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Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)

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GUEST,sciencegeek 23 Dec 13 - 11:55 AM
GUEST 23 Dec 13 - 11:29 AM
YorkshireYankee 09 Sep 13 - 12:18 PM
GUEST 07 Sep 13 - 01:56 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 06 Sep 13 - 04:05 PM
Richard Mellish 29 Aug 13 - 01:08 PM
GUEST,c.g. 29 Aug 13 - 06:00 AM
MGM·Lion 29 Aug 13 - 05:40 AM
GUEST,c.g. 29 Aug 13 - 05:09 AM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 28 Aug 13 - 07:20 PM
GUEST,Blandiver 28 Aug 13 - 04:47 PM
MGM·Lion 28 Aug 13 - 12:28 PM
MGM·Lion 28 Aug 13 - 12:25 PM
GUEST,Steve Roud 28 Aug 13 - 11:19 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 28 Aug 13 - 07:21 AM
Jim Martin 28 Aug 13 - 07:00 AM
MGM·Lion 28 Aug 13 - 05:49 AM
MGM·Lion 28 Aug 13 - 05:39 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 28 Aug 13 - 04:50 AM
Reinhard 28 Aug 13 - 01:00 AM
Continuity Jones 27 Aug 13 - 03:01 PM
GUEST,Blandiver 27 Aug 13 - 11:49 AM
Elmore 27 Aug 13 - 11:36 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 27 Aug 13 - 08:48 AM
GUEST,c.g. 27 Aug 13 - 08:01 AM
MGM·Lion 27 Aug 13 - 07:09 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 27 Aug 13 - 06:13 AM
MGM·Lion 27 Aug 13 - 05:27 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 27 Aug 13 - 05:11 AM
MGM·Lion 27 Aug 13 - 04:18 AM
GUEST,Sean Breadin (Sedayne / Blandiver) 27 Aug 13 - 04:12 AM
GUEST,Mary Katherine 26 Aug 13 - 10:18 PM
ChanteyLass 26 Aug 13 - 09:40 PM
Desert Dancer 26 Aug 13 - 12:44 PM
Desert Dancer 26 Aug 13 - 12:40 PM
nutty 23 Aug 13 - 06:11 AM
RiGGy 22 Aug 13 - 01:47 PM
GUEST,Ellen Vannin 21 Aug 13 - 02:13 PM
GUEST 21 Aug 13 - 01:03 PM
GUEST,Ellen Vannin 21 Aug 13 - 06:07 AM
Desert Dancer 20 Aug 13 - 10:49 PM
GUEST,addison 20 Aug 13 - 01:38 PM
GUEST,GUEST, Dwayne Thorpe 16 Aug 13 - 11:01 AM
GUEST,bigJ 16 Aug 13 - 05:50 AM
Jeri 15 Aug 13 - 08:07 PM
GUEST 15 Aug 13 - 07:50 PM
Elmore 15 Aug 13 - 06:16 PM
GUEST,spiral earth 15 Aug 13 - 05:57 PM
Ed Brown 15 Aug 13 - 07:01 AM
GUEST,Greg&Rosalie Clarke 14 Aug 13 - 08:53 PM
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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 23 Dec 13 - 11:55 AM

Lou's friends here across the pond will honor her memory at the various venues and festivals as they come up... it's a big hole to fill.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Dec 13 - 11:29 AM

Guest, plans for a memorial concert are well advanced- 18 January at
Caedmon Hall in Gateshead, Louis(a)'s home town...info from Gateshead Council


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: YorkshireYankee
Date: 09 Sep 13 - 12:18 PM

Last Word 's piece included the host speaking to "her friends, fellow musicians Sam Lee and Sandra Kerr".

It has some nice samples of Louis singing, too...


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Sep 13 - 01:56 PM

I hear there are vague plans for concerts to mark the passing of a great original performer- anyone got details?


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 06 Sep 13 - 04:05 PM

Making up for the short item on Folk Show on BBC Radio2, today's Radio4 obituary programme Last Word broadcast a longer tribute today (with some song clips too). The item is at 11:15-16:20.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 29 Aug 13 - 01:08 PM

When someone has appeared, acted and functioned as a man, with a male name, for most of a lifetime but then publicly changed name and gender, there seems to be no right choice of name and pronoun that won't annoy someone: and that's a shame when we are (I hope) all absolutely united in our gratitude for the singing and saddened by the death.

FWIW I'm with Michael in considering it appropriate to use the name and pronoun corresponding to the gender at the time of the recording or event in question.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: GUEST,c.g.
Date: 29 Aug 13 - 06:00 AM

Not feminism - asking for courtesy for transpeople, who are a group that suffers discrimination even from people who would never dream of being racist or sexist. The correct thing to do is to use the pronoun 'she' for transwomen, even in the past. Transwomen are not 'men who want to be women' or 'men who change into women'. They are people who have always had a female gender identity but a male body. What research there is suggests that this has a physical origin.

