Daisy DeBolt, a Toronto singer who began her career in 1960s coffee houses and was half of folk duo Fraser & DeBolt, has died. She was 66.
DeBolt died of cancer on Tuesday in Toronto, according to former producer and bandmate Brian Blain.
Her career spanned 40 years and ventured into jazz, country, folk and blues. Most recently she was hailed as queen of the avant-garde, and a Montreal Gazette review called her "the most astonishing, dynamic vocalist in the entire galaxy."
"Daisy was surely a singer's singer and the voice is what everybody remembers about Daisy," Blain said.
Daisy DeBolt was born July 19, 1945, the daughter of Winnipeg musician and music teacher Marjorie DeBolt. In high school, she studied guitar with the legendary Lenny Breau.
DeBolt moved to Ontario in 1965 to sing folk music. She played mandolin, accordion and guitar and was an accomplished songwriter and poet, often sharing stories of her own life in song.
DeBolt opened for Lonnie Johnson and Jessie Fuller and began working with several bands, including the Allen-Ward Trio before forming Fraser & DeBolt.
She met Allan Fraser at a workshop at the 1968 Mariposa Folk Festival and the duo hit it off both musically and romantically. They had a following at folk festivals and coffee houses in Canada and then toured the U.S. in 1970.
The pair's first album, Fraser & DeBolt With Ian Guenther, received rave reviews upon its release in 1971. They followed up with Fraser & DeBolt With Pleasure in 1973.
The duo's act seemed headed for the big time, but the couple broke up in the mid-1970s. Still, their songs continued to receive radio play even two decades later.
Continued with solo career
At the time of her death, DeBolt was working with a U.S. label to re-release the Fraser & DeBolt recordings.
DeBolt continued as a singer-songwriter and appeared in festivals across Canada as well as in small clubs.
She wrote film scores for the National Film Board of Canada and worked with dance company Ballet Ys. She also explored reggae music with her band Don’t Push Me Against The Fridge.
She starred in the Theatre Calgary production of Country Hearts in which she played the lead role of Sam Slick. She was musical director for a production of Nickel in Sudbury and she appeared in The Coming in Toronto. She has also written music for the YTV series 15 Love.
She collaborated with other poets and singers and went on to marry poet Robert Dickson, who predeceased her.
Her recordings include solo work Soulstalking, the jazz album Live Each Day with Soul, created in memory of her mother, and 2004’s Lovers and Fantasies, which includes two songs written by novelist Michael Ondaatje .
In September, DeBolt toured and sang in British Columbia, but cancer rapidly overtook her in the final few weeks of her life.
She is survived by her son, Jake DeBolt of B.C.