PASSING OF MARIAN HENDERSON
One of Australia’s most-loved singers died yesterday and in doing so broke a long chain with the revival of interest in our folk music.She joins Gary Shearston, Declan Affley, Tina Lawton, Don Henderson, John Dengate, Gordon McIntyre and, sadly, so many more fine interpreters of our traditional music. She was 78 years of age.
Marian retired from singing many years ago and settled on the NSW north coast where she became part of a wide community. Despite a long illness, she threw her considerable energy into art.
A friend, Ruth Miller, told me Marian spent her last months at her son’s place near Mt Mee, Queensland, looking out at a spectacular view. and occasionally playing the piano.
Marian was there at the beginning of the so-called folk revival. She made several recordings (never enough), appeared at countless concerts and was ever-present at peace marches and other demonstrations for a better world.
Her singing was exceptional. Wonderful breathy phrasing and clear enunciation married a husky, beautiful voice that was as comfortable with jazz as folk music. She wrote songs but in my mind is best remembered for her singing of traditional songs like this version of the convict ballad Van Diemen’s Land.
Further history can be seen on my website’s Australian Folk Revival pages: