Holly Near returns to Charlotte’s Web Feb. 12

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Perennial favorite Holly Near—a dynamic combo of entertainer, teacher and activist—returns to Charlotte’s Web this weekend. She’ll be performing at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 12, at Second Congregational Church, 318 N. Church St.

California-born, Holly Near is at home on either coast and finds receptive audiences everywhere. An immense vocal talent, her career as a singer encompasses her passion for peace, world consciousness, spiritual discovery and theatricality. Her professional career began with performances in such films and television shows as Slaughterhouse Five, Minnie and Moskowitz, All In The Family, The Mod Squad and The Partridge Family. She also appeared in Hair on Broadway. Eventually, music became her major focus, especially music that articulated the social conditions of the world community. Near started writing and singing songs. She has collaborated with such artists as Ronnie Gilbert, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Mercedes Sosa, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Linda Tillery and others.

In 1972, Near founded Redwood Records, which became a major force in alternative music for nearly 20 years and promoted music by politically conscious artists from around the world. She helped support the work of artists from Nicaragua, Chile, Australia, Canada, England, Argentina, Cuba, Uruguay, Vietnam, El Salvador, Mexico, and the U.S. She was outspoken on such issues as gay and lesbian rights, a woman’s right to choose, and domestic violence before they became acceptable. She has received numerous awards for her work for social change, including honors from the ACLU, the National Lawyers Guild, the National Organization for Women, NARAS, Ms. Magazine (Woman of the Year), and the Legends of Women’s Music Award.

In 1996, Ronnie Gilbert and Near released their third joint recording, This Train Still Runs!, celebrating Ronnie’s 70th year. In 1997, Holly released With A Song In My Heart, a collection of sweet love songs of the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s. In 2000, Near began to release her out-of-print recordings, starting with Musical Highlights, which contains songs she sang in a one-woman play she wrote and performed in regional theaters and off-Broadway. In 2001, Appleseed Recordings re-issued HARP: A Time to Sing, featuring Holly, Arlo Guthrie, Ronnie Gilbert and Pete Seeger. More out-of-print recordings were re-issued in 2002.

Holly Near’s recent recording, Edge, released on her own label, Calico Tracks Music, shows she is continuing to write and sing political songs with grace, humor and the maturity of doing this work for 30 years.

Near also published an autobiography, Fire In The Rain: Singer In The Storm (currently out of print) and a children’s book, The Great Peace March. Her papers are archived with the Schlesinger Library at Radcliff. Near also teaches master classes in performance craft and song writing.

For Charlotte’s Web, Near will perform solo in a “Song Talk” as she reflects on her life, activism, art and attitude. She will integrate a cappella songs into her performance. For 30 years and more than 20 albums, she is known worldwide as an ambassador for peace, justice and social change, and has received many honors.

Tickets are $18 in advance or $20 at the door. Tickets are available at Rockford Area Arts Council, 713 E. State St., 963-6765; The Postal Shoppe, Edgebrook Center, 397-7301; and Tin Whistle, N. Main & Auburn, 963-0270; or by mail with check and SASE, 10928 N. Main, Rockton, IL 61072. For Web information, call 964-2238.

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