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Obit: Allen Kelly New Brunswick singer, 105 [2008]

meself 04 Oct 08 - 12:30 PM
Acorn4 05 Oct 08 - 05:40 AM
meself 05 Oct 08 - 11:08 AM
open mike 05 Oct 08 - 03:06 PM
Beer 05 Oct 08 - 03:10 PM
meself 05 Oct 08 - 05:42 PM
GUEST,Britney Brideau 06 Oct 08 - 07:55 PM
Beer 06 Oct 08 - 08:05 PM
meself 06 Oct 08 - 08:39 PM
JohnB 07 Oct 08 - 08:42 PM
meself 15 Oct 08 - 01:06 AM
GUEST, great grand daughter of all crystal cookson 02 May 13 - 10:19 PM
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Subject: Obit: Allen Kelly: NB singer, 105
From: meself
Date: 04 Oct 08 - 12:30 PM

Since the obituary
probably won't be up long, I'll copy it in full here. The comment at the end is one that many of us (male) singers might like as an epitaph: "When he sang fun songs the ladies laughed. And when he sang sad songs, the ladies cried" ...



Folksinger dies at 105

By Laura MacInnis

Miramichi's beloved folksinger, Allen Kelly, died this past Wednesday at the age of 105. He was the oldest person in Miramichi.

Enlarge Photo As a musician, Allen made his mark on New Brunswick performing at the Miramichi Folksong Festival every single year since its inception 51 years ago — singing in French and English and playing the harmonica.

Kelly's daughter, Theresa Holmes, had been taking care of him for the last 18 years. She said he was always singing around the house.

"He would sing every day, right up to a couple months before — up until he got sick. He was even playing his mouth organ."

But she said it was the love of being on stage in front of an audience that kept him going back year after year even in his 100s.

"He was a performer from the beginning to the end."

Festival organizer Susan Butler saw it too.

"He had the audience in the palm of his hand. He was a remarkable man who had great respect for the folklore. He always knew just the right song to sing at just the right moment," said Butler.

At last month's show he sang "When the Battle's Over" and dedicated it to the soldiers in Afghanistan.

"For years he would stand on stage with a chair in front of him. The last couple years he needed a wheelchair, but he was there," said Butler.

In his earlier days he was known for bringing his wife Leontine on stage and serenading her.

"I met them for the first time in 1959, they were such a gentle couple,"said Butler.

Holmes said it was her French mother who taught the Irish Kelly to speak French, finding ever more songs to be sung — and to be shared with his 11 children.

But as for his day job she said he was a "jack of all trades."

"He had a piece of land — 700 acres. He was a farmer, he was a lumberjack, he was a salesmen for Rolaids," she said. "He was working on the boat in the 70s and he would have been in his 70s himself at the time."

Since his passing, Holmes said she's gotten calls from all over Canada and the United States — people sharing their memories of the man.

Over the last few years researchers came from throughout North America, recognizing Kelly as one of the last bridges to the history of folksongs nearly forgotten.

"Ronald LaBelle of Moncton worked with him a lot, and Marge Steiner, an ethnomusicologist from the States, came to the Festival every year for 22 years to see him," said Butler.

Butler choked back tears as she recalled the dinners she spent at Allen's home talking about music.

"When he sang fun songs the ladies laughed. And when he sang sad songs, the ladies cried," she said.

"He's made Miramichi very proud."


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Subject: RE: Obit: Allen Kelly: NB singer, 105
From: Acorn4
Date: 05 Oct 08 - 05:40 AM

That's one hell of an innings!

Sounds like a fellow I'd love to have met.

Any recordings in the pipeline?


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Subject: RE: Obit: Allen Kelly: NB singer, 105
From: meself
Date: 05 Oct 08 - 11:08 AM

Don't know - I'd never heard of the venerable man until I read the obit. I am more determined than ever, though, to make to the Mirimachi Folksong Festival sometime before they write MY obit. (assuming they can find something to say ... )


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Subject: RE: Obit: Allen Kelly: NB singer, 105
From: open mike
Date: 05 Oct 08 - 03:06 PM

mp3 download here for .99

http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&keywords=Newcastle%2C%20Miramichi%20River%2C%20New%20Brunswick&index=blended&page=1

photo here...(and great pix of Buffy St. Marie, too.
http://www.miramichifolksongfestival.com/id10.html

interviews here...unknown if it is accessible
to the public...http://www.umaine.edu/folklife/mf102.htm


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Subject: RE: Obit: Allen Kelly: NB singer, 105
From: Beer
Date: 05 Oct 08 - 03:10 PM

Thank you meself for sharing this.
Adrien


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Subject: RE: Obit: Allen Kelly: NB singer, 105
From: meself
Date: 05 Oct 08 - 05:42 PM

The article that open mike references above is an interesting read - about the history of the festival. Says that Louise Manny used to have a radio show featuring singers, on Wednesday afternoons - it had to be rescheduled after the foreman of one of the larger lumber camps complained that the men were all sneaking off to listen to the show on Wednesday afternoons ...


