Holly Near in 2006
|Born||June 6, 1949|
Ukiah, California, U.S.
|Genres||Social change music, folk, cabaret|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, songwriter, actress, producer, motivational instructor|
|Years active||1963 – present|
|Labels||Calico Tracks Music, Redwood Records, Appleseed Recordings|
|Associated acts||Inti Illimani, Ronnie Gilbert, Klezmatics, Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Pete Seeger, Cris Williamson, Carrie Newcomer, Emma's Revolution|
Holly Near was born in Ukiah, California, in 1949 and was raised on a ranch in Potter Valley, California. She was eight years old when she first performed publicly, and she auditioned for Columbia Records when she was ten. She sang in all the high school musicals, talent shows and often was invited by local service groups to sing at their gatherings. Groups like the Soroptimist Club, Lions Club, and Garden Club. Her senior year she played Eliza Doolittle in Ukiah High School production of My Fair Lady. In the summer Holly attended performing arts camps such as Perry-Mansfield in Colorado and Ramblerny Performing Arts where she studied with jazz musicians Phil and Chan Woods and modern dancer/choreographer Joyce Trisler.
After starting high school in 1963, Holly Near began singing with three boys who called themselves the Freedom Singers, a folk group modeled after the Kingston Trio. When Holly joined, they began to sound more like The Weavers, three male voices and one female. Near learned later of the original Freedom Singers who sang as part of the Civil Rights Movement. Unbeknownst to her, Holly would soon meet one of the founding members of that group, Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, an artist who would be a great influence for the next 40 + years. She would also meet and work with the female singer in The Weavers, Ronnie Gilbert.
After high school, Near enrolled in the Theatre Arts program at UCLA; her freshman year she got the lead in the UCLA production of Guys and Dolls playing soprano Sarah Brown. Because Near was trained in a lower range she got nodules on her vocal chords and had to leave the show. She entered in to a long period of silence until her voice healed. After one year, she left UCLA and began to work in film and television as well as with anti war groups such as Another Mother for Peace.
Holly Near's professional career began in 1969 with a part on the television show The Mod Squad, which was followed by appearances in other shows, such as Room 222, All in the Family, and The Partridge Family. She also appeared in films such as Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, and Minnie and Moskowitz, and had a prominent role in the 1991 film Dogfight.
She was briefly a member of the musical comedy troupe, "First National Nothing", and appeared on the troupe's only album, If You Sit Real Still and Hold My Hand, You Will Hear Absolutely Nothing (Columbia Records – LP C 30006).
In 1970, Near was a cast member of the Broadway musical Hair. Following the Kent State shootings in May of that year, the entire cast staged a silent vigil in protest. The song, "It Could Have Been Me" (which was released on A Live Album, 1974), was her heartfelt response to the shootings. In 1971, she joined the FTA (Free The Army) Tour, an anti-Vietnam War road show of music, comedy, and plays that performed for soldiers, many of whom were resisting war and racism from within the military. The tour was organized by antiwar activist Fred Gardner and actors Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland. Near was only 21 and the youngest member of the troupe.
In 1972, Near founded an independent record label called Redwood Records to produce and promote music by "politically conscious artists from around the world". She was one of the first women to found an independent record company. Near's record company went out of business in the mid-1990s due to financial difficulties.
During her long career in folk and protest music, Holly Near has worked with a wide array of musicians, including Ronnie Gilbert, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Mercedes Sosa, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Meg (Shambhavi) Christian, Cris Williamson, Linda Tillery, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, Harry Belafonte, and many others, as well as the Chilean exile group Inti-Illimani. Holly Near has been recognized many times for her work for social change, including honors from the ACLU, the National Lawyers Guild, the National Organization for Women, NARAS, Ms. Magazine (Woman of the Year), and the Legends of Women's Music Award. In 1989 Holly Near received a Dr of Humane Letters at World College West in California.
