USA – DC Labor Chorus and the Great Labor Arts Exchange (GLAE) INTERVIEW: Elise Bryant is the Director of the Labor Heritage Foundation and founder of the DC Labor Chorus.

 

What are the highlights of the 2017 GLAE?

This was the biggest GLAE in history – eight Labor Choruses and two Women Choruses; the “Building a Vocal Community” workshop with Ysaye Barnwell, founding member of Sweet Honey in the Rock on the opening night; the song/poetry/spoken word contest; a “Out At Work” panel by LGBTQ activists; culminating in an all chorus concert with performances by the contest winners!

 

Why is it such a valuable annual event?

The GLAE is the annual gathering of labor and social justice cultural workers to share, teach, learn and celebrate our work.  Singers, songwriters, poets, spoken word artists, musicians and visual artists enjoy a weekend of workshops, films, discussion groups, jam sessions and open mic! The weekend ends with a free concert that is open to the public.

 

Why was Bev Grant chosen for the Joe Hill Award this year?

Bev Grant was chosen for her 26 years of service to the Northeast Women’s School as their cultural director; her music/spoken word production of “We Were There: the History of Women in the Labor Movement through Story and Song,” as well as her founding and direction of the Brooklyn Women’s chorus 20 years ago – Janet Stecher, was also the co-honoree and the founder of the Seattle Labor Chorus.

 

Joe Hill Award Winner Bev Grant

“Bev Grant is a veteran social activist, feminist, and labor singer-songwriter. Twenty years ago, she founded and still directs the Brooklyn Women’s Chorus, a non-audition community chorus who have recorded two cds. She has been cultural director of the UALE NE Union Women’s Summer School for the past 26 years, where she developed and wrote the theme song for the multi-media women’s labor history show, called “We Were There!” which she presents throughout the labor movement.

 

Bev grew up singing and playing with her two older sisters in Portland, OR.  After moving to New York City in the early 60s, she devoted her growing social consciousness, first to filmmaking with NY Newsreel, a radical filmmaking organization now known as Third World Newsreel. She worked on a film about the Miss America Beauty Pageant protest in 1968 and the Young Lords Party in 1970 and began writing topical songs.

 

She left Newsreel in 1972 and formed her band The Human Condition, who recorded their first album “Working People Gonna Rise,” with Paredon Records, now distributed by Smithsonian/Folkways. The band played together throughout the 70s and 80s, disbanding in 1991. She just released a new cd called “It’s Personal.” www.bevgrant.com

 

About the DC Labor Chorus: Join them on Facebook here
“The DC Labor Chorus is a musical ensemble from the Washington, DC area. We sing for solidarity, we sing for justice and we sing for joy. Some of us are professional musicians but most of us are union members and activists who just love to sing! The DC Labor Chorus performs at concerts, rallies, demonstrations, and picket lines.Every year we welcome union members from across the nation to the annual Great Labor Arts Exchange each summer, we hold an annual “Sacred/Favorite Songs” concert every winter and a community benefit concert every spring.Our mission is to strengthen the labor movement, raise awareness of social injustice and be an agent of change through the use of music and arts.

 

 

The DC Labor Chorus is a program/affiliate of the Labor Heritage Foundation, a 501(c) 3 non profit organization. We welcome you to join us. Practices are Monday evenings at the Washington Ethical Society from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM.”

 

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