Born in 1975 in Scarborough, Eliza could hardly escape the music of her parents, folk legends Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson. She was quickly inducted into the Watersons' ranks, choosing to play fiddle and working extensively with Norma, Lal, Mike and Rachel Waterson (Rachel being in the original Blue Murder), with father Martin Carthy and with Maria Gilhooley, Lal and Norma as The Waterdaughters.
In 1990 she met fiddle player Nancy Kerr. They toured together as a duo and recorded two acclaimed albums, Eliza Carthy & Nancy Kerr (1993) and Shape of Scrape (1995), the former including her first self-composition, "The Wrong Favour'. Between albums she teamed up with her parents as Waterson:Carthy to record one of the best-received English folk albums for several years, voted Folk Roots’ Critic's Choice of 1994. February 1996 saw the release of her debut solo album, Heat, Light & Sound, (1996) . Eliza Carthy And The Kings Of Calicutt (1997) and Red Rice (1998) were albums that cemented Eliza's growing reputation in the folk world. She was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize as a result of Red Rice and a major label contract soon followed. Her debut for the label, Angels & Cigarettes, was released in September 2000.
Eliza returned to a more traditional sound on the critically-acclaimed Anglicana (2002), winning a record 3 trophies at the 2003 BBC2 UK Folk Awards (Folk Singer of the Year, Best Album and Best Traditional Track for Worcester City on Anglicana) and receiving a second Mercury Music Prize nomination. Since 1999 she has appeared at innumerable festivals, including Glastonbury and Womad, toured extensively with Waterson:Carthy and her own band, Eliza Carthy and the Ratcatchers, and has recently undertaken broadcasting work for the BBC on both radio and television.