The hauntingly soulful voice that accompanies the opening credits to the BBC One drama Wallander is that of singer songwriter Emily Barker, who plays at this year’s Folk by the Oak at Hatfield House.

Composer Martin Phipps asked Emily to rework her song Nostalgia for the TV series, which stars Kenneth Branagh as jaded Swedish detective Kurt Wallander. The song won a BAFTA and a Royal Television Society award for best soundtrack and Martin has gone on to use another of Emily’s soaring ballads, Pause, as the theme tune to the BBC2 noir thriller The Shadow Line.

Nostalgia is from Emily’s 2008 album Despite The Snow and it recalls the regrets of leaving all your love behind.
Emily, who now lives in Stroud, previously spent six years living on a narrowboat on London’s Regent’s canal but her songs hark back to her childhood in Australia.
The name of her band The Red Clay Halo makes reference to her roots as well.

“It’s an old Gillian Welch song all about being a girl from the country and no matter what she does she can’t get the red dirt out from under nails and from the collar of her dresses,“ says Emily. “It reminds me of home.“

The all-female four-piece band features Emily on guitar and lead vocals, Jill Sendell on accordion, flute, piano and guitar, cellist Jo Silverston and violinist Anna Jenkins. “The halo is for the four of us working together and singing four-part harmonies,“ Emily adds.

To recruit her co-musicians Emily attended gigs until she found what she was looking for rather than putting out a request or holding auditions. It’s part of a direct approach which also saw her self-finance three albums including the critically acclaimed 2011 release Almanac.

I ask Emily why she chose to go it alone rather than sign to a label?
“It’s been really interesting creatively and I enjoy the challenge of having to fundraise to make an album. We held a series of house concerts after contacting everyone from our email list. It was at one of these house gigs in Tufnell Park where Martin heard me play Nostalgia and said he’d really like to use it for a theme-tune.

“We funded the second album through PledgeMusic where fans can be involved in purchasing incentives and you can give whatever you like. My attitude has always been just get on with it and find a way to make it work rather than waiting for an opportunity to come along.“

I ask what she’s looking forward to seeing at the festival?
“I saw Cara Dillon at the Cambridge Folk Festival and she has a beautiful voice. The great thing about festivals is you can just stumble across bands you’ve never seen or heard of and get a taster of those you’ve been curious about.“

As well as a list of folk performers, there are family events including a craft tent, workshops, children’s activities, storytelling and circus skills.

Hatfield House, Sunday, July 22. Details: 01432 355416,