Plenary: The Role of Community in Making Songs Powerful
Pete Seeger was one of the best at moving the hearts of the world through the power of song. His success depended on the legacy of musical traditions embedded in cultures from all over the world and in a wide range of skills, which sprang from communities that valued and actively used song as a rallying force for community engagement. We can and should celebrate these traditions, which originated during what some might call, “simpler times.”
But we also must recognize that today we live in a world that moves at a faster pace, is less community-minded, and is not wedded to song in the same ways that artists like Pete experienced. Despite these challenging cultural changes, the power of music to reach the heart, call attention to pressing issues, and focus constructive energy for a cause still endures.
Kim and Reggie Harris will take a look at the history of musical traditions that have nurtured the cause of freedom and justice. They will suggest a fresh vision for how communities of artists can use our talents and passion to reach strangers, friends and potential allies in making these traditions relevant today.
Biography: Consummate musicians and storytellers, Kim and Reggie Harris combine a strong folk and gospel legacy with a solid background in classical, rock and pop music. Creative curiosity, years of road and stage experience and interactions with performers such as Pete Seeger, Ysaye Barnwell, Jay Leno, Tom Paxton, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Harry Belafonte and others, has led them to produce music that entertains and inspires.
As a result of their CDs “Steal Away” and Get On Board” (Appleseed Recordings) and materials developed in their work with the Kennedy Center, Kim and Reggie have earned wide acclaimed for their contributions to the resources and knowledge base – in historical and educational circles – on the Underground Railroad and the modern civil rights movement.
Kim and Reggie Harris are dynamic and superbly talented traditional folk performers, whose captivating stage presence and unique harmonies has earned the respect and love of audiences throughout the US, Canada and Europe for over 30 years. They are unique in their ability to entertain audiences of any age and background as they blend their talents as singers, songwriters, educators, interpreters of history and cultural advocates.