 1997 they left the band to pursue their duo career. Their partnership has gone from strength to strength, releasing ten major albums together and touring each year throughout the UK, Europe, Canada and Australia.
Though internationally acclaimed, they continue to be a leading force on the UK's acoustic/roots arts circuit. Their songs cover life as they see it, from the industrial wastelands of the north, to injustice and freedom, matters of the heart and everything in between. 

Julie is a key songwriter for the Sony Award winning series of Radio Ballads, made for BBC Radio 2 in 2006 and 2012. In early 2010 she joined Rory McLeod, Boo Hewerdine, Jez Lowe and Ruth Notman in the song-writing project "All Along the Wall", celebrating the history of Hadrian’s Wall in music and poetry. In 2015, she, along with Chris While, Jez Lowe, O'Hooley and Tiddow, Boo Hewerdine, John Doyle, Andy Seward, John McKusker and Michael McGoldrick, was one of the writers for 'The Ballads Of Child Migration', the music from which was used to accompany the V&A's 'On Their Own', a moving exhibition of the history of forced Child Migration in London.

mel with guitar_edited.jpg

Melanie began her career as Joanna Carlin singing in the folk clubs of the 70’s moving into musical theatre and television before making her first album 
Fancy That with DJM records. She toured with Louden Wainwright 111 and Don McLean singing with Barbara Dixon on Gerry Rafferty’s City to City album and even dueting once with Nina Simone. She recorded a second album Blue Angel under the name of Melanie Harrold, which frankly went down like a wet balloon except for her song I Live in The City which had a huge amount of radio play.  
She bumped into B.J. Cole as he was recording Hank Wangford and went on to join the band along with Andy Roberts and Gary Taylor whom she had met making Fancy That. As Irma Cetas she became the Vera Lynne of the North Sea Oilfields and stayed for five years mainly working the London Pub Circuit.

After leaving the band she returned to her acoustic roots and her own songwriting, teaming up with double bassist Olly Blanchflower for seven years of writing producing and touring.

In her early forties she came off the road and trained as a Voice Movement Therapist and now travels the world teaching and leading workshops. In London she leads two choirs Trade Winds and Vocal Chords for whom she arranges writes and conducts.

In 2012 the DJM albums were re-released by Acrobat Records bringing her back to live performances and recording  ‘Melanie Harrold...Live and Then Some’ in 2013.

Being in Daphnes Flight is such a joy and is a creative project that  just grows and grows. To be alongside such amazing talent is inspiring and life affirming for the band and for their audiences. As one fan said “I am not afraid of becoming an older artist anymore, because I have seen Daphnes  Flight”


Miranda started her career as a musician in 1996 at the age of 18, playing bass guitar for a country rock band.

After 2 years touring and playing for line dancing in working mens clubs across Britain, the folk-rock band Pressgang were looking for a bass player. After seeing their advert in FRoots magazine, she drove her trusty Vauxhall Chevette from Lincolnshire to Reading for an audition and got the job! She then spent the next 2 years touring internationally with them.

She had been dragged around folk festivals and gigs from a few weeks old as my parents played in a ceilidh band (often in the wings in a cot). Towersey and Cropredy Festivals were the family's annual Summer holidays. After a few years of musical promiscuity where she played with Firebrand, Little Johnny England, Robb Johnson, Bill Jones, Steafan Hannigan, Reg Meuross, Kirsty McGee, The Phil Beer Band, Martyn Joseph and The Scoville Units she depped for Pete Zorn in the 2004 Show Of Hands festival band line up.

Miranda has played with SOH ever since, whilst finding time for the Miranda Sykes Band in 2005 and extensive touring and several albums both solo and in a duo with mandolin player Rex Preston.When not on the road with Show of Hands, she still tours solo - accompanying her beautiful voice with double bass/guitar. During lockdown 1.0 she recorded her most recent album The Farmhouse Sessions. Miranda is currently working on an album for a duo tour in September with the wonderful Hannah Martin from Edgelarks and of course she is touring for the first time with Daphne's Flight.

bottom of page