FolkWorld #77 03/2022
© Richard Penguin Press & Promotion

  The Beast by Ray Cooper from the album Land of Heroes 2021 out on Westpark Music.

A Lot of Stories

Former Oysterband man Ray Cooper has been nominated for Male artist of the year in the current Fatea magazine awards ( and is set to play a short UK tour.

Ray Cooper

Artist Video Ray Cooper @ FROG

Ray Cooper is an acoustic singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, he accompanies his songs with a cello, mandolin, guitar and piano, each song comes with a story, and Ray has a lot of stories. Ray has been nominated in the male artist of the year category in the current Fatea magazine awards.

Ray Cooper started to play in bands when he was 16. After Art College in Brighton, he joined punk band Amazorblades, moved to London and began to work with other groups and genres. By the time he joined the 3 Mustaphas 3 in 1982, he was already an experienced session musician and had worked with a number of producers: Steve Lillywhite, Martin Rushent, Phil Chevron, Joe Jackson, Pete Bellotte, Aki Dean, and Edwin Starr. He had been moving between rock, punk, pop and world music, and working as a singer, bass guitar player and cellist, before he finally hooked up with Oysterband and began a long exploration into his own roots.

Land of Heroes

Artist Audio Ray Cooper "Land of Heroes", Westpark, 2021

After moving to Sweden in the year 2000, Cooper continued playing with Oysterband, eventually touring in 27 countries and recording 19 albums. In 2012 they won 3 awards from BBC Radio 2’s Folk Awards for best group, best album and best traditional track, appeared on the Later with Jools Holland show and were dubbed by FROOTS magazine as one of the 3 ‘Icons of Folk’. Despite their success, Cooper took the decision to leave the band and go solo in 2013. He has since carved out a successful solo career, recording four solo albums and has toured extensively in Britain, Northern Europe and Canada.

Stories are at the centre of Ray's work and his fourth album Land of Heroes is released in April 2021 follows the question who today’s heroes are. He finds them in all walks of life – from journalists to whistleblowers, from hospital nurses, to a prince and a close friend who died. The album was written and recorded within five months during the summer of 2020 in a small wooden cabin close to the forest in Sweden after all Ray's touring was cancelled due to the pandemic. The album uses a haunting soundscape of acoustic instruments all played by himself. The only additions were some backing vocals from British singer-songwriter Rowan Godel done over the internet.

The title Land of Heroes is taken from the Finnish Kalevala epic’s subtitle and there is a curious Finnish thread running through the album; the kantele, a kind of Finnish harp, is present in the background of many tracks, and the instrumental “Ilmarinen’s Ride” is named after one of the brave but rather unlucky heroes of the Kalevala.

  Eyes of Mercy featuring Rowan Godel. This song is dedicated to the doctors and nurses that work in the NHS.

Photo Credits: (1)-(2) Ray Cooper (by Walkin' Tom).

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