Phil Ochs Song Night hosted by Sonny Ochs w/ Magpie, Rolly Brown, Josh White Jr. & Sharon Katz.

The Kent Stage welcomes

Phil Ochs Song Night hosted by Sonny Ochs w/ Magpie, Rolly Brown, Josh White Jr. & Sharon Katz.

Sun, May 4, 2014

Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 7:00 pm

$10.00 - $20.00

This event is all ages

Phil Ochs Song Night
Phil Ochs Song Night
May 4th
hosted by Sonny Ochs
Rolly Brown
Sharon Katz
Magpie - Terry Leonino & Greg Artzner
and Josh White, Jr.

History of Phil Ochs Song Nights

On April 9, 1976 my brother, Phil Ochs, ended his life by hanging himself. He was 35 years old. He had written over 100 songs, and had traveled to many countries. He suffered from manic-depression and had been experiencing a long term writer's block. Many of his songs had been recorded by artists such as John Denver, Gordon Lightfoot, Ronnie Gilbert, Joan Baez, Judy Collins and Pete Seeger.

Six years after Phil's death, Ned Traynor who was then active with the musicians' cooperative which was producing concerts at the Speakeasy on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village, suggested that they do a Phil Ochs Song Night. I said that I thought it was a great idea. From time to time I would call up and suggest the name of a performer I would like to see in the program. Everyone I suggested was accepted. After a while, I realized that nobody was really in charge.

Anyhow, I was at that first show and emceed a good portion of it. It was in October of '83, but I don't recall the exact date. It was quite disorganized with far too many performers. I left at about midnight, and there were still many others waiting to perform. Most of the performers were members of the Hudson River Sloop Singers who are affiliated with the Clearwater.

The following year we did another Song Night at the Speakeasy on Oct. 6 which I organized and emceed. Once again, most of the performers were members of the Sloop Singers Other performers included Sammy Walker, Tom Intondi, David Massengill, Rod MacDonald, Oscar Brand and The Washington Squares.

By 1984 I decided to more the show to Folk City which was better known and where I had been working the open mike on Monday evenings. We continued with most of the same performers, but that was a very special year because Magpie joined the show, and they have been in every single Song Night since then.

Our second show at Folk City the following year was really memorable. We had quite a who's who of performers that night including Suzanne Vega, Melanie, Tom Paxton, Fred Small, Happy Traum, Eric Andersen, Christine Lavin, Frank Christian, Dave Van Ronk and Magpie. The place was wall-to-wall people.

By December of '86 Folk City had closed down. Realizing that the Song Night had become quite popular, I decided to move it to a larger venue. For that year and next we were at the Bottom Line which seats about 400 people. We sold the place out two years in a row. (Not surprising considering the quality of the performers we were featuring - John Gorka, Aztec Two-Step, Ronnie Gilbert, David Massengill, Alix Dobkin, Sammy Walker, Buskin & Batteau, Fred Small, Rod MacDonald, Magpie, Kim & Reggie Harris, and Christine Lavin, among others)

I had moved up to the Albany area in '86, so I decided to move the Song Night upstate so as not to have to travel to the city anymore. In 1987 the Song Night was held for the first time at the Eighth Step Coffeehouse on Nov. 6th, and it was held there every year until 1999 except once when there was a date mix-up, and it had to be held elsewhere in the Capitol District. That same year we did a Song Night in Philadelphia.

Up to this point all the Song Nights had the same formula. Each performer would sing one or two of Phil's songs, depending on how many they knew, and that was it. The philosophy behind Song Night was to keep Phil's music alive, to give all the monies collected to organizations in the folk field who were struggling financially, and to showcase performers. Money was given to groups like People's Music Network, Broadside Magazine, Sing Out Magazine, New Song Library, various non-profit folk clubs and college radio stations. I would appeal to the audience to go out and see the performers when they were in town doing their own material. I found it frustrating that people would pay money to hear Phil's songs, but not the songs of the performers. Sammy Walker said, "Phil Ochs draws a larger audience dead than we do alive."

A side benefit of the creation of the Song Night was that several performers liked the songs that I asked them to sing so much that they included them in their repertoires and sang them all around the country. The ultimate thrill was when Kim and Reggie Harris not only recorded "In the Heat of the Summer", they also made it the title song of their first cd.

