Whether hidden in the bushes, twitching or creating extraordinary music, Simon Emmerson was always passionate, excitable and ambitious. It is all of these qualities that had led him, as an artist and composer, on an amazing musical journey through acid jazz, electro-acoustic music, Afro Celt Sound System and back to his own English folk roots with The Imagined Village project. As a producer he worked with so many great artists from so many cultures and in each case found ways to connect, earn trust and help them realise all their musical ambitions; including Morocco’s Hassan Hakmoun, Maryam Mursal from Somalia, and Senegal’s Baaba Maal. In most recent years he ended up as musical director creating ambient and meditative music for LUSH.
When we had artists, writers, and producers from around the world together for our 1995 Real World Recording Week, it brought all the studio to life in a wonderful way. Simon loved the idea of mixing everything up and came up with the idea of creating a brand new group specifically to mix African and Celtic musicians, the Afro Celt Sound System. Catching them in full flight was always a real treat for any open-minded music fan.
Simon had great breadth of knowledge of all the world of music and once he had set his passion and his heart on something, there was no dissuading him. As most who knew him well can attest, he could be an awkward and obstinate collaborator, but it was always about the mission — not about him — and his generosity and sense of humour would usually shine on through.
Looking back from when I first met him thirty or more years ago, I can see so many ways in which his aspirations, musicality and determination have touched all of us, changed things for the better and made our lives richer.
From all of us at Real World and WOMAD, you will always be remembered here as a fundamental part of our family Simon.
A very big thank you.