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

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

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 home in Nashville on Thursday. He said he did not know when she had died or what the cause had been.

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.

“He wanted to torment me and I would never allow that,” Ms. Shane said. She picked up a jump rope and whipped the boy with it. When a teacher tried to separate them, she hit the teacher, too.

She watched history march on from the comfort of relative anonymity. In her interview with The Times, she shared her thoughts on the legalization of same-sex marriage (“We’ve had to fight for everything that should have already been on the table.”) and shook her head at the state of pop music (“I’m going to have to school these people again.”).

One thing Ms. Shane did not do during her decade of Canadian stardom was record a studio album. That changed in 2017, when the Chicago-based label Numero Group released her anthology, which was later nominated for a Grammy Award.

Ms. Shane shared her life philosophy with the CBC this month.

“Most people are planted in someone else’s soil, which means they’re a carbon copy,” she said. “I say to them, uproot yourself. Get into your own soil. You may be surprised who you really are.”

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