The Story of Kiki O'Flaherty


We are to believe that Kiki O'Flaherty (nee Catherine Brigid O'Flaherty) was a nightclub singer in Chicago, Memphis and New Orleans in the late 1920's-50's. Her colorful life included an association with early Chicago opera companies, and work as an occasional model. There are no known recordings of her. We know her solely through a series of journals, a scrapbook of pictures, plus some personal items left in a trunk found in an attic of a house in Iowa.

The first photograph shows Kiki at age 16. Subsequently we find a handful of publicity portraits, old magazine pictures, and snapshots of Kiki at home, with friends or on the road with band members. The series' images are pulled from professional portraits, magazines and simple snapshots. From her writings we determine she was perceptive, had a strong sense of her heritage and family history, and an ability to grasp the larger issues occurring in everyday situations.

The series is ongoing as I piece together Kiki's story from the materials she may have left behind. It is believed she returned to Ireland in the early 1960's.

Kiki begins her journals....

On my 16th birthday, Mrs. Frick, our Chicago neighbor gave me a daily diary. Inside she wrote "use this wisely". My first thoughts as I thumbed through the blank pages, no larger than a recipe card, each page for a day of the year, was "good grief, only one page per day. I'm Mick O'Flaherty's daughter; I could fill this book in a day." I tucked it away, only to come across now, many years later. I am older, maybe wiser. I thought I would give it a whirl, fully recognizing that, while one's important events may be noted on a page, they don't always happen daily and they may require more than a page to adequately sort out. Plus, I have come to know, in my heart, that life is as much about the things that do not happen as the things that do.


Fine art by Patricia Delker