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Celebrating Oscar

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Saturday, December 10 at 10PM on AM 820
Sunday, December 18 at 4PM on 93.9 FM
Friday, December 23 at 3PM on 93.9FM and at 7PM on AM 820
Saturday, December 24 at 4PM on AM 820
Sunday, December 25 at 11AM on 93.9FM
Friday, December 30 at 2PM on AM 820
Saturday, December 31 at 4PM on 93.9FM
Oscar Brand 's Folksong Festival airs every Saturday at 10PM on AM 820

About "Celebrating Oscar"
This December, Oscar Brand celebrates 60 years on the WNYC airwaves hosting Folksong Festival, a much-cherished Saturday night stop on the radio dial that has remained committed to championing folk music, even as commercial tastes have evolved through the years.

One of the longest-running programs in American radio history, Folksong Festival has played a legendary role by showcasing iconic performers including Joan Baez, Woody Guthrie, Huddie Ledbetter, and Pete Seeger. Bob Dylan made his solo New York radio debut on the show, and Arlo Guthrie gave one of his earliest performances of “Alice's Restaurant” right in Brand's studio. Suzanne Vega, Emmylou Harris, Judy Collins, Harry Belafonte, Harry Chapin, and John Denver have all been featured guests, and the show continues to support young talent and new voices.

Throughout December, WNYC will broadcast “Celebrating Oscar,” an anniversary special recorded before an in-studio audience, with Brand and friends. Appalachian singer/songwriter Jean Ritchie, singer/songwriter Christine Lavin, and blues guitarist Guy Davis join Brand and WNYC's Leonard Lopate as they play songs, swap stories, and celebrate this landmark anniversary.

Folksong Festival has been a mold-breaker on many levels. During the McCarthy era, the show continued to invite blacklisted folksingers even as Brand played anti-Soviet songs, leading him to hold the notable distinction of being both blacklisted by HUAC and attacked by the Communist Party. The show never kept a rigid format, allowing for a live audience in its earliest days, surprise drop-ins by well-known folk-singers, and presentations of a range of genres, including protest songs and World War II anthems. Brand has also remained decidedly modern, traveling with adventurous singer/songwriters into the contemporary world of rock and rap music while remaining a showcase for traditional folk music.

About Oscar Brand
A formidable creative talent, Brand is an artist in his own right. As a songwriter, he wrote pieces for television that were featured on The Fox, Sybil, The Young Riders, Blue Chips, and over 300 documentaries. As a playwright, he wrote two Broadway productions—A Joyful Noise which starred John Raitt, and The Education of Hyman Kaplan, which starred Tom Bosley and Hal Linden—in addition to six off-Broadway plays.

During his 60 years on WNYC, Brand also hosted radio programs for NPR, NBC, WNEW, CBS, and television shows for NBC, CBS, and PBS. In 1995, Brand was awarded a personal Peabody Award for “50 years in service to the music and messages of folk performers and fans around the world,” on the occasion of his 50th Anniversary.

“Oscar Brand is a treasure to the city and nation at large,” said Laura Walker, WNYC President. “For 60 years, he has shared his knowledge, sense of humor, and abiding commitment to the American folksong with WNYC's audience.  He has educated, surprised, and sometimes provoked us, enlivening our understanding of our nation's musical, political and cultural heritage. To work with a man who possesses such passion, vitality, and sheer endurance is truly an honor and a joy.”

“Of all the shows I've worked on, Folksong Festival is my favorite,” said Brand. “WNYC has never censored me or ‘re-educated' me. The only criteria has been that the show is well-produced and of service to New Yorkers. After 60 years, they're stuck with me. The only way I'll stop is if they drag me out, dead or kicking.”

» Oscar Brand's Web site

Additional Links
» Jean Ritchie's website
» Christine Lavin's website
» Guy Davis' website