Do what you think right. I am not prepared to turn Louisa's obit thread into a row with you.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 29 Aug 13 - 05:40 AM

I would point out, c.g., that it was not the name that was in question in the post of mine to which you took exception, but the referential pronoun. When a record was made under the name of Louis Killen, I consider it would be inaccurate to use any other than the male pronoun in reference to the singer performing on it. Any work done after the time the name and the gender-identity had changed would be a different matter; but none such was in question in that particular post. I am sure you mean well, but your feminist principles appear to me to have overcome your judgment on this occasion.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: GUEST,c.g.
Date: 29 Aug 13 - 05:09 AM

MGM - I have, I believe I have seen a couple of posts where you have protested about someone using an inaccurate form of your name. Please extend the courtesy the require for yourself to Louisa.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 28 Aug 13 - 07:20 PM

Away out on the Mountains is Roud No 15887, though the jane Turriff recording is not listed - 2 American versions are included though.....
Derek


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 28 Aug 13 - 04:47 PM

So - a faux traditional idiomatic folk song becomes a real traditional folk song simply because it's collected from someone who somehow qualifies as a 'Traditional Folk Singer'? Baffling. But in 40 years of random folkery I confess to being just as baffled now by the murky minutiae of Folk Jurisprudence as ever I was.

I wonder, does that mean Jane Turriff's rendering of Away Out on the Mountain get a Round number too?


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Aug 13 - 12:28 PM

... tho I take it you would agree with my contention above that Louis would not have attributed it as "Traditional" on the apparatus to any of his records or publications, but that it would have said "MacColl" inside the brackets after the title?

~M~
Previous thread on the song shoals of herring. Some of the discussion is about Killen's singing of it


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Aug 13 - 12:25 PM

Many thanks, Steve. I should have remembered that history. Greatly appreciate your prompt response.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: GUEST,Steve Roud
Date: 28 Aug 13 - 11:19 AM

Shoals of Herring has been collected at least twice, to my knowledge, from traditional singers, so it goes in the Index. It's not the origin of a song which makes it 'folk' or 'traditional' but what happens to it if it is picked up and sung/passed on within a tradition.
SR


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 28 Aug 13 - 07:21 AM

What Michael said.

I think it's highly commendable in the generally conservative & otherwise reactionary realms of the Folk World that Louis' gender-reassignment was so widely accepted. I know it's not universal & it's still the elephant in the room impeding the discussion of her recent passing with certain of his old friends, fans & colleagues.

It's odd but as a part-time Folky (at best) all the transsexual people I've known personally over the years (all erstwhile men, about 5 in all, excluding LJ) have been Folkies. In a realm where the demarcations between Traditional & Revival & Regional & Racial & Authentic & Pure Blood are usually carved in stone by a Purist Priesthood, I find it heartening that Personal Gender is accepted as being mutable, despite a general conservatism with respect of radicalised sexual politics per se. Well I remember having to take one of such person to task for homophobic gestures in one of her songs, during which she admitted to her disapproval of male homosexuality - & saw no problem, as a woman, in feeling that way. Go figure, as they say. As a happily heterosexual male I walked proudly among my LGBTQIA brothers and sisters at Manchester Pride at the weekend, roundly scolding the Catholic & Christian Adam & Steve Hate Brigade handing out their rancid phobias in pamphlet form.

RIP Louisa Jo. With more admiration & respect than I could ever put into words.

Louisa Jo Killen - The Bonny Bunch of Roses


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: Jim Martin
Date: 28 Aug 13 - 07:00 AM

The Guardian eventually got around to publishing their obit (hard copy) on Mon 26/08!


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Aug 13 - 05:49 AM

GUESTcg: Thank you for your comment on my post yesterday. As I was referring specifically to recordings which Lou had made some years ago, clearly identified as being by "Louis Killen", I considered it in that context appropriate to use the male pronoun. I still consider it so, and hope nobody will take any principled exception to this.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Aug 13 - 05:39 AM

What criteria, then, does Steve Roud use? I think we should be told.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 28 Aug 13 - 04:50 AM

Thanks for that, Reinhard. I'd always assumed the Roud index to be a list of bona fide Traditional Folk Songs, and that Michael was quoting the Round Number of The Blackleg Miner to drive this point home. So - curiouser and curiouser!

Anyway, not sure if anyone's linked to this yet:

Louis Killen - Pleasant & Delightful, The Bridge 50th, 2008


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: Reinhard
Date: 28 Aug 13 - 01:00 AM

Blandiver, Shoals of Herring is Roud 13642.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: Continuity Jones
Date: 27 Aug 13 - 03:01 PM

From the Independent -

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/lou-killen-singer-in-the-vanguard-of-britains-folk-revival-8784372.html


Lou Killen was one of the most coruscating and most commanding folk singers of Britain's post-war folk revival – and, indeed, of all time. Once Killen sang a song, it had the Killen imprint. Certain traditional songs, most famously "The Flying Cloud", came stamped with "Property of Lou Killen".

