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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Anne Neilson Ronnie Gilbert queen of folk (44) RE: Ronnie Gilbert queen of folk 10 Dec 11

Sorry to see that this thread has become a bit crotchety -- but, equally, not too sure about Elmore's original intention (although there is a possible precedent here in Scotland for Belle Stewart, who is now often referred to as "Queen amang the Heather", from the title of one of her favourite songs and used by her daughter Sheila for her biography of Belle).

Anyway, I didn't want to let this chance pass to acknowledge the significant impact of Ronnie Gilbert on myself and others near Glasgow in the 1950s -- we were members of the late Norman Buchan's Ballads Club at Rutherglen Academy, and hoovering up songs avidly. We learned Scottish bothy ballads, the Muckle Sangs, skiffle, Glasgow street songs, Woody Guthrie songs, and LOTS of American material. Norman's sources for US songs were Sing Out magazine and LPs including the Weavers and Pete Seeger (amongst others). So, very early on, we came to know Ronnie Gilbert's wonderfully versatile voice, whether it was the delicate restraint of 'Bye n' Bye', the sweetness of 'Kisses Sweeter than Wine', the uninhibited drive in chorus songs like 'Tzena Tzena' and -- most wonderfully -- the passion in songs like 'Venga Jaleo', from the Spanish Civil War. Indeed, the latter song was one of the most memorable sections of the film of the Weavers' Reunion, with Ronnie rehearsing with Fred Hellerman over a kitchen table and inevitably being drawn back in to the force of the words.

And I was lucky enough to see her and the Weavers live in Glasgow (early 1960s, I think), and can attest to the taste, energy and sheer enjoyment that she brought to the whole performance. A wonderful introduction to the great variety of folk music -- and a conduit to some of the more traditional singers like Jean Ritchie.
So, thank you, Ronnie -- from a fan!
Anne Neilson.

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