The song, Where Have All the Flowers Gone, flourished on the airwaves during the height of the Vietnam War. It’s hard to forget Pete Seeger’s haunting refrain—When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn? These words demonstrate the power that an artist and a song can wield to help end a war. But can today’s popular music bring about a similar cultural and political change—one that will help end the war in Iraq? If so, what are the songs and who will sing them?
Holly Near—an outspoken activist, singer, teacher, and recording artist—has spent the past 35 years working for progressive political and social change. Over the years, Holly’s powerful anthems have captured the mood of many movements and now her voice and messages are no less urgent than those of 35 years ago. As one Holly Near fan put it, “She is a delightful combination of Pete Seeger and Judy Garland!”
Her latest recording, Show Up, is a pointed and provocative look at where society sits today—in a new millennium and going into the fourth year of a U.S. led foreign war. From her poignant treatment of Jackson Browne’s scathing indictment of the big business war machine in Lives in the Balance to an ironic rewrite of Laura Love’s I Want You Gone, no topic is sacred to Holly Near. War, peace, love, family, corporation, government, addiction—they all come under her scrutiny on Show Up. But Holly is not merely an observer. She invites audiences to take a stand—to take the higher road of vision, peace, perspective, and leadership—and to Show Up.
A superb mix of original songs and covers, Show Up showcases Holly’s extraordinary talent. Her songs Family Band and Somebody's Jail have the multi-layered poetry that do for a song what a high-powered lens does for a camera. I Am Willing is a healing balm in this time of great discouragement and despair; and she celebrates the environment in Jane Siberry’s Bound by
the Beauty. Addiction gets a long hard look in Holly’s reworking of the old sea shanty Drunken Sailor, accompanied solely by Jackeline Rago’s driving percussive rhythms.
This new recording is a launch pad for a tour by this powerful singer and delightful storyteller. Holly brings history alive as she relates her 35 years of work as a singer/songwriter and social change activist. And history meets the present as she takes on the opportunities and challenges facing the peace and justice movements of today. Whether out on her own or uniting with other contemporary activists, such as Gloria Steinem, Cindy Sheehan, and Medea Benjamin, Holly Near is keeping the political song tradition alive.