After several years of only doing Phil's songs at the Song Nights I started to get bored hearing the same songs over and over by basically the same performers. We were playing in different venues including Washington DC and Cambridge, Massachusetts by this time so the audiences were different, but I needed a change. I decided to change to format so that each performer would do one of Phil's songs and one of his/her own, thus giving the audience a taste of what is being written today. As of now, this is still the formula we're using. I much prefer it, but some of the performers think we should only do Phil's songs, and that's what some of them do.

Another minor change was added when we did a show at the Village Gate in Manhattan in November of '93. There was a biography of Phil by Michael Schumacher being written at that time. He let us have some of his transcripts from several interviews. We had two excerpts read which described some of Phil's adventures in Africa and South America. They were quite humorous and added a new dimension to the Song Night. We have included this practice in several Song Nights since then.

So the Song Nights continue. Many performers have taken part in them, and many more will be invited in the future. Some of the regulars include Emma's Revolution (Pat Humphries & Sandy Apatow) , John Flynn, David Roth, Greg Greenway, Kim & Reggie Harris and Magpie. In 1994 we made our first foray into Canada, doing a show in Toronto, in 1996 we did a min-tour covering 8 cities in the mid west, and in 1999 we went to 7 cities in the mid west including a major tribute to Phil at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. We also did 2 nights at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage.

We toured the northwest in 2004, starting in Vancouver with shows in Washington and Oregon, ending up in California - San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Berkeley. It's really exciting to be a part of a constantly evolving show with the main purpose of keeping Phil Ochs' music out there.
Magpie - Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino a brief biography

Terry Leonino and Greg Artzner began to play music together in Kent, Ohio in September of 1973. They chose the name Magpie for their band, a name which grew in personal significance for them as years went by. Terry was a student in her senior year at Kent State University in the fall of '73, and when she graduated the following spring, she and Greg packed Greg's VW bus and moved to the Washington, DC area. In the years since then, they have traveled and toured extensively, performed in concerts, at folk clubs and festivals around the world, and recorded many times.

Terry's voice is a truly impressive instrument, not only because of its natural power, but also because of her versatility. She is a gifted singer of jazz and blues in the tradition of Connie Boswell and Billie Holiday, but is equally comfortable with the subtle beauty of traditional folk and contemporary songs. Add to this her uncanny ability to find the perfect harmony line, and, in a powerful blend of their two voices, you have a real treat for the ear. As if this weren't enough, Terry is also an excellent player of the harmonica, mandolin, fretted dulcimer, and rhythm guitar.

Greg is an outstanding guitarist whose fingerstyle approach owes a lot to his heroes, guitar legends such as Reverend Gary Davis, Big Bill Broonzy, Nick Lucas, Phil Ochs, and Rolly Brown. His playing is the solid basis of Magpie's sound, providing whatever is called for, whether it be a hard-driving rhythm, or a ringing lyrical beauty. From a slow Scots air or a plaintive ballad to a rollicking ragtime blues or infectious swing, Greg covers it all. His high baritone voice has equal range and his captivating interpretation gives power and beauty to the full spectrum, from growling blues, to a Chilean lament, to a sweet croon.

From the beginning Terry and Greg's interests in various musical styles have led them to be eclectic in their repertoire. Rather than confine themselves to a single style, Magpie has always embraced a musical rainbow, and with impressive proficiency in each different genre. From traditional, classic country, swing, and blues of the nineteen twenties and thirties, to contemporary songs written by themselves and others, Terry and Greg cover a lot of musical ground.

With the power of their delivery, Magpie is well known for their performances of hard-hitting topical songs. They are well-known as regular performers on Phil Ochs Song Nights, organized by Phil's sister, Sonny Ochs, since 1984. Politically, their viewpoint has been shaped by their life experiences. Greg began to play music in the early sixties as a direct result of the Civil Rights Movement. His father worked for the National Urban League, and members of the family became involved in local action in the Movement. Terry also began singing at that time, and spent many of her childhood summers with her mother's family in the deep south where she witnessed the cruelty of racism and the power of the Movement. She also was a witness to the shootings at Kent State on May 4th, 1970 when National Guard troops fired into a group of students protesting the war in Vietnam. Terry and Greg continue to reflect these experiences in their own work as they frequently raise their voices in support of the ongoing struggles for civil rights, freedom, justice, and peace.

