KEXP talks to New York Times writer Reggie Ugwu about Jackie Shane, a Black transgender soul singer who gained prominence in the 1960s with her captivating stage presence and voice.
Jackie Shane, a Black transgender soul singer, gained prominence in the 1960s with her captivating stage presence and voice. Then, in 1971, she quit her career and faded from the public eye and into a reclusive life at home. New York Times writer Reggie Ugwu was able to track her down in 2017 and spoke to her on the phone from her home in Nashville. She passed away last year at the age of 78. Ugwu says many people see Jackie Shane as being way ahead of her time, but that she had always put it as “everyone else was behind."
When asked about Jackie Shane’s legacy, Ugwu says, “She was someone who was extremely confident and exuded dignity. She never let anyone define her or put her in a box and she never felt that she had to explain herself to anyone. So she was someone who believed deeply in personal liberation and personal freedom and 'live and let live' […] She’s a real model for how you can be yourself and not conform to the pressures of society."
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