Singers and Musical Personalities ~ David Kennedy 1825 - 86

1.   Kennedy

David Kennedy 1825 - 86

1.   David Kennedy 1825 - 86 (Frontispiece from David Kennedy, The Scottish Singer by Marjorie Kennedy Fraser, Published by Alexander Gardner, Paisley and London, 1887 (Marjorie Fraser Kennedy was daughter of David Kennedy and a renowned collector of Scottish Airs.) [Image in the public domain.]

So far as America is concerned, Wilson's great successor as a singer of Scottish songs was David Kennedy. Born at Perth in 1825, he died at Stratford, Canada, while on a professional tour, in October, 1886.  For some forty years he was before the public as a singer of Scotch songs. He sang the ballads of his native land round the world, visiting India, Africa, Australia, as well as every section of the United States and Canada.

While Kennedy's programmes were modelled on those of Wilson, and to a great extent presented the same songs, there was a wide difference in the style of their entertainments.  Wilson was a faultless singer, a student of music, and as firm a believer in the sweetness, power, and melody, native to Scotch music. Kennedy was by no means so grand a singer as Wilson; he never claimed to be so, in fact; but he had the knack of getting, as it were, into the heart of a song, and making every shade of its meaning become perfectly clear to his audiences.

Kennedy was in many ways the best modern representative of the old Scotch minstrel we can imagine. Nobody ever excelled him in the telling of an old Scotch story, for he did not merely repeat such tales, he acted them, and filled the stage or the platform with their personages, and there was that strong personal magnetism about the man which is so indispensably requisite to public success on the concert or lecture platform.

[Text based on Electric Scotland's The Scot in America.  For further information Kennedy's life, please follow this LINK.]



David Kennedy (1825–1886)

2.   David Kennedy (1825–1886), Singer, by unknown artist.  Oil on canvas, 762 x 635 mm.  National Galleries of Scotland.  [Original image in the public domain.]

Traditional Scottish Music in Canada

Because emigration from Scotland has been uninterrupted, it is difficult to know the age of songs found in Canada. According to Calum I.N. MacLeod, the oldest of a variety of song types within the Scottish-Gaelic tradition in Canada is the heroic ballad, its texts from Celtic cycles whose roots lie in pre-Christian Ireland.

MacLeod has found that several types of Gaelic song have survived, among them epics, laments, and work songs. The last, usually strophic and rhythmical, include songs for rowing, churning, milking, weaving, spinning, quern-grinding, and waulking (ie, fulling cloth). The Scotia Singers of Winnipeg (1974-86) was a choir of children formed to sing Scottish Gaelic songs. Gaelic psalms have continued to be sung in Nova Scotia and in a few other places in Canada (such as Toronto), where church services are held in Gaelic. At the University of Ottawa a community funded chair of Celtic studies was established in 1985 to offer language and literature courses and to enrich the cultural community. The National Festival of Gaelic Music and Literature, Mòd Ontario, began in Toronto 1977.

Scottish songs in English and Scots form a distinctive but less distinguishable category of vocal music, since their history is intertwined with that of English folksong, and they are part of the common heritage of English speakers in Canada. One also must include in this class Scottish music-hall songs (such as those of Harry Lauder and Andy Stewart). Many old songs of Scottish origin, however, have been recorded, especially in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Ontario, by the National Museum of Man (Canadian Museum of Civilization) and by individual collectors. The commercial success of the folksong revival, too, has made popular many Scottish songs, both old and new by composers such as Allistair Ancillary. They are often heard at celebrations of Robert Burns' Night and Scottish Heritage Days across the country. Lastly, one must mention the musical influence of the Presbyterian church in Canada, whose hymnal to some extent differs from that of other English-speaking churches (see Hymns and hymn tunes).

[Text based on Classical Music - the Canadian Encyclopedia. Historical Canada.]


Kennedy Anecdotes

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