Alan Mills (musician)

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Alan Mills
Albert Miller

September 7, 1913
DiedJune 14, 1977(1977-06-14) (aged 63)
in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Occupation(s)folksinger, writer, and actor
Known forI Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

Alan Mills CM (born Albert Miller; September 7, 1912 or 1913 – June 14, 1977 )[1] was a Canadian folksinger,[2] writer, and actor. He was best known for popularizing Canadian folk music,[3][4] and for his original song, I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. He appeared on several radio and television programs and in movies.


As a young man, Mills worked as a newspaperman. He left this work in about 1940 and took a job in radio.[5] He hosted a show for CBC radio on which he played Canadian folk music.

Mills began singing and recording traditional music from Canada, accompanying himself on guitar.[6][7] His first album, Let's Sing a Little, was released by RCA Victor.[5][8] He composed the classic folk song I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly (with lyrics by Rose Bonne)[9][10] which was later recorded by Burl Ives, Peter Paul and Mary and many others. He published a book, The Alan Mills Book of Folk Songs and Ballads, in 1949.[11] His recordings of authentic traditional music were reviewed by Oscar Brand in the Saturday Review of Music,[12] and included in a number of folk music compilation albums.[13]

Mills was signed to take part in tour of the United States in 1960,[14] and that year performed at the Newport Folk Festival.[15]

He was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1974 for his contributions to Canadian folklore.[16] Mills has also released several albums on Folkways Records of Canadian and French folk songs.


Release Date Album Title Label
1975 Soirée Québecoise du temps des fêtes Folkways Records
1972 14 Numbers, Letters, & Animal Songs (with Bram Morrison) Folkways Records
1962 Jewish Folk Songs (with Raasche) Folkways Records
1961 Alan Mills and Jean Carignan: Songs, Fiddle Tunes and a Folk-Tale from Canada Folkways Records
1961 Chantons en Francais, Vol. 2 Folkways Records
1961 Chantons en Francais, Vol. 1 Folkways Records
1960 Canada's Story in Song Folkways Records
1959 Songs of the Maritimes: Lumberman Songs and Songs of the Sea Folkways Records
1958 We'll Rant and We'll Roar: Songs of Newfoundland Folkways Records
1957 French Folk Songs for Children in English Folkways Records
1957 Christmas Songs from Many Lands Folkways Records
1957 Songs of the Sea: Sung by Alan Mills and the Four Shipmates Folkways Records
1956 Animals, Vol. 1 Folkways Records
1956 Chansons d'Acadie Folkways Records
1956 More Animals, Vol. 2 Folkways Records
1956 O' Canada: A History in Song Folkways Records
1955 Songs of French Canada (with Hélène Baillargeon) Folkways Records
1954 More Songs to Grow On Folkways Records
1953 Folk Songs of Newfoundland[17] Folkways Records
1953 French Folk Songs for Children Folkways Records
1952 Folk Songs of French Canada Folkways Records

n.d. "Chansons a Boire' [Venus VL 301]


  1. ^ The Canadian Encyclopedia: Mills, Alan
  2. ^ Glenn David Colton (March 2014). Newfoundland Rhapsody: Frederick R. Emerson and the Musical Culture of the Island. MQUP. pp. 10, 387. ISBN 978-0-7735-8937-7.
  3. ^ Pauline Greenhill; Diane Tye (1997). Undisciplined Women: Tradition and Culture in Canada. McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. pp. 41–. ISBN 978-0-7735-1615-1.
  4. ^ Ruth M. McVeigh (19 July 2006). Shifting Ground. Xlibris Corporation. pp. 135–. ISBN 978-1-4628-2859-3.
  5. ^ a b Ray McKinley Lawless (1960). Folksingers and folksongs in America: a handbook of biography, bibliography, and discography. Illustrated from paintings by Thomas Hart Benton and others, and from designs in Steuben glass. 1st ed. Sloan and Pearce. pp. 161–162.
  6. ^ Justin Williams; Katherine Williams (23 February 2017). The Singer-Songwriter Handbook. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 157–. ISBN 978-1-62892-031-4.
  7. ^ Bertha E. Mahony Miller (1958). The Horn Book Magazine. Vol. 34. Horn Book, Incorporated. p. 406.
  8. ^ Anna Kearney Guigné; Memorial University of Newfoundland. Institute of Social and Economic Research (2008). Folksongs and folk revival: the cultural politics of Kenneth Peacock's Songs of the Newfoundland outports. ISER, Institute of Social and Economic Research. p. 85. ISBN 978-1-894725-06-4.
  9. ^ "Songs with Pictures" by M.B.K., Chicago Daily Tribune, November 12, 1961, page E34. (Reviewing a children's picture book of the music and lyrics of the song.)
  10. ^ Michael Hill (6 May 2017). The Mariposa Folk Festival: A History. Dundurn. pp. 28–. ISBN 978-1-4597-3774-7.
  11. ^ Edith Fowke; Carole Henderson-Carpenter (15 December 1982). A Bibliography of Canadian Folklore in English. University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division. pp. 78–. ISBN 978-1-4875-9717-7.
  12. ^ Ronald D. Cohen (2002). Rainbow Quest: The Folk Music Revival and American Society, 1940-1970. Univ of Massachusetts Press. pp. 89–. ISBN 1-55849-348-4.
  13. ^ Larry Sandberg; Dick Weissman (1976). The Folk Music Sourcebook. Knopf. p. 54. ISBN 978-0-394-49684-9.
  14. ^ Izzy Young (2013). The Conscience of the Folk Revival: The Writings of Israel "Izzy" Young. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 22–. ISBN 978-0-8108-8308-6.
  15. ^ Ronald D. Cohen (2008). A History of Folk Music Festivals in the United States: Feasts of Musical Celebration. Scarecrow Press. pp. 51–. ISBN 978-0-8108-6202-9.
  16. ^ "Alan Mills, CM". Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. Retrieved 2008-07-07.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ Anna Kearney Guigné (12 December 2016). The Forgotten Songs of the Newfoundland Outports: As Taken from Kenneth Peacock's Newfoundland Field Collection, 1951–1961. University of Ottawa Press. pp. 180–. ISBN 978-0-7766-2385-6.

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