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Dorris Henderson

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  • Born: Lakeland, FL
  • Died: London, England
  • Years Active: 1960s, 2000s


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Dorris Henderson was an anomalous part of the mid-'60s British folk scene: a young black American woman singing traditional songs with accompaniment from one of the best young British folk guitarists, John Renbourn. With Renbourn, Henderson recorded a couple of rare albums, There You Go (1965) and Watch the Stars (1966), and also did a 1965 single of Paul Simon's "Leaves That Are Green." Henderson had a strong, unflappable vocal presence somewhat reminiscent of a more youthful Odetta. Her repertoire encompassed all kinds of traditional folk, with a particular affinity for Appalachian songs, although some narrow-minded English critics expected her to be concentrating more on blues and spirituals.

Born in Florida and raised in Los Angeles, Henderson performed at L.A. folk clubs such as the Ash Grove and the Troubadour before moving to England in 1965, partly on the recommendation of a brother in the U.S. airforce who was stationed there. Soon after arriving she got a musical residency on a BBC children's TV show, Gadzooks! Her first album was the first available recording to prominently feature Renbourn (although he had recorded, but not yet released, his solo debut slightly earlier). The collaboration lasted for only one more LP, Renbourn soon joining the star folk group Pentangle. Henderson joined the cult folk group Eclection (with future Fotheringay/Fairport Convention guitarist Trevor Lucas) for a year, although she only made one single with them. After the '60s she worked with some jazz musicians and sang same ad jingles, and reunited with Renbourn for occasional performances in the '90s.