Carmen Tanti, voice of Maltese folk revival band The Greenfields, passes away

Distinctive harmonising vocalist who formed The Greenfields with husband Joe Tanti, passes away at 75

Carmen Tanti
Carmen Tanti

Carmen Tanti, the singer of Maltese folk group The Greenfields, has passed away. She was 75.

Tanti was married to her co-singer husband Joe Tanti, with whom she had two children, Clive and Mayra.

Three years before marriage in 1973, the Tantis formed The Greenfields with co-singer and guitarist Charles Bajada. Since then, the sound and voice of The Greenfields became a staple of contemporary Maltese folk singing, inspired in part by the folk revival of the early 1970s.

It was the unlikely success of a ‘folk music-themed’ mass at the Little Sister of the Poor chapel in Hamrun, that saw The Greenfields broadcast live to the Maltese audiences on Television Malta. The founder of the Cana Movement, Fr Charles Movement, then invited the trio to his Good Friday broadcast, Djalogu, for what was to become The Greenfields’ first TV appearance on 6 March 1970.

From then onwards, the band became a constant presence on Maltese television, with Carmen Tanti’s voice, akin to that of The Australian Seekers’ Judith Durham, becoming instantly recognisable.

They then appeared on Ittra Ittra, winning a regular slot on Malteen and Karusell, Favoriti, Folklobeat and Għalenija.

But it was the fusion of traditional għana-type songs and contemporary folk that created a new Maltese sound that would define The Greenfields, with songs like ‘Il-Karrozzin’, ‘Il-Vapur tal-Art’, ‘Il-Banda t’Indri’, “It-Terramaxka’, and ‘Il-Lift Tal-Barrakk’ among others – all songs harking to a slowly forgotten past, depicting Maltese customs today extinct.

As cabaret regulars in various hotels around Malta, The Greenfields would also sing and play along with Rolf Harris, as well as Italina stars Albana and Romina Power, and Ivana Spagna, the Italian TV dancer Don Lurio, British pop band Brotherhood Of Man, and also support Raffaella Carrà in her four shows in Malta in 1977, as well as for The Platters during their Malta show in 1978.

In 1990, the band was shocked by the untimely departure of Charles Bajada, who passed away that year, with the Tantis continuing their musical journey as a folk duo.