I began singing professionally in 1969, after dropping out of teaching and moving to San Francisco. I wanted to wear flowers in my hair.
I soon found a community of people who believed in using music as a tool for transforming hearts and minds. Here I’m singing with Joan Baez at a Sanctuary Movement rally in Berkeley….one of my most thrilling moments.
On tour in Vietnam with the USO, around 1972. I wanted to go to Vietnam to be a witness. It was a powerful, life-changing experience.
I moved back home to Washington State around 1973, and founded the Applejam Folk Center in Olympia, followed a year later by The Sunny Side Folk Center in Chehalis. There were some wonderful musicians who graced those stages .
At the Northwest Folklife Festival with Jim Zito, my spouse emeritus, late 70’s.
Working with the Washington Centennial Commission, collecting and recording songs for Washington Songs and Lore. About 1989.
During Washington’s Centennial year of 1989, I toured the State for the Washington Resident Songwriter Project, sharing the songs I’d collected and creating new songs —eventually recorded as Washington Notebook by Victory Music. This is the promo picture I used. Later I worked with the Arts Commission collecting music of the Grange halls of Washington and creating a radio show.
I did a lot of singing in the classroom with kids, touring with the Cultural Enrichment Program of the State Arts Commission, and working with the Folklife in the Schools program. I loved introducing kids to Washington history through songs!
In 2006, I was invited by Dr. Sis Levin to come to Bethlehem to work with the Peacebuilders program there, teaching the kids peace songs. It was a profound experience. When I came home I created a power point/musical presentation called “Pilgrimage: Journey to the Heart of Israel and Palestine.”, in order to share my experience there. I was able to present it at many churches and other gatherings...to share a story many had never heard.
Cary Black has been my rock in the studio, both as my primary bass player, and later as co-producer. Such a gifted and patient musician!
Rebel Voices: Susan Lewis and Janet Stecher. They have been wonderful allies. We’ve toured together and co-created some memorable Northwest Folklife events on the Labor Stage. It was these women and Anne Feeney who convinced me to become involved with Local 1000 of the AFM. I was on the national board for three exciting years. Wonderful, grassroots organization under the leadership of John McCutcheon.
In 2000 I began studying at the University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland. Joanna Macy was my last teacher. I graduated with my Doctor of Ministry degree and was then ordained in 2006. This was a powerful journey. ..a wonderful coming together of spirituality, art and social justice.
Jen was in third grade when she wrote the article below. It’s my favorite article about my life and work.