Their visit is part of the semester-long series of the URI Honors Colloquium, Songs of Social Justice: The Rhetoric of Music. The series explores the use of music as a means of expression, persuasion, and mobilization. All events are free and open to the public.
Both musicians have dedicated their careers to social justice, particularly the labor and union movements.
Petric, born in a log cabin in Idaho in 1915, has been collecting songs and protesting since the 1930’s. She marched and sang for civil rights and is a co-founder of the Freedom Song Network and a regular contributor to Sing Out! A lyric from one of her songs puts her age in perspective: “We’ll march again confound then all, don’t quibble at my age. I’ll shield you with my brittle bones; I’ll nourish you with rage.” (from Grandma’s Battle Cry) She is known as the Fort Knox of folk music, a one person San Francisco institution.
Utah Phillips, the “Golden Voice of the Great Southwest,” is a day-to-day activist using songs to bolster the spirit of those in need, to unify the spirit of those being divided by management or governments, to inspire the spirit to rise up and change the world. He was introduced to a whole new generation when he collaborated with Ani DiFranco on a Grammy nominated CD “The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere.” Constantly resisting the commercialism of the music industry, he says: “I don’t write songs for money. You breathe them in the air, and they take on a life of their own.” Detroit’s Metrotimes notes that “An evening in his company is an object lesson in the power of folk art to help everyday people develop a sense of their shared worth and importance in the world.”
Professor Stephen Wood, co-coordinator of the Honors Colloquium says: “The audience will be enthralled, challenged, and entertained by Utah and Faith. Together they will explore the nature of labor and work, its history and current state-of-affairs. It will be a rare evening that no one will soon forget.”
Visit www.uri.edu/hc for the colloquium schedule and directions. For more information, contact the URI Honors Center at 401-874-2303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Major sponsors for the series are The Providence Journal, the URI Division of University Advancement, the URI Honors Program, the URI Office of the President and the URI Office of the Provost.