Part of the second wave after Bert Lloyd and Ewan MacColl, he created an unparalleled body of work: as a soloist; in duos with singers Isla Cameron, Peter Bellamy, Sally Killen and Mike Waterson; in collaborations on the McColl-Charles Parker-Peggy Seeger Radio Ballads; with Pete Seeger; and, between 1971 and 1974, with the US-based Clancy Brothers – in which he described his role as "Tommy Makem Jnr", referring to the man into whose shoes he had stepped. In folk musician Emily Portman's words, Killen "closed the gap" between the generations, similarly influencing today's Alex Neilson of Trembling Bells, Jackie Oates and James Yorkston.

In 1966 Izzy Young nailed his colours to the mast in Sing Out!, North America's folk magazine of record. In an article republished in The Conscience of the Folk Revival – The Writings of Israel "Izzy" Young (2013), he wrote: "Mr Killen brings you back to the word, to the story, and all unscathed by accompaniment. And when he uses the concertina it is only to help the word, not hide it in adornment. Songs you've forgotten magically have story lines again."

Louis Killen was the youngest of four sons born to Mary Margaret (née Nolan) and Francis Killen in 1934 on Tyneside. "We didn't think of ourselves as Northumbrians," Killen told me in 1991. "We were Geordies because we came from the industrial Tyne." Growing up he heard songs, sometimes in their genteel parlour form, that he took to be Geordie songs without knowing what they were. At home there were sing-arounds with repertoire fed by wireless programmes such as Country Magazine and songbooks like Catcheside-Warrington's Tyneside Songs. "My mother was Irish but I didn't get any mass of Irish traditional songs from my mother," he said. "What we got was Thomas Moore songs. I have this whole sense in my mind of the six of us singing together. Everything was grist to the mill in our family. None of us read music but we all had great ears."

Jazz and country music fed his head. At 16 he delivered a lecture based on "a couple of chapters of Mezz Mezzrow's Really The Blues" at Newcastle Rhythm Club. In 1957, while staying at Oxford's Catholic Workers' College, he discovered the university's folk music Heritage Society. His knowledge of folk music expanded exponentially. Returning to Tyneside he co-founded Newcastle's Folk Song & Ballad Club in 1958, one of the nation's first folk clubs.

In 1959, using his British Rail staff pass, he visited Ballads & Blues in Holborn, London's leading folk club hosted by Lloyd, MacColl and Seeger. Having impressed MacColl on a previous visit, that Saturday he was offered work on the second Radio Ballad, "Song of a Road" (1959), about the building of the M1, which was due to start the following Monday. He raced back, grabbed his gear, lost his job and started a long-running collaboration with MacColl & Co ("until '64 or so, when we drew apart") that brought them into the orbit of the thriving Newcastle folk scene.

Two Radio Ballads followed with Killen's involvement: "The Big Hewer" (1961), about mining, and "On the Edge" (1963) about teenagers. Coevally Killen masterminded an ambitious project of North-eastern songs, later anthologised as Along The Coaly Tyne and originally released as a triptych of EPs during 1962. Charles Fox in The Gramophone hailed him "an extremely fine young singer from Gateshead". That year he was one of the musicians that joined the TUC-sponsored Centre 42 performing arts tour. "To actually earn a living singing was the Ninth Wonder of the World; as far as I was concerned, it was a dream that I didn't really think I could attain until I was 28."

In April 1967 Killen emigrated to the US, his consummate Ballads And Broadsides (1965), with notes by Angela Carter and its buccaneering ballad "The Flying Cloud", creating an unrivalled calling card, honed ballads and nautical songs a speciality. The US remained his base until he returnedto Gateshead in 2004.

As Louisa Killen she courageously chose to live her last years as a woman. Initially she told only close friends about her wish to undergo transgender treatment. By 2011 she had successfully lived as Louisa Killen and was accepted for more advanced transgender treatment. Throughout Margaret proved a tower of strength and for extended stints returned from the US to care for her ex-husband.

Ever-opinionated, at a concert together in 2008, Louisa wondered aloud about the latest folk singers, "Do they ever sing these songs for pleasure without it being performance?" Sometimes doctrinaire, sometimes arrogant, as Izzy Young wrote, Killen was "the most uncompromising of the second generation of English city folk singers."

Louis Joseph (later Louisa Jo) Killen, singer and musician: born Gateshead, Co Durham 10 January 1934; married 1966 Rochelle (Shelly) Hope Estrin, 1972 Sally Hamilton Jennings, 1979 Margaret Jeanne Osika; died Gateshead 9 August 2013.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 27 Aug 13 - 11:49 AM

Not an argument, Elmore - just an affirmation (and celebration) of the priceless legacy of one of the greatest folk singers of the revival arising from a point that I couldn't see go unchallenged as their life, art & example was so much more than that.

