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Talent???

Vic Smith 18 Sep 09 - 12:30 PM
The Sandman 18 Sep 09 - 12:33 PM
Jeri 18 Sep 09 - 12:37 PM
Lonesome EJ 18 Sep 09 - 12:38 PM
Bill D 18 Sep 09 - 12:50 PM
Rapparee 18 Sep 09 - 12:56 PM
Stringsinger 18 Sep 09 - 01:14 PM
VirginiaTam 18 Sep 09 - 01:16 PM
dick greenhaus 18 Sep 09 - 02:09 PM
The Sandman 18 Sep 09 - 02:11 PM
PoppaGator 18 Sep 09 - 02:39 PM
Jayto 18 Sep 09 - 02:58 PM
Tim Leaning 18 Sep 09 - 05:17 PM
GUEST,Hesk 18 Sep 09 - 05:43 PM
Leadfingers 18 Sep 09 - 07:58 PM
Vic Smith 19 Sep 09 - 11:42 AM
The Sandman 19 Sep 09 - 12:33 PM
Don Firth 19 Sep 09 - 03:18 PM
Stringsinger 19 Sep 09 - 04:42 PM
Don Firth 19 Sep 09 - 04:57 PM
GUEST,YankeeproudGlenn 19 Sep 09 - 05:24 PM
t.jack 20 Sep 09 - 08:43 AM
GUEST,pattyClink 20 Sep 09 - 10:38 AM
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Subject: Talent???
From: Vic Smith
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 12:30 PM

The death of Mary Travers of Peter, Paul & Mary is noted on another thread on Mudcat and there is an obituary by Dave Laing in today's The Guardian and on-line at http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/sep/17/mary-travers-obituary.

One quotation from her by the writer stands out for me. It's where she says:-

"....you really did not have to have a lot of talent to sing folk music."

Right, that ought to set the cat amongst the pigeons on this forum!


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Subject: RE: Talent???
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 12:33 PM

you dont have to have a lot of talent to sing folk music,that is correct,but to sing it well, you do.


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Subject: RE: Talent???
From: Jeri
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 12:37 PM

Here's the whole obituary, with the quote from Mary Travers in bold:
Peter, Paul and Mary were the most successful vocal group of the American folk revival of the 1960s. In particular, they were responsible for bringing the music of Bob Dylan to a mass audience through their hit record of his Blowin' in the Wind. With her powerful voice and long blonde hair, Mary Travers, who has died aged 72, was the focal point of the trio.

She was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but her journalist parents moved to Greenwich Village, New York, when she was two years old. She attended progressive private schools and recalled that folk music was "a very integral part of the liberal left experience. It was writers, sculptors, painters, whatever, listening to Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, the Weavers. People sang in Washington Square park on Sundays and you really did not have to have a lot of talent to sing folk music." At high school, she was a member of the Song Swappers, an ad hoc chorus that accompanied Seeger on several recordings. After graduation, Travers had no ambition to perform, although she occasionally sang in folk clubs and appeared in the comedian Mort Sahl's Broadway show The Next President, in 1958.

The group was formed in 1960 by the folk impresario Albert Grossman, who saw a commercial opportunity for a male and female trio to emulate the success of the all-male Kingston Trio. He already managed Peter Yarrow and Travers brought in Noel Stookey, a stand-up comedian and singer, who adopted his middle name, Paul, for the purposes of the new group. Travers once said that the name was also inspired by the folk-song lyric "I saw Peter, Paul and Moses, playing ring around the roses".

Grossman hired the arranger and producer Milt Okun to rehearse the trio. He smoothed out their harmonies and trained their individual voices. "I had a tendency to sometimes go flat and Milt fixed it," said Travers. Six months later, in 1961, Peter, Paul and Mary made their professional debut at the Bitter End coffee house, Greenwich Village. Yarrow explained that Grossman's plan was for Travers to be a kind of American Brigitte Bardot, a "sex object for the college male", maintaining her mystique by not talking to audiences.

A recording contract with Warner Bros soon followed, although the company's executives were nervous about the "beatnik" image projected by Travers's long hair and casual clothes and the men's goatee beards. Peter, Paul and Mary's contract gave them an advance of $30,000 and control over album cover art. The first, eponymous album was issued in 1962. It soon rose to No 1 in the US and sold more than 2m copies there. The album also produced two hit singles with the traditional song Lemon Tree and If I Had a Hammer ? a spiritual associated with Seeger. Puff, the Magic Dragon, a children's song co-written by Yarrow which was sometimes claimed to contain coded drug references, was another big early hit.

