Sara Creedon Cleveland

Sara Creedon Cleveland

Courtesy of Colleen Cleveland

          Sara Creedon (1905-1987) was born in Hartford, New York, in Washington County just east of Glens Falls, near the barge canal. She was the youngest of thirteen children. She married Everett Cleveland just after World War I. In the 1950s, after Everett was killed in a car accident, Sara went to live with her son Jim and his family in Hudson Falls. They later moved to Brant Lake. 

          Sara loved to sing. As a girl, she had heard her mother sing traditional songs from the British Isles. Sara absorbed them like a sponge and took up the habit of singing while she swept floors, washed dishes or drove the car. Sara’s father also taught her Irish street songs. Her Uncle Bob was a lumberjack and taught Sara songs from the lumber camps. From her half-brother Raymond she learned cowboy and hobo songs.

Sara Creedon Cleveland

Ballads and Songs of the Upper Hudson Valley,

Sara Cleveland

          Caroline and Sandy Paton, who owned Folk Legacy Records in Vermont, were impressed by Sara’s singing style and her lovely, clear voice. They invited Sara to record an album on the Folk Legacy label. Sandy Paton said Sara knew over 400 songs, the most of any singer he ever recorded.

          At one point the Patons asked her to sing a song from her repertoire she called “Queen Jane.” As she started to sing they found she was singing a ballad they knew as “The King’s Dochter [daughter] Lady Jean”. But Sara’s version was the most complete they had ever heard. As they further researched in ballad histories, they found that Sara was the only person in North America to be carrying this centuries-old ballad on to future generations.

           Sara performed at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Chicago Folk Festival, Fox Hollow, Newport and the National Festival of American Folklife. In 1976 Sara was invited to the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife in Washington, D.C. 

          Granddaughter Colleen Cleveland says of Sara, “She was feisty, opinionated and tough. She could be this sweet little old lady one minute, then turn around and swear like a lumberjack.”

Sara Creedon Cleveland