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Labour Day 2021

September 6th marks Labour Day in Canada – a holiday to celebrate the importance of unions and workers’ rights.

This year, Canadians have a deep understanding of the value and importance of the work of front line workers in services such as health care, retail and transportation who help keep us, our families and our communities safe and secure.

Join Gil’s Hootenanny in celebrating Labour Day 2021 by singing along with Steve Richer and Tamara Levine as they perform Woody Guthrie’s “You Gotta Go Down And Join The Union”, an adaptation of the traditional gospel song, “Lonesome Valley”.

Happy Labour Day!

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Gil’s Hootenanny Releases Final List of Musicians Featured in New Video “Singing Together Apart”

For immediate release
(Ottawa, April 26, 2021)

Gil’s Hootenanny has issued the full list of performers featured in the 2021 sing-along video “Singing Together Apart”, to be released on May 1st at 4pm at https://gilshootenanny.ca/.

“Gil’s Hootenanny 2021: Singing Together Apart” is a retrospective of some of the best performances of sing-along songs from past Hootenannies along with some exciting new songs. It showcases a wide range of artists and sing-along songs including Sharon and Bram’s delightful version of “Grandpa’s Farm”; Maria Dunn’s moving song, “God Bless Us Everyone” and Tony Turner’s internationally acclaimed anthem to the power of collective singing, “Circle of Song”. The video begins with a processional entrance led by The Hootenanny Band and ends with a rousing version of “Wade in the Water” led by Ottawa’s own Maria Hawkins.

The artists are:

  • Maria Dunn
  • Mark Evenchick with Just Voices: An Activist Choir and other musical friends
  • Eve Goldberg
  • Christine Graves
  • Maria Hawkins with Greg Szepietowski
  • Arthur McGregor
  • Sharon and Bram
  • Stephen Richer with Tamara Levine
  • Tony Turner with Ann Downey
  • Chris White with Sid Ameen
  • The Gil’s in the School Band
  • The Hootenanny Band

Over its 12-year history, the annual May Day Hootenanny has featured outstanding Canadian musicians leading sold-out audiences in singing songs of hope and protest which celebrate the stories, struggles and victories of working people. This video encourages viewers to sing along with the performers, as if they were attending an in-person Hootenanny.

Gil’s Hootenanny is inspired by the legacy of Gil Levine, who spent his life working for social justice and was the founding Director of Research at the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). A great lover of folk music and an enthusiastic supporter of folk musicians, Gil believed in the power of song to bring people together to speak up and sing out for change.

Singing together has played a key role in helping people face adversity through the centuries. As Martin Luther King said: “As long as we live, there is never enough singing.”

Stay safe and healthy and let’s keep on singing!

Contact:
Kathy Kennedy
kathyltk@gmail.com
613-729-7252 or 613-404-4553 (cell)

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Gil’s Hootenanny Featured on PBS

For immediate release:
(Ottawa, Tuesday, April 13, 2021)

Gil’s Hootenanny to be Featured on New WPBS Current Affairs Program, “WPBS Weekly: Inside the Stories”

Gil’s Hootenanny is proud to announce that it will be a featured story on the new WPBS current affairs program, WPBS Weekly: Inside the Stories, on April 27th.

Premiering today at 7:30 pm, this new half hour show in magazine format will showcase stories from the WPBS broadcast region of Northern New York and Eastern Ontario. It will focus on stories related to education, arts and culture, business, tourism, science & technology, and the environment/outdoors.

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Gil’s Hootenanny to Release Retrospective “Sing-Along” Video on May 1st

For immediate release
(Ottawa, April 8, 2021)

The video “Gil’s Hootenanny 2021: Singing Together Apart”, a retrospective of highlights of past Hootenannies along with some exciting new songs, will be released on May 1st at 4pm at https://gilshootenanny.ca/.

Since the first Gil’s Hootenanny in 2010, this May Day event has featured outstanding Canadian musicians leading sold-out audiences in singing songs of hope and protest which celebrate the stories, struggles and victories of working people. With an introduction by singer-songwriter and Gil’s team member Arthur McGregor, “Gil’s Hootenanny 2021: Singing Together Apart” is a selection of some of the best of these performances from the Gil’s archives. Emphasizing sing-along songs, the video encourages viewers to sing along with the performers, as if they were attending an in-person Hootenanny.

Among the performers featured in the video are Maria Dunn, Tony Turner, Chris White and Eve Goldberg. Other musicians will be announced next week.

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Gil & Helen Levines’ Legacy

Changing the World Through the Power of Song

When Gil Levine died at 85 in 2009, three words in his obituary, “… plan a hootenanny”, were the beginning of Gil’s Hootenanny, an Ottawa tradition now into its milestone 10th year and getting stronger.

Helen and Gil Levine

Held each year on May Day, this annual celebration of the collective power of song to change the world was inspired by Gil, the founding Director of Research at the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), a great lover of folk music and a staunch supporter of folk musicians. Helen Levine, who died at 95 in October 2018, also considered herself an “old folkie”. Helen and Gil showed their love of folk music in many ways, including hosting annual hootenannies and May Day celebrations at their home for decades.

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Be Sure to Catch ‘WPBS Weekly: Inside the Stories’ tonight at 7:30 pm

Gil’s Hootenanny will be a feature story on the new WPBS current affairs program, ‘WPBS Weekly: Inside the Stories’, tonight (Tuesday, April 27th) at 7:30 pm. A 5-minute segment features Tamara Levine sharing the history of Gil’s Hootenanny and plans for the 2021 event. She also talks about her father, the inspiration for this annual May Day sing along. The PBS story will include footage from past Hootenannies.

WPBS Weekly: Inside the Stories can be viewed on Channel 97 on Rogers Cable and Channel 64 with a Rogers Digital Cable Box. If you are watching from outside Ottawa, please consult https://www.wpbstv.org/channel-listing/ for the channel in your area.

Ten Songs That Made a Difference

With permission of author Stephen Richer and The Society for the Preservation of Wild Culture. Source: Ten Songs That Made a Difference | The Journal of Wild Culture

What kinds of songs inspire people to change their minds about something, then go about changing the world? What makes a particular song an anthem? Having thought about these questions since he learned the banjo as a teenager in the 1950s, sociologist Stephen Richer provides some answers — with illustrations of how a few powerful songs made personal and collective change hard to resist.

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In Memory of Bob Nesbitt

Gil’s Hootenanny joins with Ottawa’s folk community in commemorating the legacy of Bob Nesbit, long-time folk music aficionados and volunteer, and founder of the Ottawa Grassroots Festival. Bob was an active member of the Gil’s Hootenanny team for several years, and he enthusiastically supported the Hootenanny’s ongoing participation at the Grassroots Festival.

Here is a link to the Ottawa Citizen obituary for Bob who died peacefully at home on February 27th.

Bob Nesbitt
Bob Nesbitt

Feature Article in “Our Times” Magazine

The Power of Song

Gil’s Hootenanny

By Kathy Kennedy   April 10, 2019

PHOTOGRAPH: JAKE MORRISON, WITH FLARE PHOTOGRAPHY

The finale at Gil’s Hootenanny is always the highlight of a joyous evening. On May 1, 2018, the rafters of Ottawa’s Clark Hall rang with the sounds of over 300 voices singing “We Shall Not Be Moved,” the African-American spiritual turned labour anthem. The hootenanny brings people together to sing songs of protest and hope, belting out their belief in the power of collective singing for change. Buzzing with optimism, the audience left for home that night singing and carrying a message of inspiration to the streets and neighbourhoods of the city.

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