Iconic singer, songwriter and raconteur, Rosalie Sorrels died on June 11 this year just short of her 84th birthday. A service was held in Boise, and now Mitch Greenhill, longtime friend and fellow musician, whose musical career was long intertwined with Rosalie’s, has, along with some other friends, organized a West Coast Memorial. The Pasadena Folk Music Society presented Rosalie three times, most recently, in 2013, and we are happy to partner with these folks by providing a location and support for this show. This will be a chance for friends, some of Rosalie’s family members, and the many who knew her from her songs and performances, to remember how special she was. The program will be in Beckman Institute Auditorium (Little Beckman- not to be confused with the larger hall on campus, Beckman Auditorium, which is just to the east.) The event will be free and will include some live music performances, though, in the tradition of Rosalie’s shows, it will feature many stories and personal memories as well.
The Idaho Statesman printed a good overview of Rosalie’s life that is well worth reading. Rosalie’s is a major voice, particularly as a forthright woman who is unafraid to be herself. Malvina Reynolds, who wrote Little Boxes, as well as many other memorable songs, was a mentor and the two are often compared. Rosalie is one of those “bigger than life” people who we are so glad to have in the folk music world. If you ever heard Rosalie perform, either at Caltech or elsewhere, there’s a good chance you’ll want to come to this remembrance. If you aren’t familiar with her, you can read an NPR essay written after her death, or her New York Times obituary. There will be songs shared by Mitch Greenhill, Ross Altman, and others, along with the showing of some slides. We understand that some of her family will be attending. Though we will not see her, or the likes of her, again, there is much to celebrate about this unique woman. We also remember her close association with Utah Phillips, another Titan of folk music and the human spirit. Though she’s gone, we can still hear Rosalie’s wonderfully distinctive voice in recordings, and there should be some CDs available for sale at this program. We could give many examples, but for starters, listen to her song, My Last Go Round and see Nanci Griffith sing her biographical song about Rosalie’s escape from her marriage and taking her kids out on the road, Ford Econoline. Rosalie was, and will continue to be, a role model and inspiration to many.
Where to go:
For those unfamiliar with Caltech, Beckman Institute is actually located at 400 South Wilson Avenue in Pasadena. While there may be limited street parking, there are parking lots located at the southern stub of Michigan Avenue (one block east of Wilson), below Del Mar Boulevard. Beckman Institute is located west of the distinctive large white wedding cake Beckman Auditorium (NOT part of Beckman Institute), easily seen from Michigan Avenue. A series of pools (fountains at times) points toward Beckman Institute, and the auditorium is located on the first floor. Click here for a map of the campus. Beckman Institute is number 74 near the top of the map. Free parking will be available in nearby lots 11 and 12. Parking IS permitted in the named slots on a Sunday night. Do not worry about the sign that says “Carpool only” upon entering lot 11. The auditorium holds just under 200 people, and we don’t know how many folks to expect for the memorial, so we recommend arriving a bit early. If you have any questions, you can reach us at [email protected] or you can try calling (626) 616-4559, where you will probably have to leave a message and get a return call.