CGOTH at Folk Alliance
February 16-19, 2011

Common Ground on the Hill will have a big presence at the Folk Alliance International (FAI) Conference in Memphis, TN on February 16-19, 2011. The nearly 3000 member FAI has met each winter since January 1989.

1) On the 16th, Common Ground on the Hill will be a sponsor of the annual FAI Awards, which will air on XM Satelite Radio. The program will include the Elaine Weissman Lifetime Achievement Awards which will be presented to Joan Baez, Les Blank, and the late Jimmie Rodgers. CGOTH Director of Development Art Menius serves as chair of the LAA Committee.

2) Walt Michael, Executive Director of Common Ground on the Hill will present "Of These Hollers I Sing" at Folk Alliance International Conference at 2 PM on Thursday, February 17, 2011 in the Chattanooga Room.

Walt Michael spent his summers in the 1960's as a student volunteer and community organizer in McDowell County, West Virginia, deep in coal country. It was the beginning of a musical odyssey in search of social justice that continues to this day. Walt made friendships in the mountains that have endured over forty-five years and that are at the heart of this one man show.  Songs, ballads, stories, field recordings and photographs comprise this moving live music and multi-media presentation that explores life in the hollers then and now.  From witnessing the hanging of John Hardy, minstrelsy with the Baldwin Thugs, truck mining disasters and mountaintop removal to the richness of the inner spirit and music of the Appalachian people, this is a hard hitting look at America and its ongoing proclivity to marginalize its poor.

Of These Hollers I Sing has been presented at Harvard Divinity School, The Swannanoa Gathering, Common Ground on the Hill, and McDaniel College.

Click here to see an excerpt

3)      Voices from the Cultural Battlefront Session One. Chattanooga Room. 2 - 4 PM Friday

Menius, the 1990 FAI president, will host two Voices from the Cultural Battlefront sessions to continue our work of the past three years providing a safe space for talking and working together concerning the meaning of artistic endeavor and the role of artists in social activism. Our group will be joined this year by activist artists Si Kahn, recently retired Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership; Walt Michael, Executive Director of Common Ground on the Hill; and Carlton Turner, Executive Director of Alternative Roots. As always, Voices at FAI will be. People are welcome to attend any portion of these sessions.

On the first day, we shall begin as always with a brief review of Cultural Equity concepts and an introductory we would briefly review, and then participate in a story circle about the past year in these terms. Then we’ll learn about Roots Fest, Alternate Roots’ June 2011 35th Anniversary celebration in Baltimore and how FAI members can be involved, as well as Common Ground on the Hill and Artists United to Save Bristol Bay.

We’ll conclude the first day by listening to the recorded versions of the two songs we created together in 2010, making a group decision about whether we’d like to continuing to refine those two songs or create new songs this year. Then we’ll divide into groups for that purpose.

4) Voices from the Cultural Battlefront Session Two. Chattanooga Room. 1:30 - 3:30 PM Saturday.

On the second day, we’ll open with a discussion about a cultural equity related action or advocacy position to propose to the FAI Advocacy Committee. Then each group will have time to finish their songs, present them to the entire group, revise, and then record them. We conclude by brainstorming ideas about ways that these songs could be shared with larger groups and how better to package the Cultural Equity message.


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