Thursday, September 17, 2009

Folk singer Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary dead at 72

Some very sad news. The folk trio's Web site has statements from her two music partners as well as family and friends about Mary's death.

From Peter Yarrow: "In her final months, Mary handled her declining health in the bravest, most generous way imaginable. She never complained. She avoided expressing her emotional and physical distress, trying not to burden those of us who loved her, especially her wonderfully caring and attentive husband, Ethan. Mary hid whatever pain or fear she might have felt from everyone, clearly so as not to be a burden. Her love for me and Noel Paul, and for Ethan, poured out with great dignity and without restraint. It was, as Mary always was, honest and completely authentic. That's the way she sang, too; honestly and with complete authenticity. I believe that, in the most profound of ways, Mary was incapable of lying, as a person, and as an artist. That took great courage, and Mary was always equal to the task. "

From Noel Paul Stookey: "As a partner...she could be vexing and vulnerable in the same breath. as a friend she shared her concerns freely and without reservation. as an activist, she was brave, outspoken and inspiring - especially in her defense of the defenseless. and, as a performer, her charisma was a barely contained nervous energy - occasionally (and then only privately) revealed as stage fright...I am deadened and heartsick beyond words to consider a life without mary travers and honored beyond my wildest dreams to have shared her spirit and her career."

By David Hinckley
New York Daily News
Wednesday, September 16th 2009, 10:36 PM

Mary Travers, a striking figure of power and glamour in the early-1960s folk music movement, died Wednesday at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut after suffering from leukemia for several years. She was 72.

She was best known as the blond with the bangs who commanded the middle microphone with Peter, Paul and Mary, a trio that brought folk music from coffeehouses to top-40 radio.

They also gave much of America its first taste of the young Bob Dylan by helping to turn his "Blowin' in the Wind" into a national anthem.

The group reunited several years ago to begin touring, and Travers performed with them until a few months ago, even when she needed assistance on stage.

Travers, like Paul Stookey and Peter Yarrow, saw folk music both as an art and as an instrument for change. They sang a number of sociopolitical songs, which Travers later defended.

"I'm not sure I want to be singing 'Leaving on a Jet Plane' when I'm 75," she said in one interview. "But I know I'll still be singing 'Blowin' in the Wind.' "

She was born in Louisville, Ky., but grew up in Greenwich Village and came up through the New York coffeehouse circuit, singing on her own before she was put together with Stookey and Yarrow by famed manager Albert Grossman, who also managed Dylan.

The trio took considerable criticism from fellow folk singers for developing a sound that some considered too "commercial" and not "authentic" enough.

Travers always strongly defended the trio's sound, saying that they were in the folk tradition by making music accessible to everyone, not just academic collectors.

Peter, Paul and Mary were inducted into the Sammy Cahn Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006. Travers is survived by two daughters.


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