Comments for Kitty Keeps On Singing

Caption: Kitty Flanagan Barrett Curran

This piece belongs to the series "Family History: The Stars Who Guide Us"

Produced by Susan B. Price

Other pieces by Susan Barrett Price

Summary: Tribute to my grandmother: No matter what life hands them, great dames keep on singing.

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Review of Kitty Keeps On Singing

I have to admit I didn't finish listening to this piece. Maybe it's not fair of me to write a critique, but I have to say, I was 3 minutes in (I believe the piece is 6:30) and I had heard no tape. I believe that this is an adaptation of another piece I heard on PRX called "Kitty (somebody)'s War" where a family had bought a phonograph-record-making-machine and there's tape of people singing and talking. So I was expecting to hear some tape. When I hadn't heard any after 1/2 the piece had played, I gave up.

Perhaps the producer was saving this tape for the end. Perhaps she felt this added suspense. If so, for what it's worth, personally I didn't feel it.

I wonder whether the producer made an effort to find others to help her tell this story. I expected, for example, reminiscences from the people being spoken about. Or perhaps there would be reminiscences from those people's children or grandchildren. What I heard was one woman reading a litany of woes. That would have been fine if there had been an effort to universalize these woes. I did not hear that. What I heard was "Here's the tough time my relative had."

I should also say that the audio quality of the voice tracks was quite poor. It's particularly noticeable at one point where the voice track ends and the music sweeps in. There's some kind of hiss or crackle that suggests the voice tracks were recorded with inferior equipment.

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Review of Kitty Keeps On Singing

To the producer:

I love the use of old recordings in this piece. I find such artifacts instantly intriguing because sound, unlike pictures, is something we experience in real time. That's what makes it so captivating. We are able to experience a moment exactly as it unfolded.

I'd recommend that the old recordings be introduced much earlier in the piece and that the long introduction where you recount your grandmother's life of tragedy be removed or pared down significantly.

I like your narration style and your voice. Could you negotiate time in a studio and record the voice over in a better environment? I think it would really help the quality of the piece.

The point of this story is that in the face of tragedy, Kitty keeps singing. Is singing really a universal reaction to tragedy among strong women? If so, bring that out more. When the conclusion that "great dames keep singing” is drawn, I want to feel that you've brought me to that conclusion through more reflection.

To producers:

This piece is listed as being related to Memorial Day. I think this is feasible, but a lot of editing would be required to highlight the "Memorial Day" theme. There are a lot of unrelated themes in this piece, and unfortunately for Memorial Day, the conclusion of the piece is more about one woman's method of coping with tragedy than a celebration or reflection on the holiday.

Caption: PRX default User image

Review of Kitty Keeps On Singing

The piece held my attention and I especially enjoyed the interwoven old home recordings. The narrator clearly demonstrates the unbreakable spirit of her grandmother, Kitty. Although the story has it's sad moments, I found myself uplifted by it, by Kitty's endurance and joy of life.

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Review of Kitty Keeps On Singing

This piece is a testament to the sheer will of the human spirit to overcome adversity and move ahead. Wonderful use of the family's recordings interwoven with Kitty's incredible story make this piece an easy "yes". Especially for mother's day. The writing is strong, the editing seamless. Great flow. This piece deserves airtime.

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Review of Kitty Keeps On Singing

I've re-listened and am re-reviewing because the producer recently made some production changes. So subjective, the review business. Today the piece seems stronger, or maybe my mood is different. In any event, I continue to applaud the honoring of this grandmother's strong spirit, and it's still great to hear the home-recordings of Kitty belting out a song. The writing is good throughout, there's a nice blend of text and music of the period, and Kitty is brought to life. She lived through tough times, and the piece feels timely at this particular moment. This is a fine personal offering for Mother's or Memorial Day programming.