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Subject: RE: Obit: Allen Kelly: NB singer, 105
From: GUEST,Britney Brideau
Date: 06 Oct 08 - 07:55 PM

He was my great grandpa; i never got to meet him. I did a project on him and his life when i was in the 8th grade that won me an award.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Allen Kelly: NB singer, 105
From: Beer
Date: 06 Oct 08 - 08:05 PM

I'm sure there were very good reasons why this didn't happen.
My sympathies to all his love ones.
Adrien


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Subject: RE: Obit: Allen Kelly: NB singer, 105
From: meself
Date: 06 Oct 08 - 08:39 PM

Sad that you never met him ... but at least you know OF him. Our condolences.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Allen Kelly: NB singer, 105
From: JohnB
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 08:42 PM

I too have never met or heard of the man myself.
I would however just love for someone to write me a eulogy like that in one of my lifetimes. He really kicked the asses of the so called "revivalist folkies"
My best wishes to all his family, I know you will never let his name or his spirit die.
JohnB.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Allen Kelly: NB singer, 105
From: meself
Date: 15 Oct 08 - 01:06 AM

Here's another obituary
that includes more interesting details:



Allan Kelly sang almost to the day he died - Wednesday of last week at 105.

Enlarge Photo Allan Kelly performing at the Miramichi Folksong Festival in 1986. "The last song he sang at the table here was Before the Battle Mother, and he sang a French song," his daughter Theresa Holmes recalled in a telephone conversation Tuesday, the day after the funeral.

He sang the same song in August at the Miramichi Folksong Festival, his final performance as it turned out.

People kept their hopes up through the festival week that Allan would be up to singing. Festival director Susan Butler finally told the audience one evening that she might announce something special a bit later - she was waiting for a telephone call.

Folksong festival regulars, if not everybody there, knew this meant that Theresa and others were getting Mr. Kelly ready and into the car for the drive down to the Lord Beaverbrook Theatre.

He could no longer mount the steps to the stage, but he got a heartfelt standing ovation as his wheelchair was pushed across the floor in front of the 100 or more people.

The stage crew set up the microphone. The noise died completely when he started into the song Before the Battle Mother, which he dedicated to the soldiers in Afghanistan.

He remembered the words, still had wind and voice enough to carry the tune a capella and, even from his wheelchair, held his audience.

Allan Kelly's passing breaks a link with the past. He was the last singer to perform in every Miramichi Folksong Festival, all 51 since 1958. He was one of the last of the regular festival performers who worked in the lumber camps where people sang and traded the old ballads.

With Kelly and many others gone, another generation must decide what to do with Miramichi's fine song tradition.

Kelly and his late wife Léontine (Doiron) survived hard times in their earlier years. He was one of a family of 17 children at Pointe-Sapin, she one of a family of 10 children from Tracadie.

They married in 1924, cleared a farm at Busby, and later moved a few miles to Beaver Brook where they operated a store and service station, among other things. They moved to Newcastle in 1962. They had 11 children of their own plus two others whom they raised. Mrs. Kelly died in 1990 at 82.

As the seventh child in his family, people said Allan would have a gift. The priest who baptized him in 1903 told the family that the gift would show itself in time.

Years later, Kelly had no other explanation as to how he learned 500 songs in French and English, able to recall the tunes and all the words. He played the mouth organ, too.

Some songs he learned in the woods, on a fishing boat with his father, from working with a railroad crew in Ontario, on harvest excursions to western Canada, at church and social occasions, from Léontine and his in-laws, from anybody with verses to share. He sang many of these songs at the festival over the years: False Knight upon the Road, The Steamboat Alexander, The Butcher Boy and, the last one, Before the Battle Mother.

In recent years he sang Danny Boy in honour of his brother Daniel killed overseas in the First World War.

Folklorists discovered him, Ronald Labelle from the Université de Moncton, Sandy Ives from the University of Maine, Margaret Steiner from Indiana among them.

The Kellys adopted Labelle as an honorary grandson. Steiner came from Indiana for the funeral.

Labelle arranged for the Kellys to make their one vinyl recording, Suivant l'Étoile de Nord, in 1983.

In an interview in 1986, Allan said that he once wore out four men on the two-handed cross-cut saw until the boss matched him with a partner who could keep up with him.

"He was a tough man, yes," Theresa said. "He taught us, the girls, how to cut the wood too. We were lumberjacks too, we had to be." Spruce budworm got into their woodlot, and the family could not afford to lose timber.

In January 2004, he spoke on the passing of Marie Hare, another notable Miramichi Folksong Festival performer.

"All the people are gone now," he said, referring to the old singers. He was still on his feet then, and vowed to return to the festival that summer. "If I am able to go at all, I will," he said.

"He left a good tradition for the Miramichi," Theresa said. "I hope they keep the tradition going."

Derwin Gowan is a Telegraph-Journal reporter in Saint John.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Allen Kelly: NB singer, 105
From: GUEST, great grand daughter of all crystal cookson
Date: 02 May 13 - 10:19 PM

a man of spirit,integrity and full of love.and his music tells you this.they say yer lucky if they talk about you three generations later.well.My kids know who he is . ")


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