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Jackie Shane (1940 - 2019), pioneering transgender soul singer

Twitter / New York Times / Courtesy of Numero Group

She became a big star in Toronto in the 1960s

Jackie Shane was a pioneering transgender soul singer who became a star in Toronto, Canada in the 1960s. She came back to prominence recently when record label Numero Group released an album of her singles and live recordings. The album was nominated for a Grammy for best historical album. Starting her music career in Nashville, she left for Canada to escape Jim Crow laws, packing nightclubs in Toronto. She abruptly left show business in 1971 to come back to the states and take care of her mother.

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Died: Friday, February 22, 2019. (Who else died on February 22?)

Details of death: Died in Nashville at the age of 78.


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On being herself: "I have never felt that I had to change or do anything that wasn't natural to me." "I will never ever be some kind of wishy-washy creature that pretends or lets others guide me. I guide my life. It is mine. No matter what anyone says, I'm going to be Jackie." – In a rare interview with CBC Radio Q in 2019

On her love of Toronto: "The Canadian people have been so good to me. At first, there were people who are ignorant and talk and talk and don't know what they're talking about. They were curious, but when they got to know me and we grew to love to one another — I loved them first. I had to. I could not allow myself to be angry. We became real lovers. I love Toronto." - In a rare interview with CBC Radio Q in 2019

Tribute: “Rest in Power to a true legend. If you don't know Jackie Shane's name, music and story, please take a moment today to learn more.” – CBC TV host Amanda Parris on Twitter

Full obituary: The Tennessean

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