POET TYEHIMBA JESS; BLUES MAN AND ACTOR GUY DAVIS; LEAD BELLY ARCHIVIST/AUTHOR JOHN REYNOLDS; AND FOLKSINGER TOM CHAPIN TO DEDICATE PLAQUE AT CEREMONY
FOOTAGE AND PHOTOS WILL BE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST
Lead Belly Fest – the multi-artist tribute to Lead Belly taking place at Carnegie Hall on February 4 – will be placing a plaque on the apartment building where he lived during the last decade of his life at 414 E. 10th Street tomorrow, to commemorate his life and times in New York on his birthday of January 20. Those speaking at the ceremony include National Endowment for the Arts fellow, poet, and Lead Belly chronicler Tyehimba Jess; actor and bluesman Guy Davis; three-time GRAMMY winner Tom Chapin; and Lead Belly historian, archivist, and author John Reynolds. Other members of NYC’s folk and blues scenes will be in attendance, including Ernie Vega. A group performance of “Good Night Irene” will follow.
WHO: Tyehimba Jess, Guy Davis, John Reynolds, Tom Chapin, Stephen Petrus, other musicians
WHAT: Placing of plaque on Lead Belly’s former building
WHEN: 3pm, January 20, 2016
WHERE: 414 E. 10th Street, NYC
RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org or 718.541.1130
+ Guy Davis is an artist who has excelled in many disciplines; he is a musician, composer, actor, director, and writer. He has received accolades and praise for his performance off-Broadway as the legendary Robert Johnson in “Robert Johnson: Trick The Devil,” winning the Blues Foundation's "Keeping the Blues Alive Award”. Likewise, he received rave reviews for his appearance on Broadway in “Finian's Rainbow”, playing the part originally played by the legendary Sonny Terry. He has been nominated for nearly a dozen Blues Awards and has performed on such shows as Prairie Home Companion, Late Show With David Letterman and Late Night With Conan O'Brien. Most recently, he is nominated for two 2016 Blues Music Awards. A friend of Pete Seeger’s, the two used to perform “Midnight Special” in concert frequently.
+ Born in Detroit, poet and Lead Belly chronicler Tyehimba Jess earned his BA from the University of Chicago and his MFA from New York University. Jess is the rare poet who bridges slam and academic poetry. His first collection, Leadbelly (2005), an exploration of Ledbetter’s life, was chosen for the National Poetry Series by Brigit Pegeen Kelly, and was voted one of the top three poetry books of the year by Black Issues Book Review. His work has been featured in numerous anthologies, including Soulfires: Young Black Men in Love and Violence (1996), Slam: The Competitive Art of Performance Poetry (2000), and Dark Matter 2: Reading the Bones (2004). He is the author of African American Pride: Celebrating Our Achievements, Contributions, and Enduring Legacy (2003). His honors include a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Chicago Sun-Times Poetry Award, and a Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Poetry Award. A former artist-in-residence with Cave Canem, Jess has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council, and the Fine Arts Work Center at Provincetown, as well as a Lannan Writing Residency. Jess has taught at the Juilliard School, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and at the College of Staten Island in New York City.
+ Through 50 years, 24 albums, eight GRAMMY nominations, three GRAMMY awards and thousands of live performances, Tom Chapin has entertained, amused and enlightened audiences of all ages with life-affirming original songs told in a sophisticated array of musical styles. The New York Times calls Chapin "one of the great personalities in contemporary folk music," while Billboard described him as "the best family artist around" and "totally captivating." Parents magazine stated, "Nobody today is writing and performing better kids' songs than Tom Chapin." In his varied career, Chapin has appeared on Broadway as Jim in the hit-musical Pump Boys and Dinettes and off-Broadway as musical director of Cotton Patch Gospel and Harry Chapin: Lies & Legends. In film he created the music for the award-winning shark documentary Blue Water, White Death and had a cameo role in the 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate. On television Chapin hosted the ABC Emmy & Peabody award-winning children’s show Make A Wish and the documentary series National Geographic Explorer. His newest recording is the acclaimed “70” (Sing Out! says, “Pick up this album, it’s a great one.”)
+ John Reynolds has been a fan, collector, advocate and Ledbetter family confident for almost 60 years. He knows through his own sense-driven perception, the enormous importance of Huddle Ledbetter. His extensive files contain just about every photograph, article, artifact and tangential scrap that bears Lead Belly's stamp. He sought out Huddie's widow Martha after 'Goodnight, Irene' became popular, and visited her often in her top floor apt (#26) at 414 East 10th St in the 50s before joining the navy. He co-authored 'LEAD BELLY: A Life in Pictures' (Steidl, 2008) with Tiny Robinson, Lead Belly's favorite niece.
+ Stephen Petrus is an Andrew W. Mellon Research Fellow at the New-York Historical Society, where he is working on his second book, a political and cultural history of Greenwich Village in the 1950s and 60s. At the Museum of the City of New York, he curated the critically acclaimed exhibition Folk City in 2015 and was co-author of the show's accompanying book, with historian Ronald D. Cohen. Stephen is a twentieth-century U.S. urban and cultural historian. He received his Ph.D. from the City University Graduate Center and taught at Lehman College in the Bronx.