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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gil’s Hootenanny brings folks together to celebrate, share and sing about the stories, struggles and victories of working women and men. When Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) legend Gil Levine died at 85 in 2009, three words in his obituary, “plan a hootenanny”, began an Ottawa tradition that started in 2010 and continues to this day.
The 20 minute video “Voices for Change”, sponsored by Ottawa labour and employment firm Ravenlaw, documents the story of Gil’s Hootenanny and how the event has evolved from an annual May Day event into a catalyst for other contributions to Ottawa’s and Canada’s rich music scene.
A capacity audience sang from start to finish at arguably the best organized and best attended 10th Anniversary Gil’s Hootenanny held May 1st, 2019 at the RA Centre. As people arrived, the Hootenanny Choir (a.k.a. Just Voices Activist Choir) was singing in the foyer. This set the stage for participation in a wide variety of “songs of protest, songs of hope”. While some of the songs were new, most were quite old and had survived many iterations through the “folk process” over decades or even hundreds of years. This review will include some of that musicology. The organizers of Gil’s Hootenanny deserve praise for the breadth and depth of song selection at this anniversary event.
In the hall, while they were finding their seats, a video of past Hoots played on the big screen over the stage with concert clips and interviews of past participants. The choir and video were both very welcoming touches.
The real Hootenanny began with a parade of performers marching down both aisles to the stage singing Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around, a civil rights song adapted from a spiritual first recorded by the Dixie Jubilee Singers in 1924. Resurrected by the Reverend Ralph Abernathy during the summer of 1962 when mass arrests and demonstrations erupted for the second time, he taught it one night to a mass meeting at Mount Zion Baptist Church.
A sold out audience sang and clapped their way through a rollicking 2018 Gil’s Hootenanny at the Clarke Room of the RA Centre on May 1st. Everyone, audience, performers and volunteers had a great time. Here are some highlights:
A Light of A Much Brighter Kind Finale
Solidarity We Bleed
Right Here Finale
We Shall Not Be Moved
See you all next year. Same day. Same time. Same place.