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Folk Music and Civil Rights
Freedom is a Constant Struggle
home bio press

Artist Biography

Freedom Is A Constant Stuggle
Songs of The Mississippi Civil Rights Movement
2 1/2 Hour Double CD

About The Artists

Eric Andersen is a song-poet and recording artist who has released 18 albums. He was discovered by Tom Paxton in San Francisco and got his start in Greenwich Village along with Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan. Eric divides his time between New York and Norway where he writes and lives with painter Unni Askeland and their four children.

Guy and Candie Carawan, based at the Highlander Center in Tennessee for more than 30 years, have worked as cultural organizers in the South, and have performed nationally and internationally. They have produced four books and a dozen documentary albums reflecting both traditional cultures of Deep South African American and Appalachian communities; and the adoption of these cultures into social movements. They have also produced 12 albums of their own music. Guy is best known for spreading We Shall Overcome throughout the South in the early 1960's. He plays guitar, banjo, and hammered dulcimer. In addition to singing, Candie is an artist and potter.

Len Chandler is the co-founder/director of the Los Angeles Songwriter's Showcase and Senior Editor of the Songwriter Musepaper. Chandler's freedom songs were recorded at the Smithsonian and stored in the National Archives. Two songs he wrote on the Selma to Montgomery March are in the documentary film "King." He recorded for Columbia, Folkways, Broadside, Blue Thumb, FM, and King Records and wrote 15 topical songs a week for a year on KRLA's "Credibility Gap." Chandler's songs were also featured on KLET-TV's "Nusical Muse" and "Earth News Radio," syndicated to over 400 markets worldwide.

Judy Collins is well known on the political front. She was a participant in The Civil Rights Movement and in 1964 went to Mississippi with the Caravan of Music. She began studying classical piano at the age of five, but it was the music of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger and the traditional music of the folk revival that fired her love of lyrics, and by 16 made her move from playing the Steinway to playing the guitar. Judy has recorded 26 albums, written two books and co-directed the documentary film Antonia: A Portrait Of The Woman.

Barbara Dane is a blues and jazz singer who has lent her voice to the cause of racial and economic justice since 1945. She began singing union organizing songs which brought her to the shop gates of the 40's, freedom songs which carried her to Mississippi and anti-war songs which took her to storefronts and cellars on the outskirts of military posts. Barbara has toured extensively throughout the world, including Hanoi, Havana, and Japan.

Bob Dylan appeared alongside Pete Seeger and Theodore Bikel at a voter registration rally in Greenwood, Mississippi, on July 6, 1963. It was there that he first sang his song Only A Pawn In Their Game. Later that summer he performed the song during the great Civil Rights March On Washington. Bob Dylan arrived on the New York folk scene in early 1961 and signed with Columbia Records that same year.

Richard and Mimi Faria captured national attention as folk duo in the early 1960's, becoming one of the first groups to fuse folk material with a rock rhythm theme. Richard was the author of Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me (Random House), a poet, composer, and musician. Both Richard and Mimi's voices harmonized to create a unique sound accompanied by their dulcimer and guitar. They recorded three albums on Vanguard Records before Richard's death in a 1966 motorcycle accident.

Kim & Reggie Harris are Folk Era recording artists. They are versatile and gifted singers, composer, and instrumentalists whose commitment to the cause of freedom is reflected on their album In The Heat Of The Summer (Folk Era 1412). Kim and Reggie tour internationally with performances at theatres, festivals, clubs, colleges, and schools.

Carolyn Hester is a folksinger/songwriter. She came to attention through the unusual path of being presented by rock n' roll hero Buddy Holly. She, in turn, participated in the discovery of Bob Dylan and mentored Nanci Griffith. Pete Seeger has always been her biggest inspiration. Carolyn and her husband David Blume continue to tour the U.S.A. and England. They have two daughters, Karla and Amy.

Marshall Jones was involved in the Civil Rights Movement in Knoxville while studying at the University of Tennessee. His brother Matthew encouraged him to join the Freedom Singers in 1963 to work full-time against social injustice and inequality. Marshall composed In The Mississippi River to pay tribute to Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney and all of the others who were killed in the struggle.

Matthew Jones was one of the leaders of the Nashville student movement while a student at Tennessee State University in 1960. He wrote his first freedom song in 1961, and in 1963 developed the Danville Freedom Voices to go into the tabocco fields of Virginia and sing freedom songs. In Danville, he wrote many songs including the Ballad Of Medgar Evers. In the fall of 1963, Matthew went to Atlanta to organize the Freedom Singers. He remained with them until 1967. In addition to radio and television commercials and voice-overs, he occasionally appears in concert.

