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Singing the Songs of the Forgotten

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Friday July 20, 2018

From The Daily Californian

Singing the songs of the forgotten: An evening with Anna & Elizabeth
By: Ryan Tuozzolo

On September 5, 1941, Margaret Shipman sang “Jeano and Jeanette” at her home in Lee, Massachusetts. On Saturday at the Joe Henderson Lab at SFJAZZ Center, nearly 80 years later, folk singer Anna Roberts-Gevalt of Anna & Elizabeth welcomed Shipman onstage: “We have a guest making her SF debut. … Welcome to SF, Margaret.” Heeding her cue, Elizabeth LaPrelle — the Elizabeth of Anna & Elizabeth — hit play, and a recording of Shipman’s voice resonated through the room. Though staticky, the recording registered as tender and emotive as Shipman mournfully sang the tale of Jeanette’s love, Jeano, going to war. With Roberts-Gevalt strumming along on her guitar, the track transcended the time passed since its recording.

[…] And yet the two did not rely on sonics alone to move viewers — Roberts-Gevalt and LaPrelle also awed their audience visually with stunningly beautiful handmade pieces of art depicting the stories they sang. For instance, during their rendition of “Golden Vanity” (“A song from Elizabethan times that was passed down from ear to ear,” Roberts-Gevalt explained), the two displayed bit by bit a long quilted strip of fabric. On it, they had taken the time to render in painstaking detail the story told in the song — a ship called The Golden Willow Tree sailing out to sea, a cabin boy diving into the ocean, an enemy ship sinking. The fabric work alone deserved its own exhibition space.

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