By 1963 Grossman was also managing Dylan, and Peter, Paul and Mary recorded several of his songs, replacing the composer's idiosyncratic diction with their punchy but conventional harmonies. In the summer of that year, the trio had massive hits with Blowin' in the Wind, which also made the UK Top 20, and Don't Think Twice, It's All Right. In that year, too, the group were headliners at the Newport folk festival, where they sang Blowin' in the Wind alongside Dylan, Seeger and Joan Baez.

Peter, Paul and Mary were strongly committed to civil rights. Travers often said that Blowin' in the Wind was her favourite song and that her most important performance was in Washington at the climax of Martin Luther King's march on Washington. "Imagine singing that song in front of a quarter of a million people, black and white, who believed they could make America more generous and compassionate in a non-violent way."

The group's success also led to an invitation to sing at the official celebration of president John F Kennedy's second year in office. Travers had to buy a long dress and long gloves for the occasion.

Although acoustic music and the folk revival was eclipsed in the mid-1960s by rock and folk-rock, Peter, Paul and Mary remained popular throughout the decade. They recorded hit singles with a song by the rising Canadian star Gordon Lightfoot, For Lovin' Me, the tongue-in-cheek I Dig Rock and Roll Music, part-written by Stookey, and another Dylan piece, When the Ship Comes In. Their final hit, and their only US No 1 single, was the John Denver composition Leaving on a Jet Plane, in 1969. It was also their biggest UK hit, reaching No 2 in 1970.

When the group split up that year, Travers continued as a soloist. She recorded five albums in the 1970s, though none emulated the trio's success. She also hosted an interview-based radio show for several years. The trio eventually reunited in 1978 to play a benefit concert for anti-nuclear causes. They toured and recorded occasionally over the next two decades. The title song of their 1986 album, No Easy Walk to Freedom, was dedicated to Nelson Mandela. In that year, Peter, Paul and Mary performed at the Martin Luther King birthday celebrations in Washington, reprising Blowin' in the Wind with Dylan.

In 2005, Travers was diagnosed with leukaemia and underwent bone marrow transplant surgery. She was able to return to performing, but earlier this year her condition worsened. She is survived by her fourth husband, Ethan Robbins, two daughters, Alicia and Erika, from a previous marriage, and two grandchildren.

? Mary Allin Travers, singer, born 9 November 1936; died 16 September 2009


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Subject: RE: Talent???
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 12:38 PM

She was describing Folk Music in the context of a melange of poetry, art, theater etc during the late 50s and early 60s. I believe she was implying that a painter (for example) might consort with folk musicians and take up a guitar in lieu of a brush.

Having said that, I believe that during a "fad", as Folk Music was in those days, various people of questionable talent are attracted to it because it is hip and happening.


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Subject: RE: Talent???
From: Bill D
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 12:50 PM

"Folk music", being 'music of the folk', really did NOT require professionalism 'talent'...unless you wanted to get off the porch and ...ummmm... do it professionally. A certain amount of talent is assumed if you intend to make albums for sale.

But the point is well taken... it is music for sharing...or should be, and caring is more important in that context than vocal quality.


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Subject: RE: Talent???
From: Rapparee
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 12:56 PM

Well, I guess that tho' 'tis sharp indeed, I just flat-out ain't a natural folksinger.


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Subject: RE: Talent???
From: Stringsinger
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 01:14 PM

There is an elitist concept of talent. It's reserved for an exalted few.

Folk music is accessible.
It's for everyone to sing. I think that's what Mary Travers meant. It certainly is the text of Pete Seeger's sermons. The idea of "talent" comes from stuffy academics who maintain that their view of talent is better than someone else's. This comes from the classical music world.

Mary Travers did what she did naturally. She honked it out regardless of how talented it would be perceived. She was bold, aggressive, never shy, and represented for many women an emancipated way of singing and being. The idea that Grossman wanted to convey that Mary T. was a shy, introverted person is pure hype.

Talent has to be identified and defined. Mary's personality was her talent. She was outgoing,warm, conveyed a kind of humanity onstage and it really didn't matter too much if she flatted a few notes. She looked and sounded good and was a solid presence. That is talent. She communicated to many big time. That is talent. But it's not the stuffy academic definition.


