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Ottilie Patterson, RIP

Stuart Bailie | 11:41 UK time, Friday, 1 July 2011

On a couple of occasions, I've sat down with jazz legend Jackie Flavelle and listened to his stories about Ottilie Patterson. She was the singer from Comber with a Latvian mother who found herself in the centre of the UK jazz boom in the Fifties. She toured with The Chris Barber Band and shared stages with Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Sonny Boy Williamson and Muddy Waters. I could never imagine how much of a culture-quake that must have been.

A few years ago on this blog I mentioned some of the amazing youtube clips of Ottilie singing live and how much grit and authority was in her voice. Her version of Baby Please Don't Go was long before the Them recording and it demonstrated that the blues had impacted in Northern Ireland a generation before.

I had somehow assumed that I would get the chance to meet her, but Ottilie passed away on June 20 at a care home in Ayr. There wasn’t any fuss about her passing and the internet is strangely quiet. Someday that will surely be rectified. In Northern Ireland terms she was a ground-breaker, as important as Ruby Murray, perhaps even more so. On Monday night's radio show, I shall bring in my copy of That Patterson Girl and give it an airing.

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