Youth Trad Song is an exciting idea born out of a love for traditional singing. A group of eight volunteers are organizing the weekend.
Julia Friend, New Haven, CT
When she was a kid in NY most of Julia’s family outings were to folk concerts, song parties, and singing weekends. She branched out into Contra and Morris dancing but still loves singing and listening to ballads, chorus songs, etc more than anything and so she was very pleased to co-author the CDSS Folk Song Starter Kit with Nicole Singer (www.cdss.org/song). In her “real life” Julia repairs woodwind instruments and sells her Stringcycle guitar string crafts at festivals and at stringcycle.etsy.com.
Ian McGullam, Ithaca, NY
Ian’s parents used to make fun of him for belting out sea chanteys while mowing the lawn as a kid. Their fault; they started him on the music. After screwing up the courage to sing in a few folk club floor spots while studying in London, he really discovered trad session singing through the Morris world and Exceedingly Good Song Night in New York City. Ian loves close harmony singing, when you’re so in tune with the other singer that you can feel your voices physically pushing together. He also sings shape-note and classically, and plays the fiddle and viola. When not making noise, Ian is a writer and editor.
Mel Novner, Somerville, MA
Mel has been singing off-key with folkies in bars since zir childhood in Minnesota, and has expanded to singing for more than warmth. Zie’s discovered a love for Sacred Harp and Sea Music in recent years, and is always up for a rousing chorus. When not singing, morris dancing, contra dancing, blues dancing, playing the concertina badly or searching for Bigfoot, zie enjoys petting furred seals.
Anna Nowogrodzki, Ithaca, NY
Anna has been singing all her life, but it was in children’s choir that she got addicted to harmony and the social aspects of singing. In college she discovered the folk community and was happily stunned to find that there were other people who liked the same music she did. When not singing, contra dancing, Morris dancing, or sword dancing, she studies a fungal disease of grapevines. She has been singing Sacred Harp for six years and still sings “la” for most of the shapes.
Rhys Mcgovern, Somerville, MA
Rhys is a western Mass native who has traveled to a variety of places, often in search of good music and good dancing. Rhys has been singing since childhood, and has most recently spent a lot of time singing while doing grounds work at Pinewoods Camp. Particular folk music interests include (but are not limited to) Corsican paghjellas, Sacred Harp, sea shantys, miner’s songs, song-swap circles, and regional differences in vocal resonance. Rhys thinks salted caramel ice cream may be the most delicious thing in the world.
Nicole Singer, Northampton, MA
Nicole Singer is a musician, teacher, artist, and sailor living in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts. Nicole sings sea songs and chanteys, gospel, work songs, ballads, blues, and lots of other things. Nicole recently co-authored the Folk Sing Starter Kit with Julia Friend for the Country Dance and Song Society. She has performed at the Bates College Folk Festival, Swarthmore College, NEFFA, Mystic Seaport’s Sea Music Festival, and at local participatory sings from Baltimore to Boston and many places in between. She can sometimes be found singing aboard tall ships too. When she’s not singing, Nicole teaches visual art at an elementary school in Amherst, MA. “Singer” is her real last name.
Natty Smith, Somerville, MA
As a child, Natty was constantly asked by his parents to stop singing to himself on his high chair during dinner. He studied violin while growing up, and sang in Christmas Revels productions during the year and in singing classes with folks like Peter and Mary Alice Amidon, and John Mayberry and Jamie Beaton, in the summers. He can usually be heard singing after Morris dancing somewhere in North America or England, or while sailing off the coast of Maine. He is pursuing a career in education in the Boston area, plays fiddle, sings with the Musica Sacra Ensemble, Morris dances with the Pinewoods Morris Men, Maple Morris, and Thames Valley International, and serves on the Pinewoods Camp, Inc. and Country Dance & Song Society Boards of Directors.
Becky Wright, Philadelphia, PA
Becky has loved singing since she can remember, though she didn’t discover the traditional song community until college. An avid Sacred Harp singer and composer, Becky co-chaired the 2013 Keystone Sacred Harp Convention and was involved in the production of the Shenandoah Harmony, a new shape-note tunebook. While not singing, Becky works at a small nonprofit organization in Philadelphia. She particularly enjoys minor keys, small-group singing, and room-shaking harmonies.
Former Committee Members
Youth Trad Song never would have come to be without its founding committee, including one member who has moved onto other projects. Join us in giving thanks for all that Jonathan did for this event!
Jonathan Leiss, Hillsborough, NC
Jonathan Leiss’s earliest musical memories are of listening to LPs of sea shanties and by Jean Ritchie. At the tender age of ten he embarrassed himself by lip-synching to Woody Guthrie at a Sunday School ice-cream social and lip-synching party. Since then he’s taken up claw-hammer banjo, learned to can pickles and jam, and become a professional fire fighter. Jonathan lives with his wife in Hillsborough, NC, where they dream of owning a farm. He was tickled pink to be a part of Youth Traditional Song Weekend.