Barbara Dane with Johnny Harper

Barbara Dane is an amazing figure in American music – still singing powerfully, still writing new songs, and still active in social causes at the ripe age of 83! Barbara first came to wide public attention in the late 1950s, and over the years has performed jazz with legendary musicians like Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden, blues with Muddy Waters and Memphis Slim, folk music with Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, Civil Rights anthems with Fanny Lou Hamer, the Chambers Brothers and others.

She has been recording since 1957, and many of her albums are available on CD through You’ll find her singing folk songs solo, blues with Lightning Hopkins, jazz with legends like Earl Hines and Benny Carter as well as Bay Area favorites Ray Skjelbred, Bob Mielke, and Dick Hadlock, R&B with Plas Johnson and Earl Palmer!

While she had a major record deal and was appearing frequently on national television, Barbara maintained her commitment to work in the movements for peace and justice. She sang in the Mississippi Freedom Schools and the first Women’s Music Festival, was the first U.S. singer to tour Cuba after the revolution, and essentially set her career aside to work with the GI movement against the Vietnam War. She also ran her own club in San Francisco showcasing many blues and jazz greats. In 1970 with her husband Irwin Silber she founded Paredon Records, producing and issuing nearly 50 albums of songs of resistance and struggle from movements around the world, all still available at She has toured in Eastern and Western Europe, Latin America, and Asia, as well as throughout the U.S.A.

Today Barbara continues to express her passionate commitment to peace and justice. She plays sold-out shows at Berkeley’s Freight and Salvage, and at festivals, peace rallies, and other public events. Her Festival performance is certain to be surprising, powerful, and uplifting. Barbara is backed on this show by her longtime accompanist Johnny Harper – an exciting electric guitarist, also himself a powerful singer and songwriter who will add his voice to tonight’s program. This show is a rare treat for us all!