musical lives, remembered in story & sound
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Blanche Coldiron

Blanche Coldiron -- 8. Loss & New Beginnings

By the late 1980s, Blanche was taking care of both Carolyn and her husband, who had been severely affected by a stroke, which had damaged his brain, another invalid in the house, as her children described. He passed away in 1988. Upon his death, and then the death of Carolyn in 1995, Blanche experienced a bit of a musical renaissance, newly coping with the loss and all the time on her hands. Carolyn died, when she was 51. “She went for 51 years,” Sandy said; “of giving a person a drink every time they needed a drink, doing every thing for a person.”

“Every bite of food, every drink,” Jim said.

Blanche Coldiron -- 9. The Musician, the Performer, the Inspiration

Blanche was an exacting performer. I watched old videos of Blanche’s performances with her children—videos that are available for viewing at the Berea Archive; they noted her flaws, by looking at her face, a little smile and grimace coming across it when she flubbed.
She was fun to perform with, Sue remembered, though often nervous. “Really, really nervous. She was a perfectionist, she did not want to make mistakes. Once she got over her nerves,” Sue said, “she was just incredible. She was hot. Played fast. It was like whoa! I gotta get my forearm strengthened up for this Blanche gig. Kills you.

Blanche Coldiron -- 10. The Teacher

Blanche was an encouraging teacher, an inspiration. Two of her students went on to success, moved down to Nashville as their teacher never had. The two shared some of their memories of Blanche, by email.
Lisa Shaffer, a songwriter and singer, wrote, “I’ve never met a more selfless, giving, heart of a child woman in my life. She truly was a living saint… Music was a constant in her life that she enjoyed between taking care of her sick child. “

Blanche Coldiron -- 11. The End

Blanche’s music career “sort of matched the rise and fall of her own life. I think music was her lifeline. Whether she was performing, or sitting in her living room by herself, it was still her lifeline.” Sue and John, aided by the growing number of projects and festivals they and their peers were involved in gave them the chance, Sue said, to “get us into her living room, and it also helped us get her out of her own.”