The songs that emerged from the period of slavery in America had an enormous influence in shaping today’s blues, jazz, rap and much other popular music. In the first of this two-part essay, sociologist of music Stephen Richer looks at the codes embedded into spirituals that served slaves as a covert language for their activism — and getting them on the Underground Railroad.
We invite you to join Maria Dunn in singing “God Bless Us Everyone”, a song that she sang with us at the Gil’s Hootenanny 10th Anniversary sing-along in 2019.
Written from the perspective of Tiny Tim Cratchit in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, Maria performed the song every holiday season for 20 years in Edmonton’s annual production of The Christmas Carol Project.
We wish everyone a 2022 rich with “kindness overwhelming as a gentle hand to hold”.
“Down by the Riverside” is an African-American spiritual and anti-war song that pre-dates the American Civil War. The sentiments in the song’s chorus originate with a Biblical verse from the Book of Isaiah: “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
This Remembrance Day, join the Gil’s Hootenanny Band in singing “Down By the Riverside” at St. Peter’s High School in Orleans, Ontario as we pause to recognize the courage and sacrifice of those who served in Canada and abroad in working for peace.
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!
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.
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!
613-729-7252 or 613-404-4553 (cell)
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.Continue reading…
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.Continue reading…
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.Continue reading…