The unknown singer is found!

Tue, 09 Jan 2018

A singer has been identified for a 50-year-old recording discovered before Christmas.

Nothing was known about the recording other than its being made by Barone Nikolai Giovanelli at a church service somewhere in the Isle of Man during Christmas 1968. This was only deduced through a close listening to the rest of the church service in which the traditional Manx song, 'Oiken ayns Bethlehem', appeared. Nothing further could be discovered on the tape, and no further outside information was available.

The song was thought to be unidentifiable and so an appeal was put out in December 2017 to try and discover who the beautiful performance was by. Dr Chloe Woolley, Manx Music Development Officer at Culture Vannin, commented:

‘This performance is something very special; it is amazing to discover it hidden here in an old recording of a church service. The piece has been been performed by many of the leading musicians today, including Ruth Keggin, Caarjyn Cooidjagh & Emma Christian. But this 1968 performance has something special about it. It would be wonderful to be able to attribute it to someone.'

We are now very pleased to reveal that the performance has been identified as being by Pamela Kerruish.

The recording was made at the Candlelight Carol Service at the Dhoon Church in Glen Mona in December 1968, with the Lord Bishop, Eric Gordon, in attendance along with the Speaker of the House of Keys, Sir Charles Kerruish. As an article in the Isle of Man Weekly Times of 27 December makes clear, it was Sir Charles' daughter, Pamela, who sang the solo carol in Manx.

This discovery of the newspaper article identifying the performer was made by Bob Carswell RBV and it was only this which truly convinced Pamela that it was indeed her own voice heard on the recording when it was brought to her attention.

Although not a Manx speaker, Pamela Kerruish picked up some Manx at the Dhoon School through the teaching of Frances Davidson. This was augmented by the songs selected by Jean Thornton Duesberry for the Maughold Girl Guides, who were responsible for the majority of the music at the concert in 1968. Pamela's pronunciation would also have been honed by her uncle and aunt, Bill and Constance Radcliffe, both important Manx speakers.

The beautiful voice, however, is entirely to the credit of Pamela alone: