"Greensboro, N.C., August 24, 2015 — ArtsGreensboro announced today that it will present a free concert, “Songs of Hope & Justice,” at 7 pm on Thursday, September 10, at The Railyard, 106 South Barnhardt Street in downtown Greensboro. Sponsored by O.Henry and Proximity Hotels, this will be the first event in ArtsGreensboro’s 2015 Fabric of Freedomseries.
Singer/songwriter Laurelyn Dossett of Greensboro will host the free concert, which will feature songs that shine a light on important social issues—past and present. Performances will include songs from the folk canon of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Odetta, and others as well as new and original songs underscoring today’s most pressing social challenges.
Dossett is well known for her own protest songs, including “Vote Against Amendment One” and “My Beloved Enemy,” and others on regional topics such as the Dan River coal ash spill and the loss of textile jobs. She has brought together an outstanding group of performers to celebrate the role of folk songs—specifically protest songs—in America. The performers include:
· Rhiannon Giddens, of the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, regularly performs traditional folk songs. She also writes stunning protest songs focused on current issues, including “Cry No More,” which she wrote and recorded in response to the June 2015 shooting at “Mother Emanuel” AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
· Bhi Bhiman, a topical, talented singer/songwriter who has toured and collaborated with Giddens, has garnered rave reviews from the New York Times, Washington Post, and NPR.
· Alice Gerrard, a force in folk music for over 50 years, has spent her career singing traditional and original songs that tell the stories of everyday people, from coal miners to textile workers. A 2015 Grammy nominee for her latest album, Follow the Music, Alice is the founder of The Old-Time Herald, a publication dedicated to traditional music.
· Molly McGinn, founding member of Amelia's Mechanics, creator of the ground-breaking Postcards from the Swamp, and one of Greensboro’s favorite performers and songwriters, organized the Raise Your Voices campaign to bring out the Vote Against North Carolina’s Amendment One.
· Django Haskins, founding member of Durham-based The Old Ceremony, received a 2015-2016 Artist Fellowship in Songwriting from the North Carolina Arts Council in recognition of “excellence and achievement” in his artform. In 2013, Django wrote, “We Are Not For Sale,” a protest song that he performed at a Moral Monday gathering in Raleigh.
· Preston Lane, Artistic Director of Triad Stage will serve as Master of Ceremonies. Lane and Dossett have written five plays with music, all exploring the region's tradition of folk storytelling and song.
“This special concert is not about ‘showcasing’ artists,” said Dossett. “It’s about a community of artists coming together to shed light on and celebrate the role of songs in our collective social-justice history. There will be a variety of voices and styles, but a commonality of spirit and purpose.”
ArtsGreensboro President and CEO Tom Philion added, “This concert will be a truly historic event. The artists Laurelyn has gathered bring an incredibly deep understanding of the struggles for freedom and equality. ‘Songs of Hope & Justice’ will be a perfect introduction to the Fabric of Freedom themes that we’ll explore throughout the National Folk Festival and 17DAYS.”
Fabric of Freedom programming, funded by an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts with support from the AJ Fletcher Foundation and Lincoln Financial, will run throughout the National Folk Festival and 17DAYS. The Fabric of Freedom showcases Greensboro’s unique history as a haven in the quest for freedom and a catalyst for social change since colonial times. From the pacifist traditions of the city’s 18th-century Quaker founders (who nevertheless took up arms during the American Revolution) and the power of the Underground Railroad, through the birth of the sit-in movement and the Civil Rights era of the 1960s, and continuing into the present with the struggle among recent immigrants for standing and equality, the Fabric of Freedom tells Greensboro’s story.
About Proximity Hotel, 2015 Hospitality Sponsor for the National Folk Festival: New-world moxie meets old-world hospitality at Proximity Hotel. Custom-designed furnishings, commissioned art, and innovative design fill every corner of the AAA Four Diamond Proximity Hotel, which was the first hotel in America to receive LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Enjoy fresh European flavors at Print Works Bistro with creekside dining, modern loft-like guestrooms, a social lobby with 22-foot high windows, the adjacent greenway, and an outdoor pool. proximityhotel.com
About O.Henry Hotel, 2015 Hospitality Sponsor for the National Folk Festival: Let elegance and tranquility restore your spirit at O.Henry Hotel. Reminiscent of the grand hotels of an earlier era, the O.Henry Hotel is conveniently situated adjacent to popular Friendly Center shopping village and just two miles from downtown Greensboro. The social lobby overlooking the Cloister Garden is a lovely setting for afternoon tea, pre-dinner cocktails, or Jazz every Thursday and some Saturdays. Guests enjoy informally elegant dining and seasonal foods showcasing old-world European flavors at the adjacent Green Valley Grill. A AAA Four Diamond hotel, the O.Henry Hotel features original paintings and a complimentary Southern-style breakfast buffet. Enjoy gracious amenities and an attentive staff. ohenryhotel.com
About the 2015 National Folk Festival: Co-produced by the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) and ArtsGreensboro, the National Folk Festival is beginning its three-year residency in downtown Greensboro this year, when it will celebrate its 75th anniversary from September 11 – 13, 2015. The FREE, three-day event is America’s longest-running festival of traditional arts; it will highlight both long-standing traditions and the heritage and culture of North Carolina’s newest immigrant groups, and set the stage for a continuing and permanent North Carolina Folk Festival, beginning in 2018, after the “National” moves on.
Belk is the presenting sponsor of the 2015 Festival. With downtown Greensboro as the backdrop, audiences will enjoy seven stages featuring continuous musical entertainment—from rockabilly to old-time to mariachi, and from funk to Cajun to jazz. Attendees will also be able to dance non-stop to a variety of musical genres at the dance pavilion; dine on regional and ethnic foods; experience folk art demonstrations and performances by N.C. artists; and share the fun of the Family Activities Area with their children. nationalfolkfestival.com
Entering its fifth year, 17DAYS, hosted by ArtsGreensboro, has become the state’s largest collaborative arts and culture festival, featuring more than 100 events, exhibitions, and performances produced by more than 70 organizations, artists, and venues. In 2014, over 100,000 people attended 17DAYS events. With the addition of the 75th National Folk Festival, which runs during 17DAYS’ opening weekend, September 11 through September 13, and is expected to draw up to 100,000 people, 17DAYS is poised to have its biggest year ever. The 2015 festival will take place from September 11 through September 27. 17DAYSGreensboro.org
With an annual budget of approximately $4 million, ArtsGreensboro is a catalyst for innovation to build recognition and support for the arts. Through the 17DAYS Arts & Culture Festival, I HEART ARTS Month, power2give, and other opportunities including the National Folk Festival, ArtsGreensboro is driving the health and vitality of our community by supporting arts education, celebrating the diversity of Greensboro, and driving economic impact through excellence in arts programming. artsgreensboro.org"
- A Press Release