Text size

Named for the Greek Goddess of Communication, Iris are an exciting new band, unique in the folk world in that they incorporate Makaton signing in to all their performances.

Henry Webster, Cat Kelly, Pete Ord, Ollie KingCat Kelly (vocals & Makaton signing), Henry Webster (fiddle), Ollie King (melodeon), and Pete Ord (guitar) came together in late 2014 as part of the Makaton-Folk project, part of an accessibility drive by the festival Folk Weekend: Oxford. The aim of the project was to produce a high quality performance set of folk songs which were also accessible to people with communication difficulties.

After a hugely successful first performance at Folk Weekend in April 2015, Iris are continuing together as a band, bringing the music that they love to a variety of audiences, many of whom will not have been able to access it in the past.

"Melodeon, violin and guitar entwine in a pageant of folk songs, both traditional and home-grown, with Cat’s accompanying vocals and gestures. There is something to suit all tastes and language levels, from narrative songs of the fox and goose-o to moving ballads of fallen soldiers. Each one is supported by simple interpretive Makaton gestures, with easy sign-along choruses, modelled beforehand by Cat. She takes care to explain the programme as it progresses at a suitable pace for the relaxed crowd, even warning us when we are likely to be moved to tears. No crying on the day I witnessed it, just spontaneous dancing in the aisles." -- audience member

Why Makaton?

Singer Cat Kelly says "People with communication difficulties often inhabit a confusing world, which can move very fast around them and leave them feeling excluded, and frustrated. I'm not under any illusion that by signing the songs, suddenly every Makaton user will have a perfect understanding of what I'm singing, but by incorporating signs they may recognise I hope I'm actively demonstrating that this is not something that excludes them, but something that they can be included in and enjoy. We [Iris] believe that music and singing are for everyone, and we set out with the intention of helping more people to access the music that we all love."

Makaton is used with the kind permission of The Makaton Charity, all rights reserved. Iris are grateful to Folk Arts Oxford Ltd, the Oxfordshire Community Foundation, and The Folk Camps Society for the opportunity that the Makaton-Folk project has given us.

If you are interested in booking Iris to perform please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Iris: Live at Folk Weekend 2015

Meet the Band

Pete Ord, Cat KellyCat Kelly - vocals & Makaton signing

Cat was inspired to put together the Makaton Folk project after being involved in 'Welcome Songs' for the lighting of the Paralympic Flame in 2012, where she signed alongside Eliza Carthy and her band. Having been brought up with folk music and dance, Cat has spent the last five years working on musical accessibility, and with Iris is able to unite her two musical passions.

Henry WebsterHenry Webster - fiddle

An award-winning fiddle player, Henry is among the latest generation of folk musicians bringing a fresh perspective to the tradition. As well as performing solo, Henry plays with The Will Pound Band and in a duo with guitarist Dave Malkin.

Ollie KingOllie King - melodeon

Ollie is a melodeon player and singer whose music is steeped in the customs and traditions of England, fast making a name for himself as one of the most exciting and interesting melodeon players in the country.

Pete OrdPete Ord - guitar

A producer and sound engineer with a successful record label, Pete's driving guitar rhythms underpin the band's arrangements. He plays regularly with a number of ceilidh bands, but is usually seen in the dark space behind the sound desk!