Folk Music and Human Rights

By Ross Altman


Blues giant Josh White had just finished his show at New York nightclub Café Society and was cooling off in the backstage dressing room when jazz legend Billie Holiday walked in and pulled a knife on him. What could he have done to provoke this response from his fellow artist? "Stop singing my song," said Holiday, and White suddenly realized she was not pleased that he had performed Strange Fruit, the anti-lynching song written for her by Abel Meeropol with which she often ended her concerts.

White had to do some quick thinking, since this was one of those times when it might be too late to tell oneself, "I wish I had said that." "Billie, why don't we both sing Strange Fruit until no one ever has to sing it again?" Josh White's appeal to the reason she sang the song prompted her to put the knife away.

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July-August 2008 

Falsetto Festival Hits High Note

By Audrey Coleman


"Now that was a real folk festival!" I said to my husband Michael as we strolled out of the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center just past six o'clock on Sunday, July 13, 2008. We had just spent four hours listening to Hawaiian falsetto singers, some imported from the islands, some local. The Aloha Falsetto Festival proved that this special art of singing by both men and women is both alive and, judging from the enthusiastic, near-capacity crowd, much appreciated.

The program progressed from the locals and lesser-knowns to the headliners, ending with the supremely gifted Raietea Helm. At 23, the a two- time Grammy nominee and Na Hoku Hano Hano (Hawaiian Grammy) award-winner produced strong, crystal-clear high notes and goose bump-producing musical nuances 

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