Jackie Shane, Transgender Pioneer of 1960s Soul Music, Dies at 78

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/22/obituaries/jackie-shane-dead.html

By Liam Stack
Feb. 22, 2019

Jackie Shane, a black transgender soul singer who packed nightclubs in 1960s Toronto before she stepped out of the spotlight for decades, only to re-emerge with a Grammy-nominated record in her 70s, has died. She was 78.

Her death was confirmed by Douglas Mcgowan, her producer and friend. He said her body was found at her home in Nashville on Thursday. He said he did not know when she had died or the cause.

Almost five decades passed between Ms. Shane’s 1960s career in Canada and her 2018 Grammy nomination for best historical album, for “Any Other Way.” The record introduced her to a new generation of fans, and today her face is part of a towering mural in downtown Toronto.

“I do believe that it’s like destiny,” Ms. Shane told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation this month. “I really feel that I have made a place for myself with wonderful people. What I have said, what I have done, they say it makes their lives better.”

Jackie Shane was born in Nashville on May 15, 1940, and grew up as a black transgender child in the Jim Crow South. But she made her name after she moved to Toronto around 1959, becoming a force in its music scene and packing its nightclubs.

She scored the No. 2 spot on the Canadian singles chart in 1963 with her silky cover of William Bell’s “Any Other Way.” The song is about putting on a brave face for the friend of an ex-girlfriend, but Ms. Shane gave it a subversive twist when she sang, “Tell her that I’m happy, tell her that I’m gay.”

Ms. Shane said she identified as female from the age of 13, but throughout her 1960s career she was publicly referred to as a man. Speaking to The New York Times in 2017, she said she sometimes described herself to peers as gay.

“I was just being me,” she said. “I never tried to explain myself to anyone — they never explained themselves to me.”

As a child, she said, her unabashed femininity and unwavering self-confidence turned heads. In 2017, she told The Times about a grade school bully who unwisely threw a stone at her. The rock hit her, and the bully’s fate was sealed.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/22/obituaries/jackie-shane-dead.html

One Response to “Jackie Shane, Transgender Pioneer of 1960s Soul Music, Dies at 78”

  1. edith pilkington Says:

    Jackie Shane was a beautiful person and a very under appreciated talent. It’s tragic that recognition didn’t come till late in life but she would have probably been a much different person if it had and one wonders whether her beauty would shine as much without all the adversity. Did the adversity make her stronger or did it just stunt her career prospects and turn her into a recluse? One will never know. That rendition of her doing Rufus Thomas’s Walking the Dog . . . so much to appreciate and to read into there. I’ve marveled over that video ever since I found out about her several years ago.


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