Edmonton music champion Kirby loses cancer battle

EDMONTON – Edmonton’s music scene has lost one of its most passionate, tireless, generous and beloved champions.

Kirby, who seemed to single-handedly run the industry, died Tuesday due to complications from cancer and kidney failure.

Over the course of five decades, she worked as a venue booker, manager, publicist, writer, and live sound engineer. More importantly, she was a priceless mentor to hundreds, if not thousands, of young musicians, writers, techs, and promoters, making them feel welcome (and respected) as they took their first baby steps in the city’s scene.

She is survived by a daughter, Jade.

Kirby, whose first name was Kathy but who was only known by her last name, was diagnosed with advanced liver and colon cancer in May. A few weeks later, friends organized two benefits to help raise money for her treatment — a mix of surgery and chemotherapy with naturopathic options.

Dozens of musicians (and some of her closest pals), including Mike McDonald and Bobby Cameron, offered their talents, while hundreds attended the shows and donated money.

“She’s been my beacon in this storm called the music business,” Cameron told the Journal in June. “Her relationships in the industry run throughout the country. From FACTOR, to record labels to major booking agencies like Feldman and Associates and the Agency down to countless heavyweight managers and promoters.”

News of Kirby’s death spread quickly over Facebook, as friends and relatives across Canada shared their thoughts, including Wide Mouth Mason frontman Shaun Verreault:

“That bastard cancer pulled the faders down

But we can still hear the song

Tried to steal the Badass Queen of the Scene

But she won’t ever really be gone.

Thank you for everything, Kirby.

Love to all who loved her.”

Friends say Kirby didn’t want a funeral. A party celebrating her life is in the works.

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