With Respect, Remembrance and Gratitude.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: Elmore
Date: 27 Aug 13 - 11:36 AM

No place for an argument. RIP, Louisa.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 27 Aug 13 - 08:48 AM

No retraction, Michael. Just out there (in the real world), the distinction is ultimately meaningless; just as in here (in the folk world), the distinction is debatable despite it being one of the shibboleths of the entrenched Revival Orthodoxy, none of whom (least of all yourself) I would I ever expect to agree with a more radical perspective. Forgive me, I've just re-read Dave Harker's Fakesong (OU, 1985) and agreed with every word - especially the bit where he talks about favouring description over prescription.

In the Life, Art and Example of Louis Killen he gave equal weight to the substance of material generated by the perception of The Tradition, whatever the mechanics of that Tradition are believed to have been. And just as The Shoals of Herring was written, then so was The Blackleg Miner - and subsequently set it in stone and sourced (if I remember rightly) to a nameless singer in Barnard Castle. Two points here:

1) Barnard Castle is geographically & culturally far removed from Delaval & Seghill, and whilst many miners were indeed peripatetic, in the Durham Coal-field there are far more extreme examples of milantism than anything you'll find in Northumberland. We might think of Chopwell or Stanley which were notorious in their day. Even to this day they have streets named after Marx and Lenin, who along with Kier Hardie, are proudly depicted on the banner of the Chopwell lodge of the NUM. You won't find anything quite as radicalised in Seghill or Delaval - indeed, the recent death of Lord Hastings has brought to an end over 900 years of a familial feudal continuity going back to the Norman Conquest.   

2) I grew up near Delaval & Seghill and had many friends and family there across the years & generations of my childhood. I always found it interesting that whilst my middle-class folky school-teachers were fond of playing us the Steeleye Span recording of Blackleg Miner in order to tell us about Our Folk Heritage, no one out there in the Real World - none of my friends or family who included very real traditional singers & musicians - had actually heard of it. In recent years we've come to know why that is - because A L Lloyd collected it from the Piltdown Man.

Whatever the case, the fact remains that both of these songs are absolutely crucial to the political weight of the Folk Revival, and were rightly sung with equal passion by Louis Killen. The recordings I've linked to are legendary in the very emotive sense of that Tradition irrespective of who wrote them, and why. I notice that The Trimdon Grange Explosion has a Roud Number (3189) despite the fact that we knew who wrote it (and on what occasion) and regard his song-craft as every bit as gifted and politically pointed as that of Ewan MacColl, who was born 5 years before Tommy Armstrong died. I wonder, will Shoals of Herring ever get a Roud number?

Louis Killen was possessed of a crusading cultural zeal, as I recall it, and have never forgotten it, vividly, down the years right up to when I last heard him sing in a singaround at The Cumberland Arms in Byker maybe 5 years ago. Part of that - a huge part of that, I'd say - has to be the aforementioned inclusivity of material to the cultural, political & human cause of Folk, which is its very life-blood and from which we may draw strength.

Where I belong, grown men weep to sing these songs - and we have Louis Killen to thank for nailing them with the definitive mastery which will, I'm sure, outlive the whole bally lot of us.   

Louis Killen - The Trimdon Grange Explosion


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: GUEST,c.g.
Date: 27 Aug 13 - 08:01 AM

Louisa. She. On her obit thread you could at least acknowledge her right to be her real self.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Aug 13 - 07:09 AM

A barren argument, Sean; & as you say rather out of place here. But you raised the topic & tried rather disingenuously to retract on it. So I will point out that Louis himself would never have consented to Shoals Of Herring being attributed as 'Traditional' in any publication or on the apparatus of any record with which he was connected. With Blackleg Miner, he did ~~ by default, if not specifically, as on The Iron Muse, with Bert's notes about variants in Nova Scotia &c.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 27 Aug 13 - 06:13 AM

Like I say, Michael, the legacy of Louis Killen is one defined by (and defining of) the very inclusivity of The Folk Idiom, however so derived, contived, or else bickered over in the backrooms of the Mudcat Cafe. Those very 'Tradition Idioms' (to use Bellamy's term) have seeded, rooted, fruited in some land the lore calls Folk where the rule is very much that Folk is as Folk does, regardless.

That's a fine legacy right there, one that gives us pause to ponder the notion of Traditional as perceived by outsiders and insiders alike. Empirically, and pragmatically, I'd say Shoals of Herring is just as Traditional in that sense as Blackleg Miners though I wouldn't expect many here to agree with me.

Louis Killen - Shoals of Herring


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Aug 13 - 05:27 AM

Agreed, in general. So why post on it in such dubious terms?

But ~~~~

Blackleg Miners (Roud 3193)


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 27 Aug 13 - 05:11 AM

Sorry, Michael - anywhere else I'd be only too happy to play, but not on this thread...