Near wrote an autobiography in the early nineties called Fire in the Rain, Singer in the Storm. Later, with her sister Timothy, Near co-wrote a one-woman show based on the stories in the book. The show was presented at The San Jose Rep and in Los Angeles at The Mark Taper Forum, as well as productions in San Francisco and off Broadway in NYC. In April 2004, Holly performed at the March for Women's Lives in Washington, DC where she sang "We Are Gentle Angry People" and "Fired Up" a capella. The following year, Near was named among the "1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize". Near continues an active tour schedule and as of 2012 had a discography of 29 albums. She is still active as a performer and composer, and she has begun issuing CDs available through her website that include tracks from her out-of-print albums. Her song "Singing For Our Lives" appears in Singing the Living Tradition, the official hymnal of the Unitarian Universalist Association, under the title "We Are A Gentle, Angry People" (Hymn #170). The hymn was also performed by Quaker Friends in an episode of the TV series Six Feet Under. In 2015, the same song, credited as "Singing For Our Lives" appeared in the Australian independent film The Lives We Lead, alongside its theme song "I Am Willing", another rousing Near-penned protest song.
Holly Near was named as an Honoree for National Women's History Month for 2015. She continues to perform concerts as well as music festivals and rallies. Near hosted many of the tributes to both Pete Seeger and Ronnie Gilbert, two members of the seminal folk group The Weavers.
Holly has been an honored guest at several of the GALA Gatherings, a conference of GLBTQ choirs and choruses. In her work with the choruses she focuses on diction, drama, and understanding the intention of the lyric. She also appears as a soloist with several of the choruses and many of her songs have been arranged for choral singing.
In 2018, Near released a new recording titled 2018, reflecting on issues including the environment, aging, domestic violence and the unresolved storm damage in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria. In October 2018, a documentary film titled Holly Near: Singing For Our Lives made by award-winning director Jim Brown premiered at the Mill Valley Film Festival, detailing Near's life and work.
As a result of her travels in the Pacific with the FTA show, Near became a feminist, linking international feminism and anti-war activism. In 1976, Near came out as a lesbian and began a three-year relationship with musician Meg Christian. Near was probably the first out lesbian to be interviewed in People Magazine. She added LGBT issues to her international peace work as she continued to present social change music around the world and at home. Although Near was one of the most visible artists in the lesbian community, she was also becoming aware that "monogamous" defined her sexuality more than any other title.
Near has been in a relationship with a man since 1994. However, she does not identify as bisexual. When asked why in a 2010 interview by JD Doyle for Queer Music Heritage, she replied,
I don't know why. Just isn't a handle I relate to. I include human and civil rights in all that I do. I am monogamous. I relate to that term. I am a feminist. If I am with a woman I am a feminist. If I am alone I am a feminist. If I am with a man I am a feminist. And until the one I am with and I part ways, then I am just what I am in that relationship and I don't much think about what I will do next. I focus more on what I bring to that relationship. It is a full-time job being honest one moment at a time, remembering to love, to honor, to respect. It is a practice, a discipline, worthy of every moment. I think my feminism and my ability to love has been highly informed by having had lesbian relationships. The quality of my life has, without question, been elevated.
For a brief moment in time I struggled with sexual identity, somewhere in the mid-'80s. Then I realized it was the wrong question for me. That is not to say it is the wrong question for others. It just wasn't important to me. So I haven't really thought much about it since. I am going to sing lesbian love songs and support gay rights no matter what. The rest is public relations.
That said, Near is dedicated to the rights of LGBTQ+ communities and continues to work to create a cultural forum for diversity. Near writes, "For many, sexual identity and/or gender identity is the primary door through which they walk. It is what politicized them. It is what feeds their emotional and spiritual perspectives. I totally honor this. Even though sexual preference is maybe 5th or 10th on my personal list of priorities now, I will always work for all of us to have self determination over our bodies, our identities, our relationship choices."
In 2014, Near was diagnosed with breast cancer. With early detection, she had successful surgery and radiation but did not need to do chemotherapy.
Near spent one year traveling across the US camping out of her car and staying with friends. She then went to Argentina and Chile to study and write. She currently rents a one bedroom apartment in Sonoma County, Ca. and she spends a lot of time in NYC. She drives a 2003 VW. Near is "auntie" and "grandma" to several young people even though she never had children.
