Colleen learned the alphabet from an old woodsmen's
Cleveland singing the only known U.S. version of the
British ballad Queen Jane.
remembers murder ballads and sings Fifteen Men on
a Dead Man's Chest. Listen:
sings The Last Farewell, with references to Adirondack
towns. Listen: (Real
How singing has always
been part of life at home. Listen:
Colleen sings the ballad
of lost love, Come All Ye Maidens. Listen:
and Colleen Cleveland were the subjects of this January 17,
2000 profile jointly produced for radio by Traditional Arts
in Upstate New York and North Country Public Radio. Listen
Robert James (Jim) Cleveland
and his daughter Colleen of Brant Lake are descendants of
Scottish and Irish settlers to their area. Their family's
music and stories from the old country included ancient ballads
or story-songs, for which the Scots are known. Sara Cleveland,
Jim's mother and Colleen's grandmother, was a nationally-famous
ballad singer of her generation.
After Sara's death in 1987,
Jim and Colleen began singing the family songs in public.
In addition to about 400 songs of the British Isles, the family
repertoire includes songs from a variety of other popular
sources. Jim, a retired woodsman and construction worker,
learned many cowboy and outlaw songs from his mother and his
uncle. Like their traditional counterparts in Scotland and
Ireland, Jim and Colleen usually sing unaccompanied. Some
of the family's very old ballads have not been collected from
any other North American source.
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