Noel Paul Stookey
Portrait by Sally Farr, courtesy of www.noelpaulstookey.com
Born: 30 November 1937, Baltimore, Maryland
While attending Michigan State University he played electric guitar with several bands, performed as a stand-up comedian, and worked as an emcee at local clubs. After graduation he moved to New York's Greenwich Village, working in a chemical plant during the days and as an emcee nights and weekends. He was a regular at Sunday afternoon jams in Washington Square Park. He lived downstairs from Mary Travers, when she and Peter Yarrow she brought Noel in for an evening of singing. The three were pleased with the blend and formed Peter, Paul and Mary, one of the most important and successful groups in folk music. PP&M toured and recorded actively through 1970, then pursued solo careers. Stookey had a Christian religious conversion in 1968 and has written a number of successful songs in that genre, despite his liberal politics which contrast strongly with most Christian-identified performers. He wrote "The Wedding Song (There is Love)" for Yarrow's wedding in 1969, he gave the rights to the Public Domain Foundation which has raised over $2 million for children's charities from it. He moved his family to South Blue Hill, Maine in 1973, establishing a recording studio and multimedia company. In 1978 Yarrow organized a benefit at the Hollywood Bowl (Survival Sunday), bringing the trio back together, inspiring them to restart the partnership in a way that allowed time for solo work along with some 45 concerts a year until Travers' health problems and death. Stookey's studio continues to create children's computer software, television shows, and music.
Noel Paul Stookey quotes:
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- I think the new album will be a wake-up call to the fact that folk music has never really gone away-it's just manifested itself in a lot of different disguises, whether it's Springsteen, Sting or Bruce Hornsby, all of whom happened after the '60s, which was the opening of the awareness that songs could be about anything. permalink
- Those were exciting times. I would only wish that the same environment of artistic exchange and freedom could be made available to more young artist today. permalink
- Ultimately we're all responsible for putting our belief into action. permalink
- We live in more pragmatic times than when we originally recorded those songs. But many of the dreamers of the '60s have been elected to governmental office or taken on a leadership role in their communities. They are now in the position to make a difference. permalink
- Whether it's your own material or somebody else's material, it's essential that you identify with it thoroughly. It's like you want to archive it; you want to freeze it in time in terms of your perspective on it, then move on, because folk music is that volatile and comments not only on overall human concerns but also on the specifics. permalink
- You have to put your body on the line from time to time in order to make a statement or change a law. permalink
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