Over the years, Terry and Greg have become distinguished for producing programs of music for museums (including the Smithsonian Institution), schools, and other special events. They are master artists with the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, and in that capacity have worked in many residency programs and teacher training workshops, demonstrating their methods for utilizing music effectively as a tool for early childhood education. Terry and Greg have many years of experience working in schools, performing for children and families. They have developed several special school programs for students of all ages including two on the environment and others on historical themes such as the Great Depression and the nineteen sixties.

Terry and Greg are internationally known for their musical work in the environmental movement. Throughout their career, they have devoted a tremendous amount of their time, energy, and music to environmental causes. They are considered to be among the very best in this field of music and their performances are in great demand by environmental action and education organizations. Their musical work has supported the work of such notable groups as National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, the National Wildlife Refuge System, the National Park Service, and Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. Earth Day 1998 found them performing at Harpers Ferry National Park where their well-known anthem, "We Belong to the Earth" was a perfect finale to a speech by President Clinton. They have been featured presenters for statewide environmental education associations around the country.

In 2000, Magpie collaborated with scientists at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and created a "museum musical," the first of its kind, utilizing a museum display as the set for the show. The show, Tales of the Blue Crab, premiered at Smithsonian's Discovery Theatre and ran for the month of April. It's full of rollicking, good-fun songs all teaching about the life cycle of the Chesapeake Bay's most famous resident, callinectes sapidus, the blue crab.

In the fall of 1998, in a fitting tribute to Magpie on the occasion of their 25th anniversary, members of the Washington Area Music Association awarded Greg and Terry the "Wammie" award as traditional folk duo of the year. They also received the 1999 Addy Award for their song "Take Me Back to Harpers Ferry" and their soundtrack for the video by the same title, continuously shown at the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park's Visitor Center.

Terry and Greg have been heard on many recordings, including 8 of their own, 2 with Kim & Reggie Harris, and several compilations. Their first, Magpie & Friends, and their third, If It Ain't Love, showcase their broad range of styles and themes. Their second album, Working My Life Away, is an excellent collection of songs about working people and their work. Their fourth and fifth albums, Living Planet and Circle of Life are both theme albums on the subject of the Earth. Circle of Life is Magpie's first album for children and has been greeted with great acclaim by children, parents, and educators, and such environmental notables as the National Audubon Society. A portion of the proceeds from both of these albums is donated to environmental action groups. The Smithsonian, when it released its monumental collection, Folk Song America: A Twentieth Century Revival in 1991, included Magpie's rendition of "Sacco's Letter to His Son" from If It Ain't Love among selections by 99 of the most eminent folk music artists of our time. Terry and Greg's sixth album, Seed on the Prairie, is a showcase for their songwriting. It is full of songs which tell stories of love, loss, and rebirth, and songs of Mother Earth.

In 1994, the Cultural Center for Social Change produced a 2 CD set of songs of the Civil Rights movement to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project entitled Freedom is a Constant Struggle, and Magpie was honored with an invitation to participate, contributing 3 selections, two recorded with their very close friends, Kim & Reggie Harris. Through CCSC, Terry and Greg have performed in concert with SNCC Freedom Singers Matthew and Marshall Jones and Emory Harris and with Wazir Peacock, SNCC song leader, singing with them, and on their own, songs of the Civil Rights Movement and other songs of struggle. The concerts have taken place in various venues including the Kennedy Center, and two of them have been recorded and released on CDs entitled The Long Walk to Freedom and Songs of Dissent Live.

This was followed by a collaboration with Kim & Reggie Harris entitled Spoken in Love, recorded in concert in early 1995. Their quartet appearances with Kim & Reggie have been received with standing ovations from audiences around the country, including Bethlehem Musikfest and the Philadelphia Folk Festival. The quartet was invited to appear on National Public Radio's All Things Considered in an interview with Daniel Zwerdling to talk about their work together and the uplifting and powerful effect their music has on audiences. The quartet then recorded and released a studio recording, entitled Guide My Feet, on Appleseed Records, featuring guest appearances by such luminaries as Pete Seeger, Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, and Keter Betts.

In the spring of 1999, Magpie's 9th recording, a celebration of their 25th anniversary entitled Give Light was released on Sliced Bread Records. The CD features songs old and new, written by friends and heroes and by Magpie themselves. There are love songs, songs of struggle, songs of the Earth, and songs of the spiritual journey.

