In Memoriam: Julius Lester

by Bennett Muraskin   JULIUS LESTER  (January 29, 1939-January 18, 2018) embodied the historic Black-Jewish bond in America, as well as Black-Jewish tensions, in his work as a prolific writer, folk musician, folklorist, and public intellectual — and in the very fabric of his identity. The son of a Black minister, he grew up in the upper South, graduated  […]

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The Folk Music Manager

Harold Leventhal, music manager for The Weavers, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Theodore Bikel, Judy Collins, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Peter, Paul & Mary, Tom Paxton, Arlo Guthrie (shown with Leventhal above), and numerous other folk musicians, was born in Ellenville, New York on this date in 1919. Leventhal joined the American Communist movement as […]

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Nu, Did He Deserve the Nobel Prize?

by Sparrow DOES THE WORLD need another essay about Dylan winning the Nobel Prize? Certainly not. In fact, most people have already forgotten about it. On the other hand, hundreds of thousands of Dylan fans will read this piece -– if they find it –- because they’ll read anything about Dylan. I know because I’m […]

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September 8: Irwin Silber and Sing-Out!

Marxist writer, editor, and mostly pro-communist theoretician Irwin Silber, long-time editor and co-founder (with Pete Seeger, shown with Silber at right) of Sing-Out! magazine, died at 84 on this date in 2010. As founder of Paredon Records (with his wife, folksinger Barbara Dane) and (with Moses Asch) of Oak Publications, as well as through Sing-Out!, […]

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May 31: Pete Yarrow

Folksinger Peter Yarrow, part of the trio of Peter, Paul and Mary, was born in New York on this date in 1938, to Ukrainian Jewish immigrants. He joined the New York City folk revival scene after graduating from Cornell University (as a psych major), and joined up with Mary Travers and Noel Paul Stookey, under […]

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Singing and Listening for Change

Michael Kline and Carrie Nobel Kline Talk Across the Lines by Helen Engelhardt “The recorded voice is an auditory window into the soul. The way we speak is the most integral detail of who we are.” —Michael Nobel Kline FOR MORE than 60 years, Michael Kline has been a documentarian dedicated to recording the songs, […]

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“The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” Revisited

by Sparrow I LEARNED ABOUT BOB DYLAN from my mother. She’d started college at the age of 36 (I was 12), and heard young students playing “With God On Our Side” on guitar. Mom became an instant Dylan fan. Then the revolutionary “Like a Rolling Stone” arrived on Top 40 radio, and I was a […]

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