Holly Near – USA

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

If Woody Guthrie were alive today he would be Holly Near. This kind, gentle person is one of the great folk singers, writers, activist and teachers alive. She was the one of the first women to ever create an independent record company called Redwood Records over thirty years ago. She has been a major presence in the LGBT, feminist, peace and justice movements her entire life. When one thinks of champions of civil rights and human rights you think of Holly Near. Most of all, Holly is a brilliant singer and entertainer who has sung in all corners of the world. Coming from a left, feminist and activist viewpoint, we asked her to discuss her support of Obama with us … (full text, Sept. 15, 2008).

She says: “We are a gentle angry people We are a land of many colors We are gay and straight together We are a peaceful loving people And we are singing, singing for our lives”. (1000peacewomen).

Find her personal life on wikipedia.

Some videos of Holly Near singing, on YouTube:

  • I am Willing, 2.13 min;
  • Language of Your Love, 3.35 min;
  • The Gypsy Dances On – Holly Near, 2.55 min;
  • Holly Near – Gentle Angry People, 1.42.

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Holly Near – USA

Find her on Redwood Records, with her Art and Activism, her Bio, her photoalbum, her concerts, her discography and with her music.

… Holly Near was a singer and performer from a young age.  She grew up with parents who were passionate about their world and their country.  Holly had many musical experiences, including a time in “Hair” on Broadway.   When she was in her early 20s, she met some of the most well-known political activists and expressed her own anti-war sentiments through her music … (full text).

Comparisons: The most obvious comparisons to Holly Near are her contemporaries: Joan Baez, Janis Ian, Mary Travers, and Joni Mitchell … (full text).

Radical lesbian activist and Vietnam War protester Holly Near has been a respected voice in the women’s folk movement – and the women’s movement itself – since the early 1970s … (full text).

She says also: … “I didn’t work for any of the candidates. I don’t like either party much and have always worked outside of the mainstream political system. But I do vote. Kucinich’s ideas were probably the closest to my own. I have a friend who voted for Edwards by absentee ballot but by the time the actual California Primary happened, he had withdrawn so her vote was wasted. Clinton would have been her second choice. It is crazy her vote didn’t count. We need a new system. I voted for Obama in the primary” … (full text).

Holly Near’s sense of justice, sense of culture, and sense of humor continue to delight and astound. Her new material keeps her solidly positioned as one of the nation’s finest political artists. And she adds surprising renditions of songs by Harry Nilsson, Cheryl Wheeler and Paul Simon! Guest musicians include Michael Manring, June Millington, Alex de Grassi, Jackeline Rago, Mark Ford, Quique Cruz … (full text).

And she says: “I don’t believe in nirvana. If nirvana was handed to us on a silver platter, this would be the first day of our struggle to keep it … and: I’m not allowing my perspective to be dictated by the dominant culture … and: If you have the guts to keep making mistakes, your wisdom and intelligence leap forward with huge momentum … and: It is essential that men start being interested in and excited by how women think … and: My creativity and my political work are linked. I don’t do this work out of guilt or out of responsibility … and: My parents encouraged thought. You’ll get through life better if you learn how to think … and: Once women are not excluded, I don’t think any of us will give a damn what pronouns are used. That wasn’t the point … and: Part of keeping space open is not to try to choose a form – to spend more time thinking about content, and let form take care of itself … and: To be always in a state of wonder is a kind of sensitivity that can sometimes be an extraordinary blessing and sometimes a real pain … and: To come to a concert and hear a lot of songs from a female perspective should not make men say, ‘Oh well, that’s for women’ … and: When an audience comes to one of my concerts, I hope they’ll see themselves, somewhere, in one of the songs … and: You just keep feeding hogwash to people, and pretty soon they’ll eat it … all and much mre on brainyquote.com.

Find her and her publications also on yahoo music; on folk lib.net; on Free music downloads of artist direct.com; on amazon; on Redwood Records; on inauthor Google-search; on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search; on Google Group-search; on Google Blog-search.

The beginning of one of her songs:

  • … Started out fine
  • We were movin’ ahead
  • You were drivin’ the truck
  • I was combing the hair
  • On the head of the one in the middle
  • She was lovin’ it all
  • Bouncin’ round like a rubber ball

… (Find the rest on noone watching – scroll much down).

(1000peacewomen): For more than 30 years, Holly Near has used her music to inspire social change. She has sung on picket lines, in prisons, and at Carnegie Hall. She has worked with the United Farm Workers, Central and Latin American solidarity groups, labor unions, women’s groups, antiracist organizations, gay and lesbian rights organizations, disability rights educators, and environmental groups. She was one of the first artists to use her political beliefs to form her own record company, and her independence has cost her access to the mass media. Instead, she inspires change community by community.For more than 30 years, Holly Near has used her music to inspire social change.

She has sung on picket lines, in prisons, and at Carnegie Hall. She has worked with the United Farm Workers, Central and Latin American solidarity groups, labor unions, women’s groups, anti-racist organizations, gay and lesbian rights organizations, disability rights educators, and environmental groups. She was one of the first artists to use her political beliefs to form her own record company, and her independence has cost her access to the mass media. Instead, she inspires change community by community.

Using music for change is no safer than other methods of social activism. During the Viet Nam War era, Holly’s concerts were interrupted so often by bomb threats that she began to understand them for what they were: a right-wing tactic to stop war protests. When officials ordered musicians and audiences out of buildings, Holly stayed. Over the years, the scene would be repeated in different ways and in different places. In El Salvador, Holly was part of a music festival devoted to opposing death squads. When soldiers pointed machine guns at the artists and told them that they could not perform, Holly stayed. And she sang.

Born in rural California, Holly has been singing since she was a small child. In the late-1960s she was drawn into the anti-war movement and began to use her voice to inspire social change. She started working professionally in 1971. Her first international work was with the Free The Army group, entertaining and supporting soldiers who were resisting war and racism from within the military.

In the early-1970s when Near tried to get a record contract, she was encouraged to change her lyrics. Rather than do so, she became one of the first artists to use her political beliefs to start her own record company, which she named Redwood Records. Near used her company to produce other cultural artists. She coordinated the first Sweet Honey in the Rock tour in California and recorded their first album on her label. She also brought to the US many international artists who sang in support of solidarity, including Inti Illimani, the acclaimed Chilean ensemble.

Her songs are anthems of hope and critical thinking, calling on the audience to rise up to their best selves. She was one of the first artists to include an American Sign Language interpreter at her concerts, and her inclusion transformed hundreds of people into advocates for disability rights and services.

The phenomenon of the “cultural worker” can be linked directly to Holly’s pioneering work. Her music chronicles social change in the United States. Many activists will say that they “grew up” with her music and that she is always by their sides, taking the next step towards improving their work as activists.

A song from “We are Singing for our Lives”, by Holly Near:

  • We are a gentle angry people
  • And we are singing, singing for our lives
  • We are a land of many colors
  • We are gay and straight together
  • We are a peaceful loving people
  • And we are singing, singing for our lives.

(1000peacewomen).

links:

the blog: Echoes in the wind;

the blog: META WATERSHED;

music in the UU tradition;

the internet movie database;

American anti-Vietnam War activists;

American female singers;

American pacifists;

American folk singers;

People associated with the hippie movement;

Near, Holly, Papers, 1967-1994: A Finding Aid.

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