Angel, Angel, Down We Go is a 1969 film. It was also known as Cult of the Damned. It is the sole directorial credit for playwright and screenwriter Robert Thom, who had previously written Wild in the Streets for American International Pictures, who produced this follow-up.It was the first film actress Jennifer Jones made following her suicide attempt.It was made for Sam Katzman's Four Leaf Productions.Ash Grove (music club)
The Ash Grove was a folk music club located at 8162 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, founded in 1958 by Ed Pearl and named after the Welsh folk song, "The Ash Grove."
In its short fifteen years, the Ash Grove forever altered the music scene in Los Angeles and helped many artists find a West Coast audience. Bob Dylan recalled that, "I'd seen posters of folk shows at the Ash Grove and used to dream about playing there...."The club was a locus of interaction between older folk and blues legends, such as Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, Earl Hooker and Muddy Waters, and young artists that produced the 'Sixties music revolution. Among those Pearl brought to the Ash Grove were Doc Watson, Pete Seeger, June Carter, Johnny Cash, Jose Feliciano, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez, Johnny Otis, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Ian and Sylvia, Kathy and Carol, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, New Lost City Ramblers, The Weavers, The Greenbriar Boys, Lightnin' Hopkins, Luke "Long Gone" Miles, Barbara Dane, Holly Near, Arlo Guthrie, Rising Sons, Mance Lipscomb, Guy and Candie Carawan, John Jacob Niles, Bukka White, Howlin' Wolf, Johnny Shines, John Fahey, Willie Dixon, Lonnie Mack and Kris Kristofferson.
The Limeliters performed at the Ash Grove on July 29, 1960. Their performance was recorded and became the LP "Tonight: In Person - The Limeliters." The group consisted of Lou Gottlieb, Alex Hassilev and Glen Yarbrough; quoting from the back cover of the album, "You leave the Ash Grove convinced your friends were right. This group IS great." Lee Shito,
The BillboardAvante! Festival
Every year, in the first weekend of September (since 1976) the Avante! Festival (Portuguese: Festa do Avante!) is held named after the official newspaper of the Portuguese Communist Party. After taking part in different locations around Lisbon, like the FIL Park, Ajuda or Loures, it is now carried out in Amora, a town near Seixal in a ground bought by the Party after a massive fundraising campaign in the early 90s. The campaign was considered by the Party as the only way to avoid the boycott organised by the owners of the previous festivals grounds, that culminated in 1987 with the festival not being carried out after 11 editions. The festival is usually visited and participated in by hundreds of thousands of people, making the outside of the ground seem a gigantic camping park. The party itself consists of a three-day festival of music, with the participation of hundreds of Portuguese and international bands and artists in five different stages, ethnography, gastronomy, debates, a book & music fair, theatre (Avanteatro), cinema (Cineavante) and sporting events. Several foreign communist parties also participate.
In 28 editions, the Festival counted with the presence of several famous artists, either Portuguese or foreign, like Chico Buarque, Baden Powell, Ivan Lins, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Holly Near, Johnny Clegg, Charlie Haden, Judy Collins, Richie Havens, Tom Paxton, The Soviet Circus Company, the Kuban Cossacks Choir, Dexys Midnight Runners, The Band, Hevia, Adriano Correia de Oliveira, Carlos Paredes, Jorge Palma, Manoel de Oliveira and many others.
The preparation of the party begins right after the end of the previous party. Hundreds of the party's members and friends, mostly young people, volunteer for the hard work of building a small town in a few months.Barbara Higbie
Barbara Higbie (born 1958) is a Grammy nominated, Bammy award winning pianist, composer, violinist, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. She has played on over 65 CDs including 3 tunes on the recent Carlos Santana CD. A longtime Windham Hill recording artist, she has also recorded for Olivia/Second Wave records and Slowbaby Records. She resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family. She is a folk, jazz, pop, and fusion singer-songwriter, noted for her highly melodic, jazz/folk piano performances. She has toured nationally and internationally since the early 1980s. An early recording artist on the Windham Hill record label, she formed and played with the group Montreux along with Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, Todd Phillips, and Michael Manring. She recorded a critically acclaimed album titled Unexpected with singer Teresa Trull in 1983, which was included in The Boston Globe's Guide to Best Albums of 1983. Higbie and Trull teamed up again in 1997 to record an album titled Playtime. Since 1990, Barbara Higbie has released a number of solo albums on the Windham Hill and Slowbaby labels. She is known as a versatile and soulful musician.