Donal Leace is a singer/songwriter, educator, and theatre director. He has worked, demonstrated and sung for human tolerance and understanding since the early 1960's, and has been fortunate enough to practice his crafts around the world. Currently, he chairs the theatre department at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

Julius Lester was a photograper, writer, and folksinger for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He has published more than 20 books and teaches in the Judaic Studies Department at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Magpie (Terry Leonino and Greg Artzner) began playing music together in Northeastern Ohio in 1973. Their interest in country, swing, jazz, blues, ragtime, traditional folk, and contemporary music has helped create an eclectic repertoire. Greg and Terry are best known for lending their voices to struggles for justice; whether it be for the rights of Native Peoples, the quest for peace, the homeless, human rights or healing the environment. Both were inspired at an early age by political events unfolding in the early 1960's, in particular Freedom Summer. They have toured extensively throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, England, and Scotland.

Phil Ochs was one of the musical spokesmen of the 1960's. His song, I Ain't Marchin' Anymore was one of the anthems of the anti-war movement. He was a committed activist who never compromised. Phil was a part of the Caravan of Music of Project Mississippi in 1964.

Odetta is a woman of wide-ranging political and musical interest. She began serious voice studies at 13, and in 1949 started her folk music odyssey. In 1987, the National Music Council presented her with the American Ealge Award for her distinguished contribution to American music and she was honored by the Federation of Protestant Charities for the contributions to numerous humanitarian organizations and causes. From Alabama to Zimbabwe, Odetta has captivated music lovers in many lands and from all facets of the world.

Tom Paxton has been a much admired songwriter since he helped define the folk movement in New York's musical community in the early 1960's. With the world as his prey and lavish gifts of expression at his command, Paxton continues to find much to question, laugh about, and celebrate through words and music. He has been performing continuously for the past three decades and has produced 32 albums, including award winning recordings for children. An album of new original material is due in 1994.

Peter, Paul and Mary have exemplified the folk tradition in their grassroots approach to both music and political change ever since their 1961 premiere performance at the Bitter End in New York's Greenwich Village. These three distinctly different artists, each with their own separate interests and solo projects, have managed to successfully combine their varied talents into a creative and ever evolving whole. Today, with the release of their latest project, Peter, Paul, and Mommy, Too, the trio's inspiring message of idealism and hope is reaching a fourth generation of fans.

Bernice Johnson Reagon, composer, singer, mother, historian, author, founder and artistic director of Sweet Honey In The Rock, lives in Washington, DC, where she also works as a curator for the Smithsonian Institution. Her latest book is We'll Understand It Better By and By: Pioneering African American Gospel Composer, she is working on Wade In The Water, a Smithsonian Institution and National Public Radio production on the history of African American sacred music.

Sharon Riley was born in Washington, DC, in 1950. She was trained at the Corcoran School of Art in her early years and was taught by numerous individuals outside of schools. Sharon has lived up and down the eastern seaboard from Bluefields, Nicaragua, to her present home in Bar Harbor, ME.

Faith Ringgold is a painter, mixed media sculptor, performance artist, writer and teacher. She is a professor of art at the University of California, San Diego. Faith's The Sunflowers Quilting Bee At Arles is part of The French Collection Part 1 series which is a tribute to her mother, Madame Willi Posey, and other African American women for their life long dedication to work, family, culture, and community.

Sweet Honey In The Rock, for 20 years Washington, DC's internationally renowned African American women's a capella quintet, has recorded 12 albums, won a Grammy award in the traditional folk category for their performance of "Sylvie" on the recording Vision Shared, and another Grammy nomination for "Emergency" on the recording Live At Carnegie Hall. The group's latest recording is Still On The Journey (Earthbeat! Records) with a second album for children, I Got Shoes (Music For Little People) scheduled for release in March 1994. Sweet Honey In The Rock celebrated its 20th Anniversary with the fall 1993 publication of We Who Believe In Freedom: Sweet Honey In The Rock . . . Still On The Journey (Anchor Books) by Bernice Johnson Reagon and Sweet Honey In The Rock.

Greg Trafidlo, Laura Pole, Neal Phillips, Robert Cardwell, and the Voices Of Zion wrote and recorded Summer 64/Oh Freedom specifically for this album. Greg, Laura, and Neal are multi-talented, award winning singer-songwriters based in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. Robert Cardwell and the Voices of Zion are a Lynchburg, VA, gospel group whose musical ministry of praise has been well received across the U.S. and Europe.


Acknowledgements

Words can never adequately express my gratitude to all of the artists who have aligned in appreciating the value of this commemorative effort. This project would never have been possible without their memories, talent and devotion.

I would also like to thank my sound engineer, Gary Lee from Wild Cat Studio, Allan Shaw and Mike Fleischer of Folk Era Records, my assistant and best friend Brad McKelvey, my attorney Jay Rosenthal, Dr. Lydia Fish for introducing me to Gary and Mike, Sonny Ochs for going beyond the call of duty, my wonderful parents, and all of the other people who have contributed so much of themselves to make this happen. There are too many of you to list, but I love and am indebted to each and every one of you.
--Susie Erenrich, Executive Director, Cultural Center For Social Change


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