Magpie's most recent recording is entitled Sword of the Spirit and features 11 songs including 7 originals, all about famed abolitionist John Brown, his family, friends, and associates. The CD, also on Sliced Bread, was produced as a companion piece to Greg and Terry's one-act play of the same title based on the life and letters of Brown and his wife Mary. The premier performance of play, featuring Greg as Brown and Terry in the role of Mary Brown, took place February 18, 19, and 20, 2000 at the Old Opera House in Charles Town, West Virginia, across the street from the old courthouse where John Brown was tried and convicted in 1859.
Rolly Brown
Rolly Brown
With 47 years of experience on the acoustic guitar, Rolly has been a National Fingerpicking Champion and a Philadelphia Music Award nominee. He has performed at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the Tasmanian Folk Festival, and tons of places in between. He hosted the Guitar Wizards radio show which ran on public radio in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Maine for several years, introducing listeners to guitarists and techniques usually searched out only by total guitar maniacs. He has served as a sideman for Magpie, Winnie Winston, Saul Broudy, Jack McGann, Priscilla Herdman, Jay Ansill, and many others, and has performed extensively with National Flatpicking Champion Mark Cosgrove, and, until her tragic death, with the late fiddler and singer extraordinaire Freyda Epstein. For the past decade, Rolly has been a popular teacher and performer at a number of guitar camps, appearing at Steve Kaufman's Acoustic Kamps (Maryville TN), the Swannanoa Gathering (Asheville NC), Summer Acoustic Music Week in New Hampshire, the convention of the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society in Nashville TN, and others. His Youtube videos (instructional and performance) have garnered well over 100,000 hits. For more info, link to the Rolly Brown Guitar Page.
Josh White Jr.
Josh White Jr.
Josh White, Jr., became, a 'hit' literally over night at the age of four, by
performing with his legendary father JOSH WHITE one night at New York's famed "Café Society" night club (America's first integrated nightclub). For the next five years, Josh, Jr. performed with his father from New York to Boston to Philadelphia. In 1949, Josh, Jr. landed his first role on Broadway, and as Josh says, "It was type casting..." he played his father's son in How Long Til Summer? with Dorothy Gish and Don Hanmer. While continuing a solo acting career, Josh went on to perform and record with his father for the next seventeen years on radio, television, Broadway, concert halls and nightclubs around the world.
Josh attended New York's famed Professional Children's School, along with Elliott Gould, Sandra Dee, Brandan de Wilde, Leslie Uggams, Christopher Walken, and, among others, Marvin Hamlisch, who co-wrote Josh's first solo recording for Decca in 1956, "See Saw".

Between the years 1949 and 1960 Josh was in five Broadway plays and one off-Broadway play: "How Long Til Summer," in which he was honored with a Special TONY AWARD as "Best Child Actor" of the year in 1949; "The Man," with Josh White, Sr. (1950); "Touchstone" (1955); "Take A Giant Step" (1957) (the popular, long-running Off-Broadway play, in which he was the third person to take over the starring role, following Billy Gunn and Josh's friend Lou Gossett); "Only In America" (1959) starring Nehemiah Persoff; and "The Long Dream," (1959) book by Richard Wright, directed by Lloyd Richards, whose cast included Al Freeman, Jr. and newcomer Clarence Williams III. Some
other actors he shared the stage with in these plays were Arthur O'Connell, Godfrey Cambridge, Patty McCormick, Beah Richards.
By 1961 Josh had already Guest Starred in more than 50 American Television Dramas, and costarred with his father in Great Britain for North Grenada television in "The Josh White Show." However, as he was approaching his 21st birthday, the number of acting jobs available on Broadway, TV and film for young Black actors was limited, while musically, the Folk Revival in America was beginning to take storm and offer more lucrative opportunities.

Accordingly, Josh decided to focus on his career as a singer/guitarist, put his acting career on hold, and branch out from his long association with his father, to go on the road alone to pursue his solo concert and recording career.

