Ken Jenkins and his trip down memory lane with song

Discover Sound - Posted 30-08-2021

Hello everyone. I come at you today with another blog post. This time, it is about Ken Jenkins, a singer who is singing his favourite Welsh folk songs and verse. Ken originally came from Rhondda Valley, so there is a multi-cultural crossover between Wales and Canada here. The audio recording was made on July 9th 1974, nearly 50 years ago, which adds another sense of nostalgia to the piece. The audio was quite old, but that wasn’t a bad thing as the sound file gave a feel of timelessness, as if the listener was being let into a secret about Ken’s love of music. It had very nostalgic, warm vibes and the crackling of the background tape was like a fire kindling and spitting on a cold night. Ken Jenkins is introduced, and begins to sing. He has a vibrato type voice, and is really good at singing.

After a minute or so, it switches to a female singer, who has a lovely voice. The lady, whose name I didn’t catch because the audio is too quiet, but she says that she brought it over from Wales, as her brother heard it from the boys of Bangor. The second one of these finished on a high note, which was a spectacular demonstration of her singing abilities. Then, she progresses to a song she learnt in school. The array of songs she demonstrates is wonderful. She says how as she has no one to accompany her in the song, so she has to come in the melody first then the verses. She can’t remember the name of the song, but she launches into singing it anyway.

Next, she explains that she would tell the crowd in performing her next song that it came from the Eisteddfod, a festival in Wales, where there were five competitors and she was watching the performances. She re-enacts the words she heard them say, but the talking is quite quiet, so is hard to discern exactly what is being said. However, I got the sense that it was a dynamic performance and the female singer is copying them very well. She talks about a choir in Canada that came from a small village in Wood River, that would get into the Welsh spirit, and they would have a free supper at the end of the day to celebrate. They would sing for another 2 and a half hours after the supper and talks about how other groups learned Welsh songs via English words at first. She remembers signing at the Welsh church and goes into detail about the multi-cultural society that is put in place in Canada. In this society, some of the people dressed up in Welsh costumes to sing a 10-minute song within a choir. At the end of the song, a group of 11 children joined the choir, for the grand finale, and sung ‘It’s A Small World After All.’ Each ethnic group was asked to do one line of the chorus in Welsh. She talks about how there was a display of Welsh crafts in the auditorium, as well as Welsh food and other cultural items of significance. She mentions the Welsh cakes she makes, that could survive an international food fair, which she passed the recipe onto her friend, who in turn made them for said international food fair. On the packets of currants they used, they put on the original lady’s recipe for Welsh cakes, which is a really nice touch and honours the female singer.

I really liked the fact that there were snippets of different songs from both of them, and that they both still had their roots coming through as well as their accents from Wales, which shows that they are still connected to Wales even in Canada. This reminds me of one of the previous blog posts I did. A lovely cyclical end to this post. I hope you have enjoyed reading this, because I have enjoyed writing and listening to these audios. See you in the next one.


Alice Tucker, Unlocking Our Sound Heritage Volunteer


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A blog about the work and collections of the National Library of Wales.

Due to the more personal nature of blogs it is the Library's policy to publish postings in the original language only. An equal number of blog posts are published in both Welsh and English, but they are not the same postings. For a translation of the blog readers may wish to try facilities such as Google Translate.

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