Born to a blonde white Australian mother and a black American serviceman father in 1948, during a time when what society thought, mattered, Sharyn Killens was the Inconvenient Child.
Placed in neglectful foster care at birth, at 19 months old, baby Sharyn was rescued by visiting African American champion boxer Freddie Dawson and taken to live in a ‘party house’ in Sydney’s red light district of Kings Cross. But at age five, her absent elegant mother abandoned her in a convent–orphanage, where she suffered years of abuse at the hands of a cruel nun.
By fifteen, as a runaway teenager on the streets of Kings Cross, she was arrested and sentenced to notorious Parramatta Girls Home; a reformatory where girls were stripped of their dignity and punished frequently. She was then transferred to Hay Girls Institution; an experimental disciplinary centre – in truth, a hard labor prison for young girls.
Throughout, her solace was her love of music and her burning ambition to become a singer as she battled for her mother’s love and approval, and her black American father’s denied identity.
Sharyn has become a popular singer and an established entertainer later on. She went to America to search her roots. She has written her life stories in her book ‘The inconvenient child‘ which was published last year and available for loan at Parramatta City Library. Sharyn’s author talk will certainly be a very interesting one.