After the 1956 Decca Records release of "See Saw", and after more recordings with his father (such as "Josh White at Town Hall" 1960), Josh, Jr.'s solo recording career continued with "Do You Close Your Eyes" - Mercury 1962, (which is a "golden oldie" in the Pittsburgh area to this day); "Good & Drunk & Goozey" (with sister, Beverly White) - Sonnet 1963; "I'm On My Own Way" - Mercury 1964; "The Josh White, Jr. Album" - United Artists 1967; "One Step Further" - United Artists 1968; Spoken Arts multi-media production, "The Dream Awake" with James Earl Jones, Josh White, Jr. and Josephine Premice, an educational aid complete with film strips, teacher guide and
seven long-playing recordings containing performances by the cast, with an original text by Owen Dodson; "Josh White, Jr." Vanguard 1978; "Sing A Rainbow" - Mt. Railroad 1979, "Josh White, Jr. Sings Traditional Folk Songs" - National Archives 1980; the 1980 recordings of "The Strangest Dream" and "The King's Highway" (official Theme Song recordings for the "Peace Corps" and "VISTA" - both composed by his old friend Ed McCurdy); "May The Brush Be With You" (with Jimmy Carter, Frank Sinatra, Muhammad Ali & Lily Tomlin) - Cornucopia 1981; "Delia's Gone" - FFMM 1983; "Almost Alone" - Eagle 1984;
"Jazz Ballads & Blues" (GRAMMY nominated instrumental jazz album tribute to his father) - RYKODISK 1986; "Live at the Soft Rock Café" - RTG/Oceansong 1990; "My Favorite Toy" (children's album) - Coden/White Records 1994; plus numerous appearances on festival, compilation and tribute albums; the recent "House of The Rising Son" (Silverwolf 1999) "Cortelia Clark" (Silverwolf 2001) and "Josh White, Jr. - LIVE" (Silverwolf, 2003)

After appearing on countless television variety and talk shows around the world as a solo artist, including such American shows as "Today," "Merv Griffin," "Steve Allen," "Joey Bishop," " Mike Wallace," "Mike Douglas," "Della Reese," "Gary Moore," "Arthur Godfrey," "Kate Smith," "Donald O'Connor," and "Hootenany," Josh, Jr. starred in his first PBS/TV Concert Special in 1979 "Ramblin" with Josh White, Jr.", and costarred (with Odetta, Tom Paxton, and Bob Gibson) in the 1980 "Soundstage - Just Folks" Concert TV Special, followed by two more PBS/TV Specials: "The Making of JOSH: The Man & His Music" 1984, and "Josh and Ron's Family Adventure", 1993, with Ron Coden. Josh Jr.'s composition "Say A Prayer For A Stranger" was performed by Harry Belafonte on the ABC-TV prime-time Special, "100 Years at The Music Hall."

As a concert artist, Josh, Jr. has performed on the world's greatest stages of four continents, including Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Odeon Hammersmith Hall, Berlin Philharmonic Hall, and Madison Square Garden to name a few.

From 1963 through the 80s, Josh headlined more than 2000 college concerts. At the peak of this folk boom, in the mid 60s through the late 70s, Josh was considered one of NACA's most celebrated and honored performing artist. C. Shaw Smith, from Davidson College, North Carolina, penned him the 'Dean of College Concert Attractions'.
Josh returned to the theatrical stage in 1983, in his first musical - a
musical revue - "One for Me, One for You". An original regional theater
production, with all of the songs written by his good friend Mayon Weeks who was also one of the performers. In 1983, he premiered the musical dramatic biography of his father Josh White, Sr., entitled "JOSH: The Man & His Music" (written and directed by Broadway veteran Peter Link) to 'rave reviews' at the Center for the Arts, Boarshead Theater, in Lansing, Michigan, for a five-week, sold out, limited-run engagement. Every few years Josh, Jr. reprises the play on the road with great success and is proud to maintain the image, story and songs that his father gave us all. Josh also sang "The John Henry Suite", as Guest Star with the "Dance Theatre of Harlem" in a limited tour which took him from New York to San Francisco with one of the stops at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Josh, Jr.'s marriage in 1963 to Jackie Harris produced two children - Joshua 'Buddah' White III, an actor/playwright born in 1963, and Jason, born in 1969. In November, 1971, following the death of his wife and just two years after the death of his father, Josh, Jr. left New York City, and moved to upstate New York with his two sons and slowed down his touring. During that time, he established an artist-in-residence program at many college campuses
he performed at during the regular school year so he, his sons and their
Malamute, Robin, could spend their summers together. Josh White, Jr. moved to Detroit in 1976 and married Sara in 1978. Sara brought four children to the marriage and Josh brought two. Their children, now all adults, have blessed Josh and Sara with 13 grandchildren.
Josh White, Jr. received Honorary Doctorate Degrees from the University of Maine, and the University of West Florida; was named the "Voice of The Peace Corps" and "Voice of VISTA" by the US Government in 1980; in 1982, he shared the stage with his mother at the Smithsonian Institution's 100th Birthday Celebration of Franklin Roosevelt. In 1983, he was presented with "Keys to
the City" by Detroit and Lansing, Michigan, and on April 20, 1983, the State of Michigan honored he and his father with "JOSH WHITE and JOSH WHITE, JR. DAY"; in 1984, he was named "Michigan Man of The Year;" in 1984, NACA (National Association of Campus Activities) honored Josh with its first "Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award" at Opryland in Nashville; in 1987, he was honored to be named the Host and Emcee for the final two legs of festivities for Pope John Paul II's grand tour of America. In earlier years, he also appeared with his father at President Johnson's Inauguration and at a Command Performance for the Prime Minister of Canada. In July, 1997, Josh was the Special Guest Star Performer at the National Community Service Conference's Annual Banquet in New York honoring cofounder of the Peace Corps, Harris Wolford, with its Lifetime Achievement Award; Josh performed
"Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream", the Peace Corps Theme Song he had recorded for Mr. Wolford and Sargent Shriver years earlier.
In recent years, Josh, Jr. has added to his multi-dimensional talents and
touring schedule, by becoming a "single-digit" (as he calls it) performer,
doing children and family concerts, including school concerts for grades
K-4. And with the release of the U.S. Postal Service's stamp honoring his father (and Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie and Sonny Terry) he does a
music/lecture session on his father, Josh, Sr. for grades 5 through 12. He provides an extraordinary, interactive experience for young people.

