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Oscar Brand (born February 7, 1920, in Winnipegmarker, Manitobamarker, Canada), is a folk singer, songwriter, and author. In his career, spanning over 60 years, he has composed at least 300 songs and released nearly 100 albums, among them Canadian patriotic songs, songs of the U.S. Armed Forces, sea shanties, presidential campaign songs over the years, and songs of protest.

Biography

He has played alongside such legends of folk music as Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Josh White, and Pete Seeger. He wrote various books on the folk song and folk song collections including The Ballad Mongers: Rise of the American Folk Song, Songs Of '76: A Folksinger's History Of The Revolution and Bawdy Songs & Backroom Ballads, the latter comprising four volumes.

Brand is well known for writing catchy, themed, folk songs, including the eponymous theme to his CBC television show "Let's Sing Out" and the Canadian patriotic song "Something to Sing About," (actual title: This Land of Ours), which is one of Canada's national folk songs, if not the only national folk song, and has collaborated on a number of musicals, most notably The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N (a musical version of Leo Rosten's stories on the fictional character Hyman Kaplan), and A Joyful Noise.

He has been hosting the radio show Oscar Brand's Folksong Festival every Saturday at 10 p.m. on WNYCmarker-AM 820 in New York City. The show has run more or less continuously since 1945, making it the longest-running radio show with the same host, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The show celebrated its 60th anniversary on December 10, 2005. Over its run it has introduced such talents to the world as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Woody Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie,Huddie Ledbetter, Joni Mitchell, Peter, Paul & Mary, Judy Collins, Kingston Trio, Pete Seeger and the Weavers. Other notable guest performers over the years have included Burl Ives, Josh White, Josh White, Jr., Harry Belafonte, Odetta, John Denver, Harry Chapin, and B.B. King. In order to make sure that his radio program could not be censored he has refused to be paid by WNYC for the past sixty-five years. Though he was an anti-communist, the HUAC committe referred to his show as a `pipeline of communism,' because he made sure that the artists who were blacklisted still had a platform to reach the public.

In the early 1960s Oscar Brand brought his substantial connections in the worldwide folk music community home to his native Canada with his CTV television program Let’s Sing Out. The program was staged at and broadcast from university campuses across Canada and both revived the careers of long-forgotten pioneers of the folk music movement such as Malvina Reynolds, the Womenfolk, The Weavers and others and introduced then-unknown Canadian singers such as Joni Mitchell.

His score for the 1968 Off-Broadway show How to Steal An Election sent up the current belief that charisma would help a candidate win. Standout lyrics include "Charisma" (as sung by Calvin Coolidge) and "Down Among the Grassroots." The album cover was decorated with election buttons including the 1968 Nixon campaign.

Oscar Brand has also won the Peabody Award for broadcast excellence in 1982 for his broadcast The Sunday Show on National Public Radio, and was awarded the Personal Peabody Award in 1997 (shared with Oprah Winfrey).

Oscar Brand was on the original board that created the Children's Television Workshop (CTW), which was the genesis of the creation of "Sesame Street." He maintains to this day that the organization has never achieved its original purpose which was to reach the children in the ghetto. Because of his dedication to this belief and his persistance in reminding "Sesame Street" of their mission, they created a character of him called "Oscar The Grouch."

Brand's music runs the gamut from novelty song to serious social commentary and spans an incredible number of genres. His records are one of the greatest repositories of American folk songs ever recorded by a single artist. Many of them cannot be found elsewhere.

Discography

References

  1. Oscar Brand: Discography
  2. IBDB: The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N
  3. IBDB: A Joyful Noise
  4. Daily News: 60 yrs. of his Brand of music
  5. Canadian Encyclopedia: Oscar Brand
  6. How to Steal an Election
  7. Peabody Awards: Oscar Brand - Personal Award


External links




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