Born in Michigan and raised in Indiana, she spent several years as a teenager in Ghana with her family. She went to Mills College, attended the Sorbonne in Paris, and collected traditional music in West Africa on a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. It was in Paris that she met Darol Anger and began a fruitful musical collaboration. Together they recorded the record Tideline (1982), one of the early successful records of Windham Hill. Two years later they led a group with three other musicians (Mike Marshall, Todd Phillips, and Andy Narrel) for the Montreux Jazz Festival. The concert was considered so successful that a recording made at the concert was released as a Windham Hill record (Live at Montreux–Darol Anger/Barbara Higbie Quintet) and a new group was formed. However, after two studio releases, Sign Language and Let Them Say, the group disbanded. Barbara occasionally collaborates with her Montreux colleagues. She has performed with Bonnie Raitt, Terry Riley, The Kronos Quartet, Jaron Lanier, Cris Williamson, Holly Near, Teresa Trull and Ferron.
Barbara Higbie has an active performing schedule. In August 2006, she participated in the Windham Hill 30th Anniversary Concert. She spent 18 months living in Hawaii with her family and moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area in June 2009. She is married to husband Wayne, and they have one daughter, Lena.Charlie King (folk singer)
Charlie King is a folk singer and activist. He was born and raised in Brockton, Massachusetts in 1947 and cites the folk music revival of the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War era as his as musical influences. His songs have been recorded and sung by other performers such as Pete Seeger, Holly Near, Ronnie Gilbert, John McCutcheon, Arlo Guthrie, Peggy Seeger, Chad Mitchell and Judy Small. Honors include an "Indie" award for one of the top three folk recordings of 1984. In May 1998 the War Resisters League gave their Peacemaker Award to Charlie and to Odetta. Pete Seeger nominated Charlie for the Sacco-Vanzetti Social Justice Award, which he received in November 1999. Charlie King has released a dozen solo albums since 1976. He has also released three albums with the touring ensemble Bright Morning Star, and numerous compilation albums with other artists.
Folk legend Peggy Seeger said, "If we had more Charlie Kings in the world I'd be less worried," to which Tom Paxton added, "Luckily, we have him!"
King regularly performs at Camp Kinderland in Tolland, Massachusetts.F.T.A.
F.T.A. is a 1972 American documentary film starring Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland and directed by Francine Parker.Hollywood, Missouri
Hollywood is an unincorporated community in southern Dunklin County, Missouri, United States. It is located less than a mile from Route 164 about twelve miles south of Kennett.
