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American Folk Music Royalty Ellen Harper To Appear At The Braid In Special Zoom Event

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Harper will share her fascinating memories of growing up in the middle of the folk music scene with such luminaries as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Pete Seeger.

American Folk Music Royalty Ellen Harper To Appear At The Braid In Special Zoom Event

Ellen Harper - folk singer-songwriter, mother to Grammy-winning musician Ben Harper, and owner of the historic Folk Music Center in Claremont, California, has been around folk music all her life.

She will share her fascinating memories of growing up in the middle of the folk music scene with such luminaries as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Pete Seeger when she visits The Braid (formerly Jewish Women's Theatre) for a unique Zoom event on Sunday, July 11, at 11:00am PT, 2:00pm ET.In addition to giving viewers a sneak preview of her new book, Always a Song: Singers, Songwriters, Sinners and Saints, Harper will join moderator and award-winning author Lisa Rosenbaum for a free-wheeling conversation that will reveal intimate insights about the famous musicians and folklorists her family has known.

The program will also include a short dramatic performance adapted from Harper's book, a montage of personal and behind-the-scenes photos accompanied by a treasured song Harper recorded with her son, followed by a Q&A with the audience. Sunday Morning with The Braid featuring Ellen Harper is free to attend, but The Braid hopes viewers will consider choosing a virtual ticket from its website. For the link to register and more information on how to use Zoom, visit: the-braid.org/sunday.

Harper will not only share stories of her remarkable life with the Zoom audience, she will also discuss how her Jewish background shaped her, her unusual family, and others who led the American folk music revival of the 1950s -'70s.Raised in New England by a banjo- and guitar-playing mother who taught and performed with folk legends at the famed Hecht House in Boston, Harper experienced anti-Semitism as a child when her father was blacklisted during the McCarthy era and fired as a public school teacher. Family friend Pete Seeger suggested the family relocate to California where her father could use his skill at repairing and restoring instruments to start a business. That business would one day become Claremont's Folk Music Center, whose extraordinary collection of instruments and its performance space and music school have attracted folk and rock luminaries since its opening in 1958.

As a Jewish single mother raising three bi-racial sons in predominantly white Claremont, Harper often faced difficult challenges. Performing, writing, and teaching folk music gave her joy and the solace she needed to survive. When asked what keeping folk music alive means to her today, Harper says, "When people come together to sing, be it in a band, church, temple, picket line, protest march, ukulele club, or living room - wherever voices are raised together in song - that is a folk music revival. You don't have to be a musician to appreciate and carry on this tradition. Musicians can't keep music alive for a second without music lovers.

"Moderator Rosenbaum adds, "I have always been fascinated by the role Jews played in the American folk scene. They've been song-writers and performers, like Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, and Simon and Garfunkel, and impresarios like Fred Weintraub at The Bitter End or Bill Graham at the Fillmores East and West. Jewish folklorists like Alan Lomax were at the forefront of recording and preserving traditional American folk music from many traditions." Rosenbaum was also personally interested in Ellen Harper's story. "My own family's experience during the McCarthy era is similar to Ellen Harper's and as someone who also grew up adoring the folk musicians she knows, I am looking forward to hearing more of the stories she shares in her deeply moving memoir."

Ronda Spinak, The Braid's artistic director adds, "As a Jewish arts organization, we are delighted to shine a light on a beloved music genre that has also been so deeply influenced by Jewish writers and musicians. Ellen Harper's journey has given her a unique view of the folk scene, from rural New England and Claremont, California to the White House. We are honored to introduce her to our audience."

The Braid is the 2020 winner of The Argonaut's Best of the Westside's "Best Live Theatre Award" and The Santa Monica Daily Press award for "Most Loved" performance. The Braid presents inspiring Jewish stories, art, and other programming that highlight Jewish contributions to contemporary life. Now in its 13th (bat mitzvah) season, The Braid's salon theatre of original dramatic shows, each written to a specific theme, displays the diverse and eclectic community of writers, artists, and creators who celebrate Jewish life, one story at a time.

Learn more about The Braid at: www.the-braid.org. For virtual tickets to Ellen Harper: Life at the Center of the Folk Music Revival, visit: the-braid.org/sunday.


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