Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Step Back in Time

Peter, Paul and Mary were an American folk-singing trio whose nearly 50-year career began with their rise to become a paradigm for 1960s folk music. The trio was composed of folk song writer Peter Yarrow, (Noel)Paul Stookey and Mary Travers.

They were signed to Warner Bros.and their first, self-titled LP was released in March of 1962. It was accompanied by a single, Lemon Tree, that rose to number 35 on the charts late that spring. This was a good beginning, but it was their second single, If I Had a Hammer, that marked their breakthrough. As topical songs go, its timing was perfect as in the late 1962, the civil rights movement was becoming a concern to a growing number of middle-class onlookers; If I Had a Hammer embodied this zeitgeist in its most idealistic form and, with its upbeat, soulful performance. The single hit number ten on the charts. It also won the trio their first two Grammy Awards, for Best Performance by a Vocal Group and Best Folk Recording. In their first six months of existence, Peter, Paul and Mary brought political concerns to the public through song. Their music had a decidedly serious edge, but it was to fun to listen to.

Yarrow, Stookey and Travers spent their years together as a group communicating personal, political and social imperatives by way of their chosen songs, personally crafted harmonies and unmitigated passion. Peter, Paul and Mary appeared on stage with Martin Luther King at the historic March on Washington - where they sang Blowin' in the Wind, establishing it as a Civil Rights anthem. Peter, of course, wrote many of the group's best known songs, including Puff, Day is Done, The Great Mandala  and one of my favorites, Light One Candle.

Mary Travers died in 2009 The cause was complications from chemotherapy associated with a bone-marrow transplant she had several years ago after developing leukemia, After more than 50 years, Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey and in the spirit of Mary continue to perform and advocate for social justice together and solo. 
Friday October 2, they took center stage at St Joan of Arc Church in Minneapolis, MN 
What a pleasure and privilege to hear their music.  
The musical benefit was for Operation Respect. This non-profit education and advocacy organization is dedicated to transform schools, camps and other youth-serving organizations into safer, more respectful, bully-free environments for children and youth. It was founded in 1999 by Peter Yarrow and Dr. Charlotte Frank, Senior Advisor at McGraw-Hill Education. 
Operation Respect disseminates its own classroom based curriculum, the "Don't Laugh at Me," Program, free of charge to thousands of schools in the United States and internationally. Operation Respect's inspiring music, social-emotional learning curricula, multi-cultural videos and highly-regarded professional training provide adults with the tools they need to help children express their feelings constructively, resolve conflict peacefully, celebrate diversity, and engage with each other in a spirit of caring, compassion and cooperation. 
Yarrow hopes that this organization will educate a new generation on the importance of singing together to create the sense of community necessary for social change.

The concert featured the music of their 50 years together as a group. Song favorites If I Had A Hammer, Blowing in the Wind, Puff the Magic Dragon and Light A Candle brought the sold out crowd to their feet with a standing ovation. It was an amazing evening as some 50 years flashed before my eyes reminiscing over their music.  
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1 comment:

  1. What a great opportunity for you. And what a great cause.