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Subject: RE: Talent???
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 01:16 PM

hhmmmm!   I have heard plenty of compelling delivered songs by people some would not define as talented singers.

And I have heard plenty of folk songs delivered via impeccably polished voices which did nothing for me.


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Subject: RE: Talent???
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 02:09 PM

Good folksinging sure as hell requires talent---but not the same talent as is required for opera singing. Anyone who can deliver a song compellingly has talent---witness the vast numbers of others who can't.


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Subject: RE: Talent???
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 02:11 PM

I would like to add to my comment.
Talent is only part of what is important,to be a good musician/ singer what is more important than talent is practice,most musicians singers spend hours rehearsing and practising,working on their instrumental technique and vocal techniques,thinking about stagecraft and presentation.
talent is of no use if you cant be bothered to learn the words ,or master a few chords.
however technique without soul/feeling is of no use either.
Vic Smith,do you not think that you are unfair in taking the quote out of its context.


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Subject: RE: Talent???
From: PoppaGator
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 02:39 PM

I think Mary's original quote meant that, in the Greenwich VIllage "scene" as it existed when she was young, people (including "innocent bystanders") were encouraged to paticipate in folk music, which was not yet in any way commercialized.

As for as "talent" is concerned, there are different kinds of talent. A successful folk singer (or blues singer, or rocker singer) needs a different set of skills than does an opera singer or a musical-theater chorus member or actor. Not less, not more, just different.

Compare musical to athletic talent: A superstar golfer is not an "athlete" at all in same sense as a basketball star or a world-class sprinter, but he certainly is just as extraordinary a competitor as any of his peers in any other discipline.


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Subject: RE: Talent???
From: Jayto
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 02:58 PM

Talent is a pseudonym for alot of practice.


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Subject: RE: Talent???
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 05:17 PM

What I need is a talented audience .
Anyone got a spare one?


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Subject: RE: Talent???
From: GUEST,Hesk
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 05:43 PM

If talent was a defining reason for being interested in folk music I would have lost interest years ago. It's just good fun being in the company of others who are prepared to have a go,the Irish word "Crack" sums it up well. In my experience this is more often found in a gathering of like minded people singing together, than in any number of concert spots where the performers are regarded as "talented".


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Subject: RE: Talent???
From: Leadfingers
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 07:58 PM

For 'Folk' , particularly Live Perfomance , that strange thing Charisma is as important ! I know a few 'Folkies' who are worse singers and musicians than I am , who can control an Audience FAR better than I can !


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Subject: RE: Talent???
From: Vic Smith
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 11:42 AM

"Vic Smith,do you not think that you are unfair in taking the quote out of its context. "

Possibly, but the remark was made and in quoting it I was being deliberately provocative in order to promote discussion.

I believe that those with a serious interest in traditional music and song are far too ready to allow themselves to be cowed by the purveyors of classical music and opera who frequently sneer at folk material and performance.

Acquiring the relevant knowledge, attitudes and skills to become a successful performer of traditional music and song has become a lifetime study for many people. The more successful performers continue to improve after decades at it. Of course, it is primarily a social music that beginners and amateurs can also thoroughly enjoy; that is part of the glory of it, but let's not allow anyone to say that it is an easy musical option. That is why learning that a successful folk singer said, "....you really did not have to have a lot of talent to sing folk music." is both disappointing and misleading.


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Subject: RE: Talent???
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 12:33 PM

of course the other thing that has now become important if the performer is seeking material success,is promotion.
promotion, networking,backscratching,are phenomena that have long been associated with the pop world,but are now sadly prevalent in the folk world.
undoubtedly there will be some performers who will use Folk against Fascism,as away of furthering their careers,but I expect their were performers who used the CND movement in the same way,so whats new?.
of course PPMs success was not due entirely to talent either,but due also to successful management and promotion.
then we must ask the question was Mary Travers a folk singer?that will open a can of worms.


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Subject: RE: Talent???
From: Don Firth
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 03:18 PM

A possibly different interpretation of Mary Travers' comment:

She wouldn't have been able to cut it as an opera or lieder singer because she didn't have that kind of voice, and she may have made only a passable pop singer, but folk songs were no problem for her. She may very well have been modestly referring to herself when she said that singing folk songs doesn't take much talent.

