Music Legends @ Port Wash Lib 1/26/12

LIMHoF Presents an Evening with Ervin Drake and Oscar Brand

The Long Island Music Hall of Fame (LIMHoF) announces the launch of LIMHoF At The Library on Thursday, January 26th (7:30PM). The series at the Port Washington Library (One Library Drive, Port Washington NY) kicks off with two veteran songwriters who have shared a decades-long friendship, Ervin Drake and LIMHoF Inductee Oscar Brand. In this multimedia program, Mr. Drake and Mr. Brand will speak about their incredible careers and accomplishments. Residents of Port Washington will be seated first.

Oscar Brand, a youth of 91, is a folk singer, songwriter, and author. Throughout a career spanning over 60 years, he has composed at least  300 songs and released nearly 100 albums. His music runs the gamut from novelty song to serious social commentary, and spans an incredible number of genres. In his long career he has played alongside such legends of folk music as Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Josh White, The Weavers and Pete Seeger. He has written various books on the folk song and compiled numerous folk song collections. Brand’s catalog of songs includes the Canadian patriotic song “Something to Sing About” (actual title: “This Land of Ours“), one of the country’s national folk songs. He has also collaborated on a number of successful musicals, and served on the board that created the Children’s Television Workshop (CTW), the genesis of the creation of the Sesame Street television show. 

Mr. Brand has hosted the radio show ‘Oscar Brand’s Folksong Festival’ on WNYC-AM 820 in New York since its debut on December 10, 1945, making it the longest-running radio show with the same host. The show has presented such talents as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Woody and Arlo Guthrie, Huddie Ledbetter, Peter, Paul & Mary, Judy Collins,
Kingston Trio, Pete Seeger and The Weavers. In order to insure that the program could not be censored, Brand has refused payment from WNYC for his work on the program.

Although Brand was never a member of the Communist party, the HUAC committee referred to his show as a “pipeline of communism”, because of his belief in the First Amendment rights of blacklisted artists to have a platform to reach the public. Accordingly, in June 1950, Brand was named in the premier issue of Red Channels as a Communist sympathizer.

In the early 1960s Oscar Brand returned to his native Canada as host of the television program ‘Let’s Sing Out’. The show revived the careers of long-forgotten pioneers of the folk music movement such as Malvina Reynolds and The Weavers. The show also introduced then-unknown Canadian singers such as Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot. Oscar Brand received the Peabody Award for broadcast excellence in 1982 for his work on ‘The Sunday Show’ on National Public Radio, and he was awarded the Personal Peabody Award in 1997.

Ervin Drake, currently 92 years young, became a published songwriter at age 12, in 1931. Since that time, he has written or co-written a number of American Songbook standards, including “It Was a Very Good Year“. His stylistically varied work has been recorded by musicians from all over the world. “I Believe“, a number-one hit for Frankie Laine in 1953, holds the record for number of non-consecutive weeks spent at number one. The song has been recorded by dozens of artists, including Barbra Streisand and Elvis Presley. These are a few of the accomplishments that led to Mr. Drake’s 1983 induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

He wrote words and music for ‘It Was a Very Good Year’, a song first recorded by The Kingston Trio in 1961. In a 2009 interview, Drake said that Frank Sinatra recorded the song for his introspective 1965 album ‘September of My Years’ after having heard it on the car radio. The Sinatra recording reached the Top Ten 1966. The piece has been recorded in over 10 languages by over 50 artists on many major labels. As a lyricist, Drake co-authored the jazz standard ‘Good Morning Heartache’, a song recorded by over 100 artists, including Diana Ross for the movie Lady Sings the Blues. The incredible story behind that song is one that Mr. Drake will surely share during the evening’s program.

Besides composing music and lyrics, Mr. Drake was also a television producer who worked with such performers as Jackie Gleason and Milton Berle. He was also president of the American Guild of Authors and Composers from 1973 to 1982.

Please join us on Thursday, January 26th as the Long Island Music Hall of Fame and the Port Washington Library welcome Ervin Drake and Oscar Brand, two musical legends to the stage for a special evening of music and conversation. Residents of Port Washington will be seated first at this event.

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Long Island Music Hall of Fame (LIMHOF) is a 501(c)(3) museum and membership organization dedicated to the idea that Long Island’s musical heritage is an important resource to be celebrated and preserved for future generations. The organization defines Long Island geographically as Kings, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties. The Hall
of Fame sponsors the Long Island Sound Award (LISA), traveling educational exhibits, and a scholarship program. It is also creating a museum home where the story of the Island’s musical heritage will be told. For more information about the Long Island Music Hall of Fame, please visit http://limusichalloffame.org/

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