Trish Keenan

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Trish Keenan
Keenan performing in 2010
Keenan performing in 2010
Background information
Birth namePatricia Anne Keenan
Born(1968-09-28)28 September 1968
Winson Green, Birmingham, England
Died14 January 2011(2011-01-14) (aged 42)
Warwick, Warwickshire, England
  • Singer-songwriter
  • musician
Years active1995–2011
Associated acts

Patricia Anne Keenan (28 September 1968 – 14 January 2011)[2] was an English musician and singer. She was the lead vocalist and founding member of the electronic band Broadcast, which she formed in 1995. The band released a total of five studio albums, including The Noise Made by People (2000), Haha Sound (2003), and Tender Buttons (2005), and earned a cult following.[2]

Keenan died unexpectedly in January 2011 of pneumonia, shortly after she had contracted swine flu while completing a tour of Australia with Broadcast.

Early life[edit]

Patricia Anne Keenan was born in Winson Green, a multicultural inner-city area in west Birmingham, England. She had two brothers, Malcolm and John, and two sisters, Maxine and Barbara.[3] She was raised by her mother Zena,[3] who was a prostitute: "I have got no problem with people knowing me or any personal details about myself," Keenan commented. "I have had a crazy life: I was brought up by a prostitute."[4]

Keenan attended Archbishop Grimshaw Roman Catholic school, presently known as John Henry Newman Catholic school. She worked a range of catering jobs after school until at the age of 21 when she moved to Moseley, a bohemian enclave.[3] She studied Creative Writing at Birmingham University while working on her music career.[3]


Soon after moving to Moseley, Keenan formed a musical duo called Hayward Winters, and subsequently met James Cargill at a 1960s psychedelic revival club. The two of them formed a relationship over their shared interest and formed a folk band, Pan Am Flight Bag. The band was short-lived only performing two gigs before they reformed in 1996 as Broadcast, which included guitarist Tim Felton, drummer Steve Perkins, and keyboardist Roj Stevens.[2][5]

With Broadcast, Keenan released a total of five studio albums, including The Noise Made by People (2000), Haha Sound (2003), and Tender Buttons (2005);[6][7][8] Keenan wrote the latter while her father was dying of cancer.[4] In 2009 the group released a collaborative album Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age, with The Focus Group, the music project of graphic designer Julian House (who also designed all of Broadcast's album sleeves).[9]

Keenan lived in and near Birmingham throughout her life, and her music career was based there. In an interview with Billboard, she said: "There's really a down tone in Birmingham. People here definitely underplay themselves. There's definitely a lack of confidence, and almost a resignation and defeatism among musicians here."[10]


Musical style[edit]

Keenan possessed an alto vocal range.[11] Music critics noted Keenan's vocals as "childlike" and "alluringly aloof,"[12] often "woven within squishy analog synths, pastoral melodies, and mod-style rhythms."[13] In a review published in Spin in 2001, Keenan's vocals and instrumentation alongside bandmate James Cargill were likened to being "stuck in a time warp–the sound of '70s wife-swapping parties with beanbags and unhappy children serving sausages on sticks."[14] Keenan often explored cut-up lyric techniques, inspired partly by her interest in the occult.[3]


Keenan suffered from stage fright in the beginnings of her career, and earned a reputation for "shoegazing onstage introversion."[15] As the band progressed, however, Keenan's stage fright receded: "I used to get nervous like the whole of that day of the show, and now it only happens the moment I walk onstage," she said in a 1998 interview. "When you listen to me sing my first line, you can always tell my heart is in my throat. Headlining gigs is a confidence booster."[15]


During a tour in Australia just before Christmas, Keenan contracted the swine flu virus H1N1.[16] It was reported on 14 January 2011 that she had died in the hospital.[17] A statement by Warp Record Label said: "This is an untimely, tragic loss and we will miss Trish dearly - a unique voice, an extraordinary talent and a beautiful human being. Rest in peace."[18]

Within hours of her death, a link was posted on Broadcast's Twitter to a mix of psychedelic, folk, and world music that Keenan had made for a friend prior to leaving for the band's Australian tour.[19] Shortly after, an intimate short film Keenan recorded on Super 8 was released, which showed festival-goers at the 2007 Moseley Folk festival.[19] Tributes to Keenan were made from numerous musicians, including Toro y Moi, Graham Coxon of Blur, and Colin Meloy of The Decemberists.[19]



Guest appearances[edit]


  1. ^ Larkin, Colin (2008). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. 1. MUZE. p. 845. ISBN 978-0-195-31373-4.
  2. ^ a b c Lentz III, Harris M. (3 May 2012). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2011. McFarland. p. 179. ISBN 978-0-7864-9134-6.
  3. ^ a b c d e Long, Pat (18 January 2011). "Trish Keenan obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  4. ^ a b Cardew, Ben (18 October 2014). "Broadcast - an interview with Trish Keenan from 2005". Medium. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  5. ^ Long, Pat (18 January 2011). "Trish Keenan obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  6. ^ Thiessen, Brock (14 January 2011). "Broadcast's Trish Keenan Dies in Hospital". Exclaim!. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  7. ^ Harvell, Jess (17 January 2011). "Afterword: Broadcast's Trish Keenan". Pitchfork.
  8. ^ O'Neal, Sean (14 January 2011). "R.I.P. Trish Keenan of Broadcast". The A.V. Club.
  9. ^ Phares, Heather. "Broadcast & the Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  10. ^ "Birmingham, U.K., Gaining International Respect". Billboard: 92. 22 February 1997 – via Google Books. open access
  11. ^ "Music Previews". Seattle Weekly. 9 October 2006. Archived from the original on 14 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  12. ^ Vincentelli, Elisabeth (April 2000). "Broadcast". Out. Preview: 106 – via Google Books. open access
  13. ^ "Broadcast: Haha Sound". CMJ New Music Monthly. College Media: 43. 2003.
  14. ^ "Reviews: Broadcast". Spin. Spin Media, LLC. 17 (1–4): 197.
  15. ^ a b "Broadcast". Option. Sonic Options Network (78–81): 24. 1998.
  16. ^ Perpetua, Matthew (14 January 2011). "Broadcast Singer Trish Keenan Dies". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  17. ^ "Broadcast's Trish Keenan dies after getting swine flu", BBC News, 14 January 2011, retrieved 26 December 2017
  18. ^ Ganz, Jacob (14 January 2011). "Trish Keenan, Singer In Dreamy Electronic Group Broadcast, Has Died". NPR. Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  19. ^ a b c Worthy, Stephen (17 January 2011). "Broadcast's Trish Keenan: a singer for whom life was a discovery". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  20. ^ Cooper, Leonie (10 February 2011). "Broadcast's Trish Keenan to make posthumous album appearance". NME. Retrieved 24 September 2018.

External links[edit]