Hollywood had its start ca. 1898 when the railroad was extended to that point. The community was named for the holly near the original town site. A post office called Hollywood was established in 1898, and remained in operation until 1974.In Mourning and in Rage
In Mourning and in Rage was a work of performance art and activism by Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz. The performance took place in Los Angeles, California in 1977 as a response to the rapes and murders covered by the media in the "Hillside Strangler" case."As if the horror of these crimes wasn't enough, the press coverage of the events sensationalized the sexual nature of the crimes. For feminist activists in Los Angeles involved in the movement to end violence against women, this analysis was unacceptable."A continuation of Three Weeks in May, Lacy and Labowitz designed In Mourning and in Rage as a personal response to the sensationalized media coverage of violence against women as well as an expression of grief and rage towards the loss of life. The performance was a collaboration between Lacy, Labowitz, Bia Lowe, Holly Near, City Councilwoman Pat Russel, the Woman's Building, Women Against Violence Against Women, and Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women. The event was staged for mass media coverage at the Los Angeles City Hall.The performance consisted of a large funeral motorcade of black-clad women lead by a hearse from the Woman's Building to the Los Angeles City Hall. Once there, nine seven-feet-tall women draped in black emerged from the hearse along with a women dressed in red. The mourners then climbed the steps of city hall where each of the nine women gave a statement into a microphone expressing their solidarity with the murdered women, emphasized by a chorus of "In memory of our sisters, we fight back!" from the rest of the motorcade. By making this performance public as well as highly crafted for media coverage, Lacy and Labowitz looked to highlight not only the deaths of the ten women killed by the Hillside Strangler, but the significantly larger population of women victims whose stories went uncovered by mainstream media.The piece concluded with direct statements to the press explaining the rationale for the piece as well as a speech demanding resources for women's self defense. Singer-songwriter Holly Near performed her song "Fight Back" which was written specifically for this event.John Bucchino
John Bucchino (born 1943) is an American songwriter of both lyrics and music, an accompanist, a cabaret performer, and a teacher based in New York City. He has been called "super-talented". Stephen Schwartz said his songs have "insightful lyrics and gorgeous melodies", "rich harmonic textures and subtle…inner voicings." His music has "beautiful intricacies."Bucchino is an "out" gay composer, included in the Queer Songbook, and interviewed in LGBT publications. His songs are frequently performed by gay men's choruses. He contributed to a number of gay-themed collections, including Feeding the flame. Songs by men to end AIDS (1990), A love worth fighting for and Winter Moon, both "a celebration of gay and lesbian singers and songwriters" (1995), and The gay 90's (1997).Leslie Ann Jones
Leslie Ann Jones is a multiple Grammy Award-winning recording engineer working as Director of Music Recording and Scoring at Skywalker Sound, a Lucasfilm, Ltd. company. She is a past Chair of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Board of Trustees, the organization that awards Grammys, and in 2018 was inducted into the TEC Awards Hall of Fame. She is the daughter of novelty drummer, percussionist and bandleader Spike Jones and his wife, singer Helen Grayco.Radical Harmonies
Radical Harmonies is a 2002 American independent documentary film directed and executive produced by Dee Mosbacher that presents a history of women's music, which has been defined as music by women, for women, and about women. The film was screened primarily at LGBTQ film festivals in 2003 and 2004.
Using archival performance footage, still photographs, and interviews with many women involved in the early years and heyday of women's music, Radical Harmonies presents a history of the genre that one scholar has described as "the soundtrack for the cultural arm of radical feminism". The film depicts "women's music as both a cultural network comprising visual arts, dance, theater, and music, and as a utopian vision of women's community". The interviewees include not only women's music pioneers such as Cris Williamson, Holly Near, Linda Tillery, Mary Watkins, Ferron, Alix Dobkin and Bernice Johnson Reagon but also festival producers, concert promoters, sound engineers, sign language interpreters, dancers, comedians, choral conductors, photographers, journalists, record distributors, and record label executives who were part of the cultural movement that was essentially unknown to mainstream audiences. Younger musicians and bands such as Toshi Reagon, Ubaka Hill, Bitch and Animal, and Tribe 8 are also featured, as well as interviews with mainstream artists Amy Ray and Ani DiFranco who "insist on the importance of the women's music movement to their own careers".The documentary is a Woman Vision film. Director Mosbacher, a lesbian feminist activist filmmaker and psychiatrist, established Woman Vision as a nonprofit organization "to promote equal treatment of all people through the production and use of educational media". Musicians involved in the film's production include June Millington as associate director, Margie Adam as associate producer, and Judith Casselberry as production consultant.Ronnie Gilbert
Ruth Alice "Ronnie" Gilbert (September 7, 1926 – June 6, 2015) was an American folk singer, songwriter, actress and political activist. She was one of the original members of the music quartet the Weavers, as a contralto with Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, and Fred Hellerman.Slaughterhouse-Five (film)
Slaughterhouse-Five is a 1972 science fiction film based on Kurt Vonnegut's novel of the same name about a writer who tells a story in random order of how he was a soldier in World War II and was abducted by aliens. The screenplay is by Stephen Geller and the film was directed by George Roy Hill. It stars Michael Sacks, Ron Leibman, and Valerie Perrine, and features Eugene Roche, Sharon Gans, Holly Near, and Perry King. The scenes set in Dresden were filmed in Prague. The other scenes were filmed in Minnesota.