Read comments from some of the schools.
] He has appeared many times on the Nickelodeon Network and he along with his good friend, Ron Coden, hosted their own PBS special, "Josh and Ron's Family Adventure." In 1991, Josh teamed up with the founder of "StoryLiving," Rändi Douglas, to create a highly successful outreach alternative educational program now called "Living History." The program's purpose is to teach history and social studies using multiple interactive intelligence systems, and as Josh says, "It is where you become the people you are learning about and then when you become emotionally involved, you never forget." And all this happens in the classroom with music, imagination and role-playing. Sessions are held in schools, universities, churches, temples, community centers and
at seminars.
Sharon Katz
Sharon Katz
Sharon Katz was born in Port Elizabeth, now known as Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa. As a young teenager during the terrible apartheid era, she used to sneak out to the "Blacks Only" townships by hiding under blankets in the back seat of her friend's car. There, she met with the now-famous actors in Athol Fugard's group, John Kani and Winston Ntshona, and began her lifelong mission of using music to help break down the country's artificially-imposed racial barriers.

This year, we're celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Peace Train's original ride through South Africa to help Nelson Mandela break down the barriers that apartheid had created and to usher in the country's 1st democratic election.

"When Voices Meet" is the film being made to tell the story of The Peace Train and the impact it has made in the lives of the participants and the country in the 20 years since liberation. Watch for it later this year.

The legendary Abigail Kubeka, of Miriam Makeba's group The Skylarks, recorded with Sharon on her latest CD and toured America to share the songs and stories of the anti-apartheid struggle.

Lee-sa Dawn Robinson, drums; Wendy Quick, vocals & dance; Abigail Kubeka, vocals;
Monnette Sudler, bass; Sharon Katz, guitar & vocals

Back in 1992, Sharon made history in her home country of South Africa when she formed the country's first-ever, 500-member multi-cultural and multi-lingual performing group and staged the production called "When Voices Meet."

Then in 1993, Sharon rocked the nation with her concert tour, "The Peace Train." She took 150 performers, including her friends Ladysmith Black Mambazo, on tour by train, giving concerts at every stop along their route. As the performers played, sang and danced to promote a peaceful transition to democracy in South Africa, TV and radio crews rode on board The Peace Train and broadcasted all the events to the nation. "When Voices Meet" had been so successful and so widely publicized that invitations began pouring in from all over the country. To respond to all the requests, Sharon got sponsors to hire a train - The Peace Train - and took 150 of the performers as well as TV and radio crews on tour throughout the country. At each stop along the route, they performed their concert and encouraged people of all races, cultures, ages and political affiliations to put down their guns and hostilities and to prepare for the country's transition to a peaceful democracy. The performing group became known as "The Peace Train" forever more, and all the world watched as Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first democratically elected President a few months later.

