Soul singer Jackie Shane passed away a couple of weeks at the age of 78. If you don’t know of her, her music or her unapologetic statement of who she was way before anyone used the word “trans”, read about her history and why she is such a celebrated icon.
Born in 1940 and raised in the South, Shane lived as a woman beginning in her teenage years in the 1950s. When she moved to Toronto as a young adult, Shane linked with another American transplant, Frank Motley, and began to perform in clubs throughout Canada. She turned down label deals with Motown and Atlantic, who came to court her into signing with them. “They tried to talk to me. But I had been schooled about Berry Gordy taking the entertainers’ money,” she told The Guardian in 2017. “I wasn’t going to get involved in that.”
Touring wore on Shane and she eventually disappeared from public and musical life. Revived interest in her work after the turn of the century resulted in a CBC Radio documentary, “I Got Mine: The Story of Jackie Shane,” and eventually the first sanctioned reissue of her music by Numero, Any Other Way, in 2017. The album was nominated for the Grammy for Best Historical Album this year. “My whole approach is to get you to go up against wrong,” she said to The Guardian that same year. “I don’t bow down. I do not get down on my knees. The lowest I go is the top of my head. This is Jackie!”
Listen to her own the room below: