The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #84601   Message #1562274
Posted By: johnross
12-Sep-05 - 07:28 PM
Thread Name: Cynthia Gooding -- Information
Subject: RE: Cynthia Gooding -- Information
When the Internet doesn't produce results, the next step is to consult an actual book. In this case, Folksingers and Folksongs in North America, by Ray Lawless (1965 edition) has an entry on Cynthia Gooding. Here's a summary:

   Born Rochester, Minnesota August 12, 1924. Attended several fancy private girls' boarding schools, and "She considered going to college but instead went to live in Mexico for two years." [Reading between the lines, I'm guessing that she must have been something of a hell-raiser who did not change shools voluntarily]

She developed her interest in folksongs in Mexico while studying the guitar and the Spanish language Her first performance was on a Mexico City radio station in 1945 in a "good-will program sponsored by the American Embassy." Returned the the US in 1947, moved to New York and played at a cabaret called the Soho in Greenwich Village. "The place closed when I left to get married." Her husband was a Turkish engineer who worked for General Electric.

Performed around the eastern US for a dozen years, selecting repertoire in several languages. Collected many of her songs by "spending a great deal of time in the library." It's my sense that she was mostly doing concert recitals, rather than less formal folk music events.

Moving to another book, "Rainbow Quest; the Folk Music Revival & American Society 1940-1970," by Ronald D. Cohen, it appears that Gooding was part of the group of "International singers" who were based in New York in the 1950s. Others included Theo Bikel, the Clancy Brothers, Marta Schlamme and several Israeli singers. Jean Ritchie was also part of that group. From what I can reconstruct, this was a separate social scene from the younger singers who coalesced around Washington Square Park, but there was some interaction, and when Izzy Young and others began to produce concerts, they drew from both groups.

In Jac Holzman's "Follow The Music," his memoir of Elektra Records, he says, "Cynthia Gooding was the first artist I had a crush on. She was Amazon-tall, dark-haired, slener, with long legs you could just dies for. And piercingly intelligent." Gooding herself says, "Jac and [Cynthia's husband] Hassan got along very well because I don't think either of them thought what women had to say was terribly important. I don't think Jac would have recorded me except that my husband was a very good talker, and the two of them talked a lot. I think Jac liked what I sang but not neccissarily what I said."

Jean Ritchie (in Follow the Music): "Cynthia sang songs from different countries, but highly arranged and very elaborate. Great sort of flamenco licks on the guitar. She didn't sing them like a peasant, but they were ethnic songs to begin with. And she was very good as a singer."

Mark Abramson (also in FtM): "A commanding presence. Nothing prima donna about her, but very dignified. Later on I saw her at the Newport Folk Festival, which was always kind of bedlam and chaos, and when Cynthia performed, everybody quieted down, like, 'Oh, we'd better pay attention.' "

Don, please let me know if you want to borrow any of these books.