Monthly Archives: February 2014

Claiming our voices, as individuals, as a nation

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Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love. — Rumi

Claiming Her Voice Again

IMG_4677Last week I was thrilled to rediscover Elizabeth Cotten, a woman who wrote her signature song at age 11, taught herself to play the banjo and guitar left-handed, and then put down her instrument for decades…until she became a part of the Seeger Family, and was inspired by their music. She took up her instrument, and her voice, once again, and began a new career.

I heard her singing Freight Train 20 years ago on a radio station and instantly loved it.  This past weekend, while I was playing in a bluegrass jam in New York City with my sister, someone played it again, and I was inspired.  When I got home, I learned how to play it on my ukulele!

Here’s to women that claim their voice and their talent, even if it takes a lifetime.

Watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43-UUeCa6Jw

Journal Prompt: Martin Luther King said, “There comes a time when silence becomes a betrayal.” When have you been silent and betrayed yourself or others?  How did you learn to speak — or sing — or play your instrument — again?

“Now You Sing It!” — Pete Seeger

IMG_4647It turns out that Elizabeth Cotten worked for Pete Seeger’s stepmother and father, and was inspired by their music.  As I read the articles about Pete  in The New York Times last week, one headline really caught my attention: Pete Seeger: A Folk Revivalist Who Used His Voice to Bring Out a Nation’s.”

Although Pete was a fabulous musician and enjoyed performing, it seems that what he liked to do best was to not only capture the songs and stories of the past and bring them alive in the present, but also, and most importantly, to teach those songs to others and encourage them to sing.  It was  singing WITH people, not FOR people, that gave him his greatest thrill.  And, he taught us, as a nation, how to stand up to injustice when he sang the songs that helped raise our consciousness about what was wrong, and right, about our country.

Pete’s Local Connection

IMG_4648While Pete’s stepmother was also a musician, it was his mother that apparently first taught him to love and appreciate music.  Pete’s mother actually attended church here in Jacksonville, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Jacksonville, and Pete himself performed there.  He gave the church a signed copy of his autobiography, in honor of his mother, and I saw it after the service last week.  It had an inscription, his signature, and a pen drawing of a banjo.

Journal Prompt: What makes you sing? How can you use music to bring out your own voice? And how can you share your voice with others?

Happy writing, and singing.