John McCutcheon

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John McCutcheon
John McCutcheon.jpg
McCutcheon performs at Blue Mountains Music Festival in Australia, March 2010.
Background information
Born1952 (age 6667)
Wausau, Wisconsin, United States
Genres Folk
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist

John McCutcheon (born August 14, 1952) is an American folk music singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has produced 40 albums since the 1970s. [1] He is regarded as a master of the hammered dulcimer, and is also proficient on many other instruments including guitar, banjo, autoharp, mountain dulcimer, fiddle, and jawharp. [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] He has received six Grammy Award nominations. [10]

Folk music Music of the people

Folk music includes traditional folk music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th-century folk revival. Some types of folk music may be called world music. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, music with unknown composers, or music performed by custom over a long period of time. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles. The term originated in the 19th century, but folk music extends beyond that.

Singer-songwriter musician who writes, composes and sings

Singer-songwriters are musicians who write, compose, and perform their own musical material, including lyrics and melodies.

Multi-instrumentalist musician who plays two or more musical instruments with some degree of proficiency

A multi-instrumentalist is a musician who plays two or more musical instruments at a professional level of proficiency.

Contents

Career

McCutcheon was born to Roman Catholic parents in Wausau, Wisconsin. He attended Saint James Grade School and graduated from Newman Catholic High School. He is a graduate of Saint John's University in Minnesota. While in his 20s, he travelled to Appalachia and learned from some of the legendary greats of traditional folk music, such as Roscoe Holcomb, I.D. Stamper, and Tommy Hunter. His vast repertoire also includes songs from contemporary writers like Si Kahn (e.g. "Gone Gonna Rise Again", "Rubber Blubber Whale") as well as a large body of his own music.

Wausau, Wisconsin Place in Marathon

Wausau is a city in and the county seat of Marathon County, Wisconsin, United States. The Wisconsin River divides the city into east and west. The city's suburbs include Schofield, Weston, Maine, Rib Mountain, Kronenwetter, and Rothschild.

Minnesota State of the United States of America

Minnesota is a state in the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes, and northern regions of the United States. Minnesota was admitted as the 32nd U.S. state on May 11, 1858, created from the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory. The state has a large number of lakes, and is known by the slogan the "Land of 10,000 Lakes". Its official motto is L'Étoile du Nord.

Appalachia Region

Appalachia is a cultural region in the Eastern United States that stretches from the Southern Tier of New York to northern Alabama and Georgia. While the Appalachian Mountains stretch from Belle Isle in Canada to Cheaha Mountain in Alabama, the cultural region of Appalachia typically refers only to the central and southern portions of the range, from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, southwesterly to the Great Smoky Mountains. As of the 2010 United States Census, the region was home to approximately 25 million people.

When McCutcheon became a father in the early 1980s he found most children's music "unmusical and condescending", [11] and sought to change the situation by releasing a children's album, Howjadoo, in 1983. Originally, he had only intended to do one children's record, but the popularity of this first effort led to the production of seven additional children's albums. [12] He has also written three books for children.

Much of his work, however, continues to focus on writing politically and socially conscious songs for adult audiences. One of his most successful songs, "Christmas in the Trenches" (from his 1984 album Winter Solstice), tells the story of the Christmas truce of 1914. In his performances, McCutcheon often introduces his music with a story. He has become known as a storyteller, and has made multiple appearances at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. He is married to children's author and storyteller, Carmen Agra Deedy. [13]

Christmas in the Trenches song performed by John McCutcheon

"Christmas in the Trenches" is a ballad from John McCutcheon's 1984 album Winter Solstice. It tells the story of the 1914 Christmas Truce between the British and German lines on the Western Front during the Great War from the perspective of a fictional British soldier. Although Francis Tolliver is a fictional character, the event depicted in the ballad is true. McCutcheon met some of the German soldiers involved in this Christmas story when he toured in Denmark.

Christmas truce Ceasefire on the Western Front, 25 December 1914

The Christmas truce was a series of widespread but unofficial ceasefires along the Western Front of World War I around Christmas 1914.

The National Storytelling Festival is held the first full weekend of October in Jonesborough, Tennessee at the International Storytelling Center. The National Storytelling Festival was founded by Jimmy Neil Smith, a high school journalism teacher in 1973. It has grown over the years to become a major festival both in the United States and internationally.

McCutcheon's music has, since the 1990s, increasingly evolved into heartland rock-influenced ballads, while he still occasionally performs purer folk music, particularly when playing the dulcimer.

Heartland rock is a genre of rock music characterized by a straightforward, often roots musical style, a concern with middle class and/or blue-collar American life, and a conviction that rock music has a social or communal purpose beyond just entertainment.

In 2011 McCutcheon portrayed IWW organizer and songwriter Joe Hill in Si Kahn's one-man play Joe Hill's Last Will, produced by Main Stage West in Sebastopol, California.

Industrial Workers of the World International labor union

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), members of which are commonly termed "Wobblies", is an international labor union that was founded in 1905 in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. The union combines general unionism with industrial unionism, as it is a general union whose members are further organized within the industry of their employment. The philosophy and tactics of the IWW are described as "revolutionary industrial unionism", with ties to both socialist and anarchist labor movements.

Joe Hill Swedish-American labor activist, songwriter, and member of the Industrial Workers of the World

Joe Hill, born Joel Emmanuel Hägglund and also known as Joseph Hillström, was a Swedish-American labor activist, songwriter, and member of the Industrial Workers of the World. A native Swedish speaker, he learned English during the early 1900s, while working various jobs from New York to San Francisco. Hill, an immigrant worker frequently facing unemployment and underemployment, became a popular songwriter and cartoonist for the union. His most famous songs include "The Preacher and the Slave", "The Tramp", "There is Power in a Union", "The Rebel Girl", and "Casey Jones—the Union Scab", which express the harsh and combative life of itinerant workers, and call for workers to organize their efforts to improve working conditions.

Sebastopol, California City in California, United States

Sebastopol or is a city in Sonoma County, in California. The population was 7,379 at the 2010 U.S. Census, but its businesses also serve surrounding rural portions of Sonoma County, a region known as West County, which has a population of up to 50,000 residents.

John McCutcheon performs in Richmond VA. 2017-04-21 2017-04-21 John McCutcheon performs in Richmond VA..jpg
John McCutcheon performs in Richmond VA. 2017-04-21

Discography

Books

Grammy Award Nominations

John McCutcheon has received six Grammy nominations. The Grammy Awards are awarded annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

YearNominee / workAwardResult
1995 "John McCutcheon's Four Seasons: Summersongs" Best Musical Album for Children Nominated
1996 "John McCutcheon's Four Seasons: Wintersongs" Best Musical Album for Children Nominated
1997 "Bigger Than Yourself" Best Musical Album for Children Nominated
1998 "John McCutcheon's Four Seasons: Autumnsongs" Best Musical Album for Children Nominated
1999 "John McCutcheon's Four Seasons: Springsongs" Best Musical Album for Children Nominated
2006 "Christmas in the Trenches" Best Spoken Word Album for Children Nominated

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References

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