Blackleg Miner - Louis Killen & Colin Ross (1962)


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Aug 13 - 04:18 AM

Blackleg Miner [sic] more claim to traditional status than Shoals of Herring whose provenance has never been in question, Sean. A bit of 'tu quoque' one feels in order when you start accusing people of "quibbling", LoL!

Regards

~M~


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: GUEST,Sean Breadin (Sedayne / Blandiver)
Date: 27 Aug 13 - 04:12 AM

Re the New York Times obit, one error: "Shoals of Herring" is NOT a traditional ballad. It was composed by Ewan MacColl for one of his Radio Ballads series.

Neither is 'The Black Leg Miners' but I fear this isn't the place for such petty quibbling on minor points of pedantry and provenance. Most people reading the obituary won't know, much less care, about the differences much less the finer nuances of the term 'Traditional', or if such nuances have any currency at all in 2013.

The legacy of Louis Killen, the Great North East Folk Song & Ballad Singer, is the story of Folk and all its diverse tributaries that go into the making of a mighty water regardless of any misplaced purism that such-and-such a drop is any more real than any other. He's up there with his old mate Peter Bellamy in that respect. They were both true masters of their art; and that mastery was, and always will be, inspirational and due cause for thanks and celebration.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: GUEST,Mary Katherine
Date: 26 Aug 13 - 10:18 PM

Re the New York Times obit, one error: "Shoals of Herring" is NOT a traditional ballad. It was composed by Ewan MacColl for one of his Radio Ballads series.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: ChanteyLass
Date: 26 Aug 13 - 09:40 PM

Thank you for those articles, Becky. In fact I appreciate all the articles that have been referenced in this thread.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 26 Aug 13 - 12:44 PM

Here's the 1993 Los Angeles Times article mentioned in the NYT obituary: Folk Singer Hears Call of the Sea Chanteys.

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 26 Aug 13 - 12:40 PM

The New York Times has published an obituary. I was wondering if they would.

Louisa Jo Killen, Folk Singer With a Booming Tenor, Dies at 79

By Paul Vitello
New York Times
August 25, 2013

The English folk singer known for most of his life as Louis Killen was a bawdy, bearded pioneer of the 1950s British folk revival, a member of the Clancy Brothers and a soloist admired for giving voice to forgotten miners and sailors in traditional ballads.

In 2010, when he was 76, Mr. Killen surprised his fans and many of his friends by resolving to give voice to another sort of lost life. He began living openly as a woman, performing in women's clothing and a wig. In 2012, he underwent a sex-change operation.

Adopting the name Louisa Jo Killen, she continued to perform for almost two years, by most accounts winning over most of Louis Killen's fans and all of his friends. She died at 79 on Aug. 9 at her home in Gateshead, England, from a recurrence of a cancer diagnosed six years ago, said the singer's former wife, Margaret Osika.

As Louis, Ms. Killen had been among the most influential voices of England's postwar folk music scene, as both a collector and performer of 19th-century ballads and folk songs chronicling the working lives of seamen, coal miners, mill workers and laborers. Folk archivists still consider the dozen recordings made by Louis Killen in the late 1950s and early '60s for the British folk label Topic Records to be the definitive versions of traditional English songs like "The Shoals of Herring," "Black Leg Miners," "Pleasant and Delightful," "The Flying Cloud" and "The Ship in Distress."

Singing a cappella or accompanying himself sparsely on the concertina, Louis Killen was known for his lyrical tenor — a "terrifying decibel rate," as one British critic described it — and a haunting ability to capture the aching loss at the heart of many traditional songs.

"A lot of his songs are not of the jolliest in content," a reviewer for The Living Tradition, a traditional-music magazine published in Scotland, wrote in 2002. "But in his hands, you are impressed by the dignity, rather than the misery."

Moving to the United States in 1966, Mr. Killen met and became friends with his fellow folk singer and archivist Pete Seeger, with whom he performed often over the years. In 1969 he was enlisted as a member of the maiden crew — along with Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Len Chandler, Don McLean and a half-dozen other singers — on the first voyage of Mr. Seeger's Hudson River Sloop Clearwater.

During the seven-week journey from South Bristol, Me., where the sloop was launched, to the South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan, performances by Mr. Seeger and the crew basically paid off the mortgage on the boat, which has since become the floating soapbox and standard-bearer of Mr. Seeger's campaign to clean up the Hudson River.

"Louis was my education about the music of the United Kingdom," Mr. Seeger said in an interview on Wednesday. "He knew all the dialects, taught me many songs." Mr. Seeger sang one over the phone. It was quite bawdy — another genre of traditional song in which Mr. Killen was expert.

In 1970, Mr. Killen joined the popular Irish folk singing group the Clancy Brothers. Fluent in the dialects and song catalogs of traditional Celtic, Scottish and English music, he was drafted to replace Tommy Makem, who had left for a solo career. He stayed for six years, making four albums with the group, including a two-disc "greatest hits" set " in 1973.

