My Name Is Ottilie

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BBFC RatingMy Name Is Ottilie

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CertificateNot Rated
GenreDocumentary, Music
Director(s)Diarmuid Lavery
Running Time0HR 59MINS
SeasonMain Programme

Soul singer Dana Masters traces the story of Ottilie Patterson, who for a dazzling few years in the late 1950s and early 1960s was the rising star of British popular music.

One night in 1959, a 27-year-old female singer took to the stage in front of an audience at Smitty’s Corner, Muddy Water’s renowned blues club in Chicago’s South Side. After her stunning performance, a member of the rapturous African American audience called out – “Hey lady, you sing real pretty. How come you sing like one of us?”

The singer’s name was Ottilie Patterson. And she wasn’t black. She wasn’t even American. She was from the small town of Comber, in County Down, Northern Ireland, just ten miles from Belfast.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Ottilie Patterson was the rising star of British jazz and blues music. As an acclaimed singer with the Chris Barber Band, she and the band were at the forefront of the Trad Jazz scene packing out jazz clubs all around Britain, and relentlessly touring Europe and America. Together Ottilie and Chris paved the way for bands such as The Rolling Stones and The Pretty Things, inspiring their passion for American blues music, and they played a pioneering role in the development of British rhythm and blues music.

Yet, why did Ottilie Patterson, the woman from Northern Ireland, who became the first female blues singer in the UK to achieve near pop status, and who performed with American blues legends such as Muddy Waters, Ella Fitzgerald and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, disappear from the story of British music?

The screening will be followed by a short discussion about the documentary and the musical legacy of Ottilie Patterson. This will include soul singer Dana Masters, author Joanna Braniff and Charlotte Dryden from the Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast.

A DoubleBand Films documentary for the BBC.

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