(10 January 1934 – 9 August 2013)
Louis Killen was one of the most widely influential musicians of the folk revival and a key voice of English traditional song. He was a hard-core, unadulterated folksinger whose passionate delivery was matched by a deep and wide-ranging knowledge of the songs and the working people who made them.
Born and raised in the heart of the industrial North East of England, he came early to a love of folk music. Nurtured by a singing family whose tastes ran from liturgical music to cowboy songs, Irish ballads, grand opera, blues, jazz, classical and local Music Hall, the dominant music in his life has been the folk music of the British Isles. Louis's family background is predominantly Irish: his paternal great-grandfather brought his family from County Mayo to the banks of the River Tyne in 1852. His grandfather married a Scotswoman and his father an Irishwoman.
Though his ancestry is largely Celtic, being a native Tynesider stongly affected his approach to music. Tyneside is an area that absorbs other cultures and converts them into its own - to this day, even after thirty-five years living in the USA, Louis's speaking accent still denoted his roots. The mixture of Irish, Scots and English living in the coal-mining and industrial region known to the ancients as Northumbria set it apart from the rest of England, pulling into it the musical traditions of all three countries while maintaining its own distinct musical style. Louis Killen drew on all four traditions to bring a wide range of folk music to his audiences. To these four is added the Anglo-American tradition of deep-water shantying and sailor ballads common to both nations. Louis's first-hand experience working aboard brigs, brigantines, schooners and sloops in the late '60s and early '70s put him in the forefront of the current revival of maritime music on both sides of the Atlantic.
In a career spanning over forty years, with more than thirty-five albums/CDs to his credit, Louis Killen's influence as a performer, teacher and inspiration to others was unparalleled. Over forty recordings spanning most of the latter part of the 20th Century. Louis was a living folk legend.
He returned to the UK in 2003 and in 2010 Louis underwent a gender reassignment to become Louisa Jo.
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