In all, Mr. Killen contributed to more than 60 albums in his half-century career, including about a dozen in which he was the featured artist. Until returning to England about five years ago, he performed continuously at small clubs and was a mainstay at folk and maritime music festivals. He lectured widely on English traditional and folk music.

Louis Joseph Killen was born on Jan. 10, 1934, in Gateshead, one of four sons of Mary Margaret and Frank Killen. Both parents and all the brothers sang in the church choir and played stringed instruments or the concertina by ear.

Mr., Killen was studying carpentry at Catholic Workers' College in Oxford when he attended his first folk concert. Enthralled by the music, he came under the influence of the traditional-music revivalists Ewan MacColl and A. L. Lloyd, and by 1961 he had quit his job making cabinets and coffins to pursue music as a career.

He described his early attraction to folk music in a 1993 interview with The Los Angeles Times. "To me," he said, "folk music springs from the unconscious reflection a community has of itself. It's their music, their experience. My survival is based on how the audiences respond to my singing and stories. When we 'connect,' I can't even describe the charge I get."

His decision in 2010 to live as a woman followed almost 30 years of agonizing debate with himself. Ms. Osika, who was married to Mr. Killen from 1979 to 2000, knew about the conflict early, but fans and friends were surprised, she said in a telephone interview on Wednesday, "because Louie had been a very masculine man," known for his pub exploits and racy stories.

She is one of three former wives; the others are Shelly Estrin and Sally Jennings. A brother, Martin, also survives.

Ms. Killen told friends in her last days that she had never regretted her life as a man — or her life, however brief, as a woman. Her only disappointment was in not having acquired a more feminine voice. The singer's trademark strapping tenor remained a constant.

"That part of the change didn't work, I guess you might say," Ms. Osika said.

-----

I appreciate that they named and linked those key songs.

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: nutty
Date: 23 Aug 13 - 06:11 AM

What a great article
Thanks to RiGGy, for posting it


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: RiGGy
Date: 22 Aug 13 - 01:47 PM

I had the great pleasure of interviewing Lou in the mid-90s and having it published by CONCERTINA & SQUEEZEBOX magazine. Great historic pictures, too ! http://riggy.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/louis-killen-interview.pdf


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: GUEST,Ellen Vannin
Date: 21 Aug 13 - 02:13 PM

Expected better of The Guardian.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Aug 13 - 01:03 PM

Editor's choice, not the author's.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: GUEST,Ellen Vannin
Date: 21 Aug 13 - 06:07 AM

'Louis Killen Obituary'. Louis Killen didn't die, Louisa Jo Killen died. I understand that some people have difficulty using the correct, female, pronouns when taking about the past, and that when a performer who is known by more than one name dies it is necessary to refer to both names, but to headline this just 'Louis Killen' is to deny her very existence. Louisa Jo existed. She always existed.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen (1934-2013)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 20 Aug 13 - 10:49 PM

Louis Killen obituary
Member of the Clancy Brothers who was one of the great singers and influential figures of the British folk revival


Derek Schofield
theguardian.com
Monday 19 August 2013

The decision in 2010 by the great Tyneside folk singer Louis Killen to live as a woman came as a surprise to the wider folk music scene in Britain, although he had first lived as a transgender person while based in the US in the 1990s. For a couple of years, Louisa Jo Killen, who has died at the age of 79, continued to sing as before, although illness increasingly reduced her ability to travel around the country.

Louis was born in Gateshead, to a working-class Catholic family. Singing was a natural part of family life – everything from hymns to Irish ballads, light opera and cowboy songs. One older brother brought home jazz records, which encouraged the teenage Louis to go to the Newcastle Rhythm Club, while another brother, who died young, played the English concertina, which Louis later used to accompany folk songs. After working as an apprentice cabinet maker, Louis moved to study at the Catholic Workers' College in Oxford when he was 21. By this time, he was singing a mixture of American, Irish and British folk and popular songs, but Oxford University's Heritage Society exposed him to a more traditional repertoire, which led him to the Ballads and Blues folk club in London, run by Ewan MacColl and AL Lloyd.

Louis had learned traditional songs from Alan Rogerson, a Northumbrian sheep farmer, and impressed MacColl when he sang these at the club. Back in Tyneside, Killen met Johnny Handle in a jazz club and in 1958 they established the region's first folk club, Newcastle Folk Song and Ballad; by 1961, they had adopted MacColl's folk club policy that singers should sing only songs from their own country.

MacColl invited Killen to sing on several of the acclaimed BBC Radio Ballads, made with the producer Charles Parker. For The Big Hewer, about coal mining, Killen introduced MacColl to the Elliotts from Birtley – a family of miners and singers, whose experiences were crucial to the success of the resulting programme.

As folk music grew in popularity throughout the 1960s, Killen became a regular guest singer in folk clubs and concerts all over the country. He was the leading figure in the wave of younger singers who emerged from behind the founding fathers, MacColl and Lloyd. He studied the style of the older traditional singers, was a fine interpreter of folk ballads, including the monumental sea song The Flying Cloud, and popularised songs that became folk club standards, such as The Leaving of Liverpool, Pleasant and Delightful and The Wild Rover.

Killen had a great influence on the singers that followed him into the folk revival, including Tony Rose and Peter Bellamy, and right up to the present day, with singers such as Jon Boden of Bellowhead.

With Handle, he recorded three EPs of north-east songs for Topic Records, which were later re-released on an LP, Along the Coaly Tyne (1966). He also featured on compilations, including The Iron Muse (1963) and the album of sea songs Farewell Nancy (1964). In 1965 came his first solo album, Ballads and Broadsides; the novelist Angela Carter wrote the sleeve notes, commenting on Killen's "unusually subtle and sensitive accompanied singing style".

The early interest in cowboy songs and jazz had given Killen a lifelong fascination with America. In 1966, he visited the US for three months, returning there to live in 1967. As he later said, he had the classic emigrant's motives: opportunity and freedom. His repertoire of British and Irish traditional songs found an eager audience and regular visits home helped to recharge his musical roots. He already knew the Irish-American singers the Clancy Brothers, and in 1971 replaced Bobby Clancy in the family group, recording four albums with them, including Live on St Patrick's Day (1973).

In 1974 he resumed his solo career, also performing briefly with his then wife Sally. His interest in ships and sea songs led to him building and sailing boats: he was a crew member on Pete Seeger's sloop Clearwater which spearheaded the clean-up of the Hudson river, and he sang at the Maritime Museum in San Francisco. Trips home become less frequent, but a major tour in 1991 drew audiences which confirmed that his fine singing had not been forgotten.

Killen returned to live in Gateshead 10 years ago; he resumed his British-based singing career, performing in concerts and festivals, sometimes in a duo with Mike Waterson, and he tutored on the folk music degree at Newcastle University.

Killen's third marriage, to Margaret Osika, ended before he returned to Britain, but their friendship endured.

• Louis, later Louisa Jo, Killen, folk singer, born 10 January 1934; died 9 August 2013


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen - funeral, 16 Aug 2013
From: GUEST,addison
Date: 20 Aug 13 - 01:38 PM

Obituary in The Guardian (currently online only, no doubt in the printed paper soon).
Click here


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen - funeral, 16 Aug 2013
From: GUEST,GUEST, Dwayne Thorpe
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 11:01 AM

The news is sad enough, but I'm not saying goodbye, because Louis isn't gone at all -- I'm with him singing his songs all the time -- and Louisa Jo isn't going anywhere either -- she stays with me in all she had the courage to reveal about the source of art -- any art. So either I think she is a Pitman gone tappy-lappy doun the lawlands or I decide that she is a woman in love who has gone to sea to find that scoundrel who ran off leaving only a song as his excuse. Either way, she/he isn't going anywhere. Like the rest of us, who are also staying right here.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen - funeral, 16 Aug 2013
From: GUEST,bigJ
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 05:50 AM

I was disappointed that the nation-wide Folk Show on BBC Radio 2 could only manage a one-minute obituary (55.42 to 56.40)plus one song, The Banks of the Sweet Primroses, on Louis/Louisa last Wednesday night.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen - funeral, 16 Aug 2013
From: Jeri
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 08:07 PM

Lovely writing - thank you. I wish there could have been a book, too.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen - funeral, 16 Aug 2013
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 07:50 PM

tribute


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen - funeral, 16 Aug 2013
From: Elmore
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 06:16 PM

Thanks Spiral Earth. I knew Lou Killen through his music, but due to this article, I feel like I know, and to some extent, understand Louisa Jo killen


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen - funeral, 16 Aug 2013
From: GUEST,spiral earth
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 05:57 PM

Another tribute here http://www.spiralearth.co.uk/news/irwinstory.asp?nid=7868 on Spiral Earth

A fond farewell to Louisa Killen

A couple of months ago I was visiting a friend on the Scottish border in Berwick and, almost on a whim, called Louisa Killen. The reasons weren't entirely altruistic – I'd long had her in mind as a potentially useful source of information in my never-ending and increasingly foolhardy quest to assimilate enough information to write a biography of the very great (but very obscure) Irish travelling singer Margaret Barry. I'd never admit this in public, of course, but – human nature being what it is – an ugly and shameful crum of curiosity also came into play because…well, because the last time we'd spoken a few years earlier Louisa had been Louis.

She sounded breathless and doubtful on the phone. Ghastly stories of cancer, hospital appointments, unfriendly medication and extreme tiredness and warned that in her current condition conversation might be limited. But, she said, never mind all that…come anyway.

She was living in an imposing block of flats in Gateshead. Not Newcastle – Gateshead. They are a stone's throw apart but there's a big difference. This is where she was born 79 years ago, but many adventures had coloured her life between.

