I am a folk singer by nature, a child of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Joe Hill, and the early Bob Dylan. I believe in inclusion, diversity, social justice and expanding the American Dream to include everyone, in equal amounts. This election year, I felt called to jump into the political fray and throw an old fashioned hootenanny! The powers that be at the Nashville City Winery let me have a night, and with the help of many friends, we pulled together a grass roots fundraiser for The Democratic Party of Tennessee in less than 30 days, raising $6,000 for local elections and re-energizing our local community.
The Mayor of Nashville Megan Berry kicked it off and spoke about our great city. Callie Khouri, the creator of the TV show Nashville, (and Thelma and Louise), spoke about using our voices. We had amazing young speakers, including the transgender teenager Henry Ashton Seaton who single-handedly got the idiotic trans-shaming bathroom law shelved here in Tennessee, and Youth Poet laureate Lagnajita Mukhopadhyay, who Michelle Obama has invited to the White House. Ashley Cleveland, Odessa Settles and all of the musicians made a joyful noise, raising the roof between guest speakers. To close the evening, we all sang Woody Guthrie’s anthem, “This Land Is Your Land.”
“When the sun comes shining, then I was strolling,
With the wheat fields waving, the dust clouds rolling,
The voice come a-chanting, and the fog was lifting.
This land was made for you and me.”
Musicians pictured here: Kenny Greenberg, Band Leader; Mary Gauthier; Webb Wilder, MC; Rebekkah del Rio; Radney Foster; Ashley Cleveland; Tomi Lunsford; Odessa Settles; James House; Warren Denny; Robin Eaton.
Songs matter, as I have said so many times here in this newsletter, and also in my book (I just turned in the first draft to the publisher!). Songs can bring hope, unity and healing. We need all of that here in Tennessee. Artists, like so many others, are sometimes scared to speak up. Musicians have been bullied into silence after the plug was pulled on the Dixie Chicks, and many cower in a fear-based hiding, scared that if we speak up, the plug will be pulled on us too. I see this as not only bad for art, but also bad for our Republic.
If artists are silenced – who will be the truth tellers? Songs help us see that “united” we can accomplish what we could never accomplish individually. This election year, as a group, we managed to pull off one for the ages. Special thanks to everyone who made this evening possible.
Humble and Kind
In what’s shaped up to be the meanest year in politics I have ever witnessed, my friend Lori McKenna won NSAI Song Of The Year with her song Humble and Kind. How’s that for beautiful? Congrats to Lori, and congrats to my friend Beth Nielsen Chapman, who was inducted into the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame! Click HERE to watch: Humble and Kind.
One More Thing:
Please listen to this brand new song by Radney Foster, please. It’s an important song, and captures what is currently happening. Click HERE to watch: All That I Require