It depends a lot on what one's idea of "talent" is. I tend to think it's a fairly targeted thing;   a combination of the physical attributes you were born with and what you choose to do with it, if anything. There are probably a lot of stock brokers or insurance salesmen running around with potentially marvelous singing voices, but who don't know it because they never developed an interest in singing. Or someone who would really love to sing, but has a voice like a rusty hinge, and he either gives up the idea, or makes some careful selections as to what kind of songs he chooses to sing. A well-coordinated guy 6' 7" tall has more "natural talent" for playing basketball than a 5' 4" butterball. Lots of examples in lots of different fields. But sticking to singing, one of the finest bass-baritone singers of recent times was George London. He was one of the best singers to ever sing the role of "Wotan" in Wagner's Ring Cycle, and was the first American to be invited to sing the role at the Bayreuth Wagner Festival in Germany (very snooty about who they invite). Magnificent voice, like dark chocolate. He had a great talent for opera. But?I once heard him sing "Lord Randal" in a concert, and it was bloody gawd-awful!! No talent for folk music!

Hearing Dave Van Ronk sing Die schöne Müllerin, op. 25, D. 795 by Franz Schubert would be, in a word, pretty bizarre, but his recording of He Was a Friend of Mine was just plain magnificent!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Talent???
From: Stringsinger
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 04:42 PM

There are few artists who cross over into other fields. Eileen Farrell put out a recording called "I've Got A Right To Sing the Blues". That's debatable. Renee Fleming put out a jazz vocal recording which didn't carry much weight, as beautiful as she is (to look at and to hear).

Paul Robeson defied the odds.

Burl Ives could do Schubert. (I don't think he ever recorded it).

I love Jo Stafford's recording of folk songs.

Judy Collins ( a great voice could do folk and Broadway).

As to "talent" it depends on your musical "value system". Mary Travers was talented.
No question. If you ever saw her live, you'd know that. A great voice? Well that's another story. It depends again on what you mean. She worked well with what she had.

Vocal talent is a special thing. Sometimes a good voice may not be the best interpreter for the material. Maybe that's what she was alluding to.

Louis Armstrong had a terrible and wonderful voice. He could sing the phone book and make it magical but I wouldn't suggest that anyone would want to study to sing like he did.

Ethel Merman was another one. Gershwin warned her to stay away from vocal teachers.
(He might have been right). She belted her way to glory. (Don't try this at home).

Frank


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Subject: RE: Talent???
From: Don Firth
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 04:57 PM

"She worked well with what she had."

Well said, Frank! I think that's the key to what we call "talent." Working well with what one has.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Talent???
From: GUEST,YankeeproudGlenn
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 05:24 PM

Yes. Don has it: working well with what one has to offer. EVERYONE has some basic musical talent (could play sticks, or tamborine) for example.


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Subject: RE: Talent???
From: t.jack
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 08:43 AM

I recently attended a writers workshop sponsered by Socan Canada.There were about 50 guests each with a cd 1 song and lyrics x 5..I felt i was in the dragons den.1 Radio announcer local pop station that was looking for anyone that sounded like Deft Leopard or someone he already knew.
A song writer that wrote crooning songs for Rod Stewart,of which i did gain some tips.A publisher that was so full of himself i was woundering what kind of a second hand car he was going to let me test ride.
The Socan rep which didn't say much about anything other than give this maternal look saying everything is alright and every body gets their money.A song to me is also a commidity of which when it is played then it should receive tune of$$$ YES??However she proceeds to tell us it is a percentage of times that they do THEIR survy as to who is being played that they give out $$ .
As each C D was played and crtiqued, the preformers bowed there heads..This is such a commercial based orgnization that tries to takes the true feel of a song and destroy it.It was odd that in watching the other attendees ,they really like what they were hearing from their co musicians of which i would think this is the end user and purpose?,The board judged each presenter and mostly tried to kill their creatviity..Not impressed, will continue to write what i feel not sell used cars thank you..

                t.j.


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Subject: RE: Talent???
From: GUEST,pattyClink
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 10:38 AM

Jeri, thanks for posting that great piece, lots of good stuff I didn't know.

I have to agree that she meant 'everybody was singing folk songs, not just top-notch professionals'. Our society badly needs to return to that condition.


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