Vonnegut wrote about the film soon after its release, in his preface to Between Time and Timbuktu:
"I love George Roy Hill and Universal Pictures, who made a flawless translation of my novel Slaughterhouse-Five to the silver screen ... I drool and cackle every time I watch that film, because it is so harmonious with what I felt when I wrote the book."Stone Soup Coffeehouse
The Stone Soup Coffeehouse is a coffeehouse based in Rhode Island. It is one of the oldest folk music venues in Southern New England, having operated for over three decades. As of July 2012, it was housed in St. Paul's Episcopal Church, in Pawtucket, the most recent of many venues that have housed it.Founded in 1980, it has presented concerts by artists such as Catie Curtis, Pete Seeger, Patty Larkin, Ellis Paul, The Low Anthem, Northern Lights, Holly Near, and Marshall Crenshaw, and continues to present a mix of national and local artists.
In 2003, it had to ask for donations for the first time; prior to that, they had been able to support themselves on admission fees.The Peace Museum
The Peace Museum in Chicago was founded in 1981 by muralist Mark Rogovin and Marjorie Craig Benton, a former US UNICEF representative, and closed around 2007. Museum staff included Marianne Philbin, Paul Nebenzahl, Ruth Barrett, John Nawn, Kerry Cochrane, Sharon Queen, Sidney Schoenberger, Charles Thomas, Paul Murphy, LuAnne Lewandowski and Martin Moy. Terri Hemmert, Jann Wenner, Paul Caruso and Robin Caruso, Paul Natkin, Jim Hirsch, Aaron Freeman, V. J. McAleer, Harold Washington, Danny Davis, Susan Catania and Harle Montgomery contributed to the Museum's growth.
In 1982, The Peace Museum hosted Give Peace A Chance, a major exhibition about music and peace, featuring John Lennon's guitar inscribed with two drawings of John and Yoko Ono in Lennon's hand. Ono wrote the dedication to the book for the exhibition, published by Chicago Review Press. Also featured in the show were U2, Bob Marley, Holly Near, Joan Baez, Stevie Wonder, Country Joe McDonald, Harry Chapin, Pete Seeger and Graham Nash, among others.
Chicago's Peace Museum opened its doors in 1981 with an exhibition called "The Unforgettable Fire" which featured drawings from survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings. The exhibit drew the attention of the Irish rock band U2 who held benefits for the museum and named their next LP record after the exhibition. The Museum also hosted poster exhibitions of the art of John Heartfield, Daumier and Gary Trudeau.
The Peace Museum was one of two peace museums in the US. The other, and the only one still operating, is the Dayton International Peace Museum.
The Peace Museum closed sometime around 2007, In 2011, a suit was brought by the State of Illinois to protect and distribute its collection.Ukiah High School
Ukiah High School is a public school in Ukiah, California.Walter Robinson (composer)
Walter Robinson is an African American composer of the late 20th century. He is most notable for his 1977 song Harriet Tubman, which has been recorded by folk musicians such as Holly Near, John McCutcheon, and others. He is also the composer of several operas.Women's music
Women's music (also womyn's music or wimmin's music) is the music by women, for women, and about women. The genre emerged as a musical expression of the second-wave feminist movement as well as the labor, civil rights, and peace movements. The movement (in the USA) was started by lesbian performers such as Cris Williamson, Meg Christian and Margie Adam, African-American musicians including Linda Tillery, Mary Watkins, Gwen Avery and activists such as Bernice Johnson Reagon and her group Sweet Honey in the Rock, and peace activist Holly Near. Women's music also refers to the wider industry of women's music that goes beyond the performing artists to include studio musicians, producers, sound engineers, technicians, cover artists, distributors, promoters, and festival organizers who are also women.