Smithsonian Folkways Remembers Sonia Malkine (1923-2014)
Smithsonian Folkways remembers French-American folksinger, lute player, TV/radio program host, and peace activist Sonia Malkine (1923–2014). Born in Paris, she fled France after the Nazi invasion in the early 1940s and joined the Spanish resistance in 1943. Her memoir Chica recounts her experiences during this time. After coming to America and settling in Woodstock, NY, she began performing with the encouragement of folklorist Sam Eskin. From 1960 to 1972, Malkine hosted three folklore-based radio programs, a PBS television series, and also appeared on Pete Seeger’s Rainbow Quest in 1964. Besides her activism and radio programs, Malkine recorded five albums of French folk songs, including two for Folkways: Sonia Malkine Sings French Folk Songs (1964) and Sonia Malkine Sings French Songs from the Provinces (1966). In the liner notes to the latter she states, “My only ambition is to bring to the American public a broader and better idea of French folk music, singing these songs as honestly and lovingly as I know how!” She was predeceased by her husband, Georges Malkine, and daughter, Kim Malkine, and is survived by four children. She lived to be 90.