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Jean Marshall

Discussion in 'WWII Era Obituaries (non-military service)' started by GRW, May 13, 2014.

  1. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

    Oct 26, 2003
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    Stirling, Scotland
    "Jean Marshall, who has died aged 96, was a bel canto soprano who tutored some of the more flamboyant figures from popular music, including Grace Jones and Neneh Cherry.
    Jean Marshall taught at studios near Wigmore Street — London’s unofficial musical quarter — and at a rambling part-Tudor, part-Georgian house in Suffolk. By the late 1960s her skill had earned her a reputation that stretched beyond the usual classical avenues. Jeff Dexter, a disc jockey and promoter, brought the young singer Linda Lewis to meet her. As a soprano who studied the bel canto method of singing – in which the whole structure of the body becomes a source of vocal production – Jean Marshall helped Linda Lewis to develop her octave range for numbers such as the Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss) (1975).
    More pop pupils followed: Toni “Toad the Mime” Attell (star of Oh! Calcutta!); the Small Faces’ bassist Ronnie Lane; the Jamaican model turned singer Grace Jones; and, in the Nineties, Neneh Cherry and Beth Orton. “No one is tone-deaf,” Jean Marshall would say. “Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
    She was born Jean Maureen Campbell-Gray on November 26 1917 at Kolar Gold Fields, in what is now the Indian state of Karnataka, into resolutely colonial stock (she considered herself a mixture of Indian and Scottish). Her father was a civil engineer, working in the Khyber Pass and in the tribal lands of the North-West Frontier, and her extended family included tea planters, surgeons, barristers and judges working under the administration of the Madras Presidency.
    Her early years were spent living with her maternal grandmother in the hill stations of Kotagiri, near Ootacamund. She dated her love of music to that time — her Anglo-Indian nanny sang “lugubriously” to her. It was an exotic upbringing (she discovered a cheetah cub in their garden and bought monkeys in the bazaar), although she disliked colonial traditions such as tiger hunting. She learnt Tamil, and her “bewitching Indian childhood” — as she called it in her record of the time, Memoirs of a Jungly-Wallah — was formative.
    Aged 11 she was sent to school at Ellerslie in Malvern, continuing her music studies . She then spent a year in Madras and was in the middle of the Indian Ocean on her return to England when the Second World War broke out.
    Jean was an early Waaf recruit, and she got into trouble for hiring a char to clean her billet. Her drill sergeant was an elegant lesbian who took parade in a fur coat. Although offered a job in military intelligence, she stayed in the Waafs as a plotter at RAF Debden and later at Biggin Hill’s Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. At night she saw the glow of London burning on the horizon, but there were also comic interludes — on one occasion, when a bomb fell on a catering store, her station was sprinkled with cornflakes. She was demobbed in 1946 after being mentioned in despatches."

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