SINGING HISTORY programs (listed below) dynamically present the history of America using period songs and their stories.
Singing History is my name for a series of programs which have been presented in schools throughout Maine and New England since 1986. Thousands of children have been entertained and educated through these programs. My work is recognized by the Maine Arts Commission and the New England Foundation for the Arts, and I have received numerous grants to present single programs and residencies. I've also presented these programs to adults through libraries, historical societies, churches and other organizations. In each program, the songs people sang during each time period are used to illustrate the history being taught, and the fascinating true stories of how this country has grown are used to illuminate the songs. I accompany myself on a variety of instruments, including guitar, banjo, autoharp, limberjack, bones, bodhran, tambourine, and lots of other percussive stuff. The result is a very engaging and memorable experience which really solidifies concepts and brings what is often seen as a boring subject to life. Every presentation has been carefully researched and is age and curriculum appropriate. To see descriptions of many of the different programs, please select from the programs listed on the Singing History Programs page that can be accessed from the Music/Programs tab.
Native Peoples of Maine
The Wabanaki of Maine, their lifestyles and beliefs; stories from Wabanaki tradition, such as Gluskap and the Birch Tree and The Gifts of Gluskap; Wabanaki songs; the coming of Europeans. A few of the songs: Tuhtuwas, Ancient Peoples, Sacred Lands, The Birchbark Canoe, Oh, Great Forest, as well as Gluskap stories.
Maine Lumbering and Shipping
The lumbering industry from colonial Broad Arrow Pines to the height of white pine logging in the 1800's, how the men lived and what they did, log drives, dangers. Cod fishing before 1620, the importance of the cod, shipbuilding, sailors' lives and the work on ships, sea shanties that accompanied the work, the triangle trades, ice trade, clipper ships and more. A few of the songs: The Lumberman's Alphabet, The Jam on Gerry's Rock, The Frozen Logger, Canada-i-o, The Good Old State of Maine, Cape Cod Girls, I'ze the B'ye, Haul Away Joe.
The Colonies and the Revolution
Life in colonial times, men's and women's work, farming, the kinds of music they listened to, children's work, the Revolution and the stresses it placed on families, propaganda on both sides, the battle of Yorktown, British surrender, and the mystery of Yankee Doodle revealed. Some of the songs: Old Man in the Woods, The Farmer's Curst Wife, the Golden Vanity, Soldier, Soldier, Will You Marry Me?, The Dying Redcoat, Yankee Doodle.
HerStory: Women in History
Women's lives and work from colonial times to the Civil Rights Movement. Tracing the role of women, how their work changed during the Industrial Revolution, women in slavery, Harriet Tubman, the Civil Rights movement and Rosa Parks. This program has been very successful with both girls and boys, and stresses that all men, women and children are affected by, and influence, history. A few of the songs: The Single Girl, Wagoner's Lad, Cotton Mill Girls, Bread and Roses, Union Maid, I Didn't Raise My Boy to be a Soldier.
The Near West, life in isolated communities, the Erie canal, the groups who built the railroads, the Gold Rush, the government policy on Indians, the Cherokee and the Trail of Tears, and the near extinction of the buffalo to facilitate Indian removal. A few of the songs: Common Bill, Sweet Betsy from Pike, Drill Ye Tarriers, Drill, John Henry, Now that the Buffalo's Gone, Texas Rangers.
Slavery and the Civil War
The realities of slavery, daily life, cotton, the Underground Railroad and other types of slave resistance, the Civil War's causes and the emotions of each side as they are amply reflected in the songs of the conflict, Emancipation and Reconstruction. A few of the songs: Dixie, Go Down Moses, Lincoln and Liberty, Shiloh Hill, Tenting Tonight, Many Thousands Gone, The Battle Cry of Freedom.
The beginnings in England, the first American mills in New England, how they worked, the workforce of teenage girls, life in the factories, the cotton that fueled the wealth of New England and the slavery that produced it, immigration, early labor unrest and strikes, the mills moving south. The railroads and who built them, and the mines which produced the coal the railroads used for fuel. A few of the songs: Cotton Mill Girls, the Lewiston Factory Girl, No Irish Need Apply, Pick a Bale of Cotton, 16 Tons, Poor Man, Rich Man.
1890's to the First World War
The Gay Nineties, the images of women and the realities, the beginnings of modern popular music and culture, the movement for women's suffrage, the war and its terrible realities. A few of the songs: After the Ball, Daisy Bell, I Didn't Raise My Boy to be a Soldier, Down on Penney's Farm, Hanging on the Old Barbed Wire, Over There.
The Twenties and the Great Depression
Farmers, white and black, in the twenties, jazz, the Harlem Renaissance, the boom of Wall street, the crash, the Depression, the Dust Bowl, Hoover, FDR and the New Deal. A few of the songs: The Farmer is the Man, Down and Out, Brother, Can You Spare a Dime, Got the Jitters, Hallelujah I'm a Bum, the Worker's Appeal, Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries.
World War II
The unresolved problems of the First World War, the rise of Nazism, Japan and Pearl Harbor, mobilization, women at war, popular music in WWII quite different from other conflicts, the atom bomb and the end of the war. A few of the songs: We Did it Before, Rum and Coca-Cola, Buddy Blues, Accentuate the Positive, the Ballad of Ira Hayes, GI Jive, Hiroshima Boy.