Val Murphy


Val Murphy has been a 1960s folk queen and a foot-stomping blues singer. She’s co-written pioneering rock pop musicals and rock operas, been a session vocalist on records and television, an actor on screen and stage, and a core member of a groundbreaking women’s music collective. And some of her best music remains unheard.

It was as a folk singer that Val Murphy first became known, but in the late 50s it was rock’n’roll that lit her fuse. Growing up in Levin, hers was a household in which a broad range of music was appreciated, from folk songs to opera.

Max & Val's House Warming - an EP for Shell Oil (1967), advertising oil-fired central home heating. Max Winnie and Val Murphy were joined by The Bluegrass Gang (Colleen Bain, Paul Trenwith, Colin Heath, and Frank Sillay). 'Get a Warm Home Cindy' was the opening track. 
Musicians featured on the Web Women’s Collective album ‘Out of the Corners’ (1982). Back row, from left: Mahinaarangi Tocker, Val Murphy, Lynda Topp, Di Cadwallader, Jess Hawk Oakenstar. Middle: Jools Topp, Hattie St John, Mereana Pitman, Tracy Huirama. Front: Clare Bear, Hilary King.
Photo credit: Gil Hanly
Val Murphy at the Good Noise Blues Club, Wellington
Val Murphy's debut LP, My Way of Singing (HMV, 1965). Three of her songs were included: 'What Shall I Call the Baby?', 'The Kiwi', and a co-write with Ken Pearson, 'Paihia'.
Photo credit: Hubert Sieben
‘The Middle Of The Day’ (from Jenifer) - demo sung by Val Murphy
Front cover of the 1965 LP Folk Concert Down Under (HMV MCLP 6205). Traditional folk interpreted by Val Murphy, Rod MacKinnon, Arthur Toms, Dave Whaley, Don King, the Festival Singers, Dave Corn, and John, Geoff and Linda (John Lander, Geoff Hargreaves, and Linda Sacklin).
Photo credit: Ross Hawkes
Val Murphy - part two of the Blues News interview by John Davidson, 1969
"Folk concert down under". An evening with Rod MacKinnon, Val Murphy and other leading folk performers, Wellington, 1965. 
Photo credit: Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, N.Z. ref Eph-A-MUSIC-WFC-1965-01
Out of the Corners: a compilation album of female artists, produced by the Web Women's Collective, 1982. 
Val Murphy backed by the Capel Hopkins Blues Band: Gerald Bull, left, Neil Hannan, right. 
Photo credit: Good Noise
Val Murphy at the National Folk Festival, Wellington, 1969
Val Murphy 
Val Murphy at the Monde Marie, Wellington, 1960s. 
Photo credit: Wellington City Council Archives, BO001-6
Val Murphy as Molly in Wild Man (1977)
Val Murphy and Clive Cockburn, Playdate, October 1970 
Val Murphy, interviewed by John Davidson for Blues News issue three, 1969. 
Photo credit: Stephen Roth
Val Murphy - Until It's Time For You To Go (HMV, 1965)
Val Murphy, from Blues News issue three, 1969
Photo credit: Stephen Roth
Val and Clive - Lucky for me
Valdramar Scene 1
Val Murphy - Love Song from Villa 6 (1982)
Val Murphy - A Time To Sing (HMV, 1966). 
Val Murphy: part three of the Blues News interview by John Davidson, 1969
Val Murphy, from Blues News number three, 1969. "From folk music I selected blues because now I feel as though I can sing it."
Photo credit: Stephen Roth
Val Murphy - A Time To Sing (HMV, 1966). Val Murphy’s second album featured four of her originals, ‘Field of Flowers’, ‘Wagon of Fools’, ‘Tall and Dark’, and ‘Sing to Me of Children’. Accompanying her were Slim Dorward on bass, Max Winnie on banjo, and Warwick Brock on harmonica.
Val and Clive - People Are Waiting (HMV, 1970)
Val Murphy
The back cover of Val Murphy’s debut album, 1965. In the liner notes the HMV producer Nick Karavias writes: “When Val Murphy sings the lucky listener is treated to the best of two possible worlds – the world of music and the world of drama … For Val does not merely sing a song – she sings a story, as each song possesses a special meaning for her.”
"I'm no banner-waver," says Val Murphy, Playdate, August 1967
Photo credit: Tony Ward
Val Murphy appears at a University of Canterbury folk concert, 9 June 1966.
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