At the age of thirteen she formed the Waterdaughters with her mother, aunt (Lal Waterson) and cousin Maria Knight. She has subsequently worked with Nancy Kerr, with her parents as Waterson:Carthy, and as part of the "supergroup" Blue Murder, in addition to her own solo work. She went to school at Fyling Hall School in North Yorkshire.
Eliza Carthy led the vocals as a member of Blue Murder on the song "I Bid You Goodnight" found on the CD tribute to the music of Joseph Spence & the Pinder family called Out On the Rolling Sea (1994) (Green Linnet). Along with Eliza are Lal Waterson, Norma Waterson, Jim Boyes, Martin Carthy, Barry Coope, Lester Simpson and Mike Waterson.
She has twice been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize for UK album of the year: in 1998 for Red Rice, and again in 2003 for Anglicana. Eliza was a guest on the album Mermaid Avenue by Billy Bragg and Wilco. Eliza and Billy also recorded together on the song "My Father's Mansions" which appeared on the Pete Seeger tribute album called Where Have All The flowers Gone (1998).
In September 2002 Eliza took part in the Tribute concert for Kirsty MacColl, "The Song's the Thing" along with other artists. Her rousing rendition of Kirsty's works produced rapturous applause and she was to comment on how happy she was to have discovered Kirsty's music and having met so many nice people that evening.
In 2003 Eliza swept the boards at the Radio 2 Folk Awards, winning Folk Singer of the Year, Best Album (for Anglicana) and Best Traditional Track (for "Worcester City", on the album Anglicana). She was also the first traditional English musician to be nominated for a BBC Radio 3 Award for World Music in the same year (for Anglicana).
In 2004 she was part of Oysterband Big Session, a collaboration with numerous folk artists brought together by Oysterband. They produced an album The Big Session Volume One, and the group as a whole were awarded Best Group at the Folk Awards in 2005.
On May 29, 2005, Eliza took part in a tribute to Peggy Seeger at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London. A double CD Three Score and Ten (2007) contains highlights on the concert.
[ - 20th July 2008]] In 2006 she contributed three songs (one as lead localist, two as backing vocalist) to Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys, produced by Hal Willner. Performing as a duo with Richard Thompson, she contributed "The Coo Coo Bird" to a boxed set called The Harry Smith Project (2006) also by Hal Willner. As a duo with Bob Neuwirth, she sang "I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground" by Bascom Lamar Lunsford on the same boxed set.
Dreams of Breathing Underwater, Eliza's second collection of entirely self penned songs was released on 23 June 2008. Combining traditional instrumentation with experimental arrangements, and drawing influences from all aspects of her career so far, the album was conceived as the follow-up to 2000's Angels and Cigarettes and has been in the making for the best part of seven years.
Carthy's 2008 tour was cancelled in November due to a cyst on her throat making singing inconsistent and painful. Due to her pregnancy, doctors are delaying treatment until spring 2009.
She became a mother to Florence Daisy on 24th December 2008.
The St George's Day Celebrations in Trafalgar Square on April 25 2009 were opened by Carthy who also performed two songs
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