Soul singer Jackie Shane has died, according to her label Numero Group. The transgender pioneer was just nominated for best historical album for her box set Any Other Way at the 2019 Grammys. The singer died in her sleep earlier this week. She was 78.
Numero Group A&R scout Douglas Mcgowan said Shane was humbled by her recent acclaim. “Jackie didn’t do what she did for anyone’s else’s approval. She was here to entertain, but also to educate and inspire. She lived entirely on her own terms. She taught me so many things about self-respect and grace under difficult circumstances,” he said. “I believe that she was a visionary who will never be forgotten, and will be recognized by more and more people as one of the greatest soul singers of all time. I’ll never know anyone else like Jackie.”
Born in 1940 and raised in the South, Shane knew she was a woman by the time she was 13. “Even in school, I never had any problems,” Shane said in an interview with The Associated Press earlier this year. “People have accepted me.”
She relocated to Toronto where she performed in clubs and became a cultural icon of sorts. She became an originator of Toronto’s R&B sound and was courted by A-list labels (she turned down deals with Motown and Atlantic). In 1971, Shane left the music business and spent decades in semi-seclusion. She is commemorated on a massive 20-story musical mural in Toronto with other influential musicians, including Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Ronnie Hawkins and Gordon Lightfoot.