The first time world-wide audiences saw Sharon perform, it was on CNN in April 1994. By then, a date had been set for South Africa's first-ever democratic election. Sharon was commissioned by the Independent Electoral Commission to write songs in many of South Africa's languages to teach people how to vote for the first time in their lives. CNN caught Sharon jumping down from a helicopter to perform the songs in a remote area of KwaZulu Natal because Chief Buthelezi had just agreed to let his people vote and there was an urgent need to inform people quickly.

The CNN piece brought international attention, and the invitations to perform in the US and elsewhere started pouring in. The Peace Train was about to become The Peace Plane!

100,000 fans screamed for more at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, just one of their stops when Sharon Katz & The Peace Train did a 5-week, 8-city US tour. They were an instant hit, selling out all their CD's at the first concert.

As South Africa's "Cultural Ambassadors," Sharon Katz & The Peace Train took flight in 1995 to spread their music and message to the US. With sponsorship from the government and private sector in both South Africa and America, Sharon responded to the US invitations by taking her 45-member performing group on a 5-week, 8-city US tour.

From Disney World's International Festival to the New Orleans Jazz Fest, from Harlem to Hampton, Memphis and Cincinnati, and from Philadelphia's Penn's Landing to Washington, DC's Duke Ellington School of Performing Arts, Sharon Katz & The Peace Train thrilled audiences of all ages with the unstoppable beat and amazing harmonies of South African music and Dance.

Sting and Trudie Styler heard about them from one of Paul Simon's producers, and soon Sharon Katz & The Peace Train were whisked in to the studio to record for an album that included Sting, Paul Simon, Tina Turner, Elton John and Madonna.

Sharon Katz & The Peace Train had just returned from a performance at the National Theatre of Ghana -- part of their "Cape to Cairo Peace Train Tour" -- when the phone rang from London. Marc Silag, a production supervisor for Paul Simon, was working on a recording project for Sting and Trudie and they wanted Sharon Katz & The Peace Train in the recording studio in 3 days. Without even time to unpack from Ghana, the group was whisked into the studio for a recording and video session. The resulting album is called "Carnival" and also includes Elton John, Madonna, Bette Midler and Tina Turner. Sharon Katz & The Peace Train had really hit the big time!

Nelson Mandela's "Cultural Ambassadors" began touring the world, treating Presidents, Kings and millions of fans on 3 continents to the unstoppable beat of their music. Back home in South Africa, Sharon was using her music therapy techniques to help heal the nation from the wounds of apartheid. She's also been working in other trouble spots around the world, earning her a reputation for converting "gang members in to band members."

With violence, intolerance and problems in schools becoming a daily concern in America too, Sharon has established a base in the U.S. She's doing workshops and concerts in schools, universities and community centers across the country. She's also forming Peace Train projects in many cities.

In another landmark event, Sharon composed and directed "Crossing Rhythms," a music and dance extravaganza that featured over 200 performers from across the African continent and had South Africa's Philharmonic Orchestra playing African music for the first time in its history.

Sharon earned a Grammy nomination for her "Imbizo" CD and has several CDs to her credit as well as DVDs that featuring the legendary Pete Seeger in concert with her and the band. Sharon also toured the US with Abigail Kubeka of Miriam Makeba's Skylarks, and has a DVD of that tour available.

With a recording and performing career firmly established, Sharon turned her attention back to her humanitarian work and social development projects in South Africa. With proceeds from CD sales and contributions to her non-profit organization, Friends of The Peace Train, Sharon has established music therapy programs for orphans and communities affected by HIV/AIDS; feeding programs in impoverished areas; conflict resolution work in violence-torn regions; and building schools and community arts centers. She also conducts workshops in schools and universities across America.
Sonny Ochs - Host
Sonny Ochs - Host
On April 9, 1976 my brother, Phil Ochs, ended his life by hanging himself. He was 35 years old. He had written over 100 songs, and had traveled to many countries. He suffered from manic-depression and had been experiencing a long term writer's block. Many of his songs had been recorded by artists such as John Denver, Gordon Lightfoot, Ronnie Gilbert, Joan Baez, Judy Collins and Pete Seeger.

Six years after Phil's death, Ned Traynor who was then active with the musicians' cooperative which was producing concerts at the Speakeasy on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village, suggested that they do a Phil Ochs Song Night. I said that I thought it was a great idea. From time to time I would call up and suggest the name of a performer I would like to see in the program. Everyone I suggested was accepted. After a while, I realized that nobody was really in charge.
Venue Information:
The Kent Stage
175 East Main
Kent, OH, 44240