Master of Arts
Popular Music and Culture
In 1999, looking back at her 1960s career as a folk performer, Malka Marom commented that she and her former singing partner, Joso Spralja, had reached mainstream success in Canada when it was considered “fashionable to be ethnic.” Here, Malka is referring to the mid-1960s, when she was classified as an ethnic folk singer in Toronto’s Yorkville Village folk scene. She performed alongside Canadian folk “greats” such as Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, and Ian and Sylvia. Malka and Joso released four studio albums through Capitol Records of Canada and were later chosen to host their own CBC television show, A World of Music, which aired on Saturday nights after Hockey Night in Canada in 1966. This thesis situates Malka, a woman of colour, within the American Folk Revival, the Yorkville Village coffee house scene, and the national-cultural landscape of 1960s Canada. These explorations constitute an argument for Malka’s place in the Canadian folk music canon, which is predominantly regarded as a white, singer-songwriter genre. Analysis of period newspapers, archival footage, and a personal interview with Malka Marom support the conclusions of this study.
Summary for Lay Audience
This thesis situates Canadian folk singer Malka Marom (formerly Himel) within the American Folk Revival, the Yorkville Village coffee house scene, and the Canadian music scene of the 1960s where Malka performed alongside Canadian household names like Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot. She later had her own CBC television show, A World of Music, with her singing partner Joso Spralja. I explore how her "ethnic" identity was marked, which worked for and against her music and television careers. Despite Malka's popularity in Yorkville, she has been excluded from the Canadian folk canon. This study offers an argument for recognizing Malka's contributions (and those of artists like her) to the Canadian music scene and to widening definitions of Canadian identity. An analysis of period newspapers, archival footage, and a personal interview with Malka Marom are central to this study.
Chow, Maureen, "“Fashionable to be Ethnic”: Malka Marom, Yorkville Reimagined, and the CBC’s A World Of Music" (2021). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 7820.