A smiling Louisa opens the door and we hug awkwardly. She's thin and frail and speaks softly, just a nice little old lady. A remote cry from the boisterous shanty singer of yore who set my pulses flying belting out Won't You Go My Way at a frankly terrifying decibel rate with her old friend Peter Bellamy in another century, but her spirit is unbowed and the welcome is gratifyingly warm. Her remarkable ex-wife Margaret, a clinical psychologist who's flown in from the States to offer support in her hour of need, attends to the tea as Louisa settles down in her favourite chair to talk.

And talk she does. For about two hours. Sure, there are breaks as she fights for breath and sentences are occasionally left teetering in the air and sometimes you strain to hear her, but she's animated enough and keen to reminisce…about Margaret Barry and a lot else besides.

She talks of her upbringing. An Irish family with three brothers who regularly sang anything and everything together at home – cowboy songs, blues, music hall, opera, Irish songs and the border ballads they were force-fed at school. And she explains how that wide repertoire stood her in good stead after she'd stumbled on the folk music revival via the Heritage Society in Oxford where the first artist she saw was Rambling Jack Elliott. Cyril Davies, Alexis Korner and, indeed, Margaret Barry also soon crossed her path.

There are stories of jumping ship from college in Oxford, her aborted career as a cabinet maker and her path through skiffle, the influence of the twin architects of the folk revival, Ewan MacColl and Bert Lloyd, and – true to the pioneering spirit of those early 1960s - the Newcastle folk club she helped found with occasional musical cohort Johnny Handle. At one point she even breaks into song with surprising vigour as she discusses the beloved ballads with which she's always been indelibly associated.

They included some of folk music's greatest treasures…Blackleg Miners, Pleasant & Delightful, Trimdon Grange Explosion, The Bramble Briar, The Banks Of Sweet Primroses…wonderful songs from a wonderful singer whose distinctive delivery – uncluttered, intimate, lyrical, affecting – seemed to define they were performed for years afterwards. Sometimes they were unaccompanied, sometimes they were sparsely arranged on concertina, guitar or even banjo; but the philosophy was always that the song is king.

She speaks fondly of her three decades in America, where her shanties, mining songs and tales of the industrial north east were lapped up and her Irish heritage led to six mad years singing with the group who'd given Irish music an international platform, the Clancy Brothers. She lived all over the place… Maine, Massachusetts, California, Montana…singing, lecturing, storytelling and indulging her passion for sailing. Married three times, she was to all intents and purposes the archetypal bearded, bawdy, beer-loving northern macho man.

Abhorrence of the Bush administration and the first indications of failing health finally brought her back to England for good about ten years ago and even then precious few knew the secret she'd long harboured but mostly suppressed… that deep, deep inside she had an increasingly urgent need to be a woman.

We don't speak of this, though she is so open about everything else there's little doubt she'd be happy to do so. But somehow, it just doesn't seem relevant. It's only afterwards you reflect on the magnitude of her courage when – in her seventies – she took the giant leap that would allow her true self to surface and underwent the relevant treatment to enable her to become Louisa.

Margaret tells me afterwards about the fears she'd had about changing gender. That nobody would understand. That she'd be a laughing stock. That she'd be rejected by friends and family. That it would destroy her reputation and end her career. It's a measure of her inner strength that she still went ahead with it. And perhaps a measure of those friends and family that they were so supportive.

Sure, there were ignorant sniggers behind her back and the gigs were less forthcoming after the gender change, but by then she was already starting to tackle the far more sinister threat of cancer which occupied her final years.

Despite it all, Louisa is remarkably cheerful this night in Gateshead and, whatever else, is perfectly content in her own skin. She certainly has no regrets. About any of it. "Folk music has been very good to me," she says. "I've been very lucky. I have no complaints."

And now, a few short weeks later, she is gone and we have to bid goodbye to one of the few remaining seminal figures of the early British folk revival. She was a great singer…yet, she was so much more than that.

As we said our goodbyes at the front door of her flat and hugged - less awkwardly this time - she laughed suddenly. "Never mind Margaret Barry," she says, "when are you going to write about book about me?"

If we'd only had that conversation a couple of years earlier…


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen - funeral, 16 Aug 2013
From: Ed Brown
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 07:01 AM

We will continue to hear and see Lou each time we join in on the rising, rousing chorus: "And the larks they sang melodious at the dawning of the day".

Ed & Beth Brown


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Subject: RE: Obit: Louisa Jo Killen - funeral, 16 Aug 2013
From: GUEST,Greg&Rosalie Clarke
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 08:53 PM

Our sadness is tempered by the wonderful times we shared & the hours your singing gave us. The last time we saw Lou was at Old Songs Festival when Greg had the honor of sharing the stage with Lou in a presentation of Peter Bellamy's folk opera,"The Transports". Our memories will keep him alive. Thanks for the memories.


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