Press release, August 2001

For over twenty years, the members of Rebel Voices* have created incredible harmony. They took their name from a book containing a collection of writings, songs, poems, and cartoons by the Industrial Workers of the World. The “Wobblies” were rabble rousers, unionists and singers who attacked the issues of their time with passion and humour. Now Rebel Voices from the U.S. will be appearing in Sheffield at the Festival of Political Song with one of the older members of the movement from which they took their name. Eighty-five year-old Faith Petric is a staunch and apparently everlasting pillar of folk music and has been a “Wobblie” for most of her life.

The music of Rebel Voices, like that of Faith Petric, presents the struggles and triumphs of real people - workers from many lands and many times. Included too, are the voices of today’s rebels: union activists, gays and lesbians, environmental activists, refugees and others so often left voiceless.

They will be joined by Coope and Boyes and Simpson. This group’s unaccompanied harmony singing has brought them international recognition. They will be performing “The Christmas Truce Peace Concert” together with a specially created community choir drawn from singers across Yorkshire and Lancashire by Janet Russell. Their performance is inspired by the carols of peace that were sung across No-Man’s Land, taking forward a spirit of reconciliation that eventually resulted in a meeting where enemies came to recognise their shared humanity.

Rooted in the long tradition of political song, these are only a few of the performances scheduled as part of the Raise Your Banners Festival of Political Song, November 16th, 17th and 18th at Sheffield Hallam University.

Other performances include Leon Rosselson and Robb Johnson: “A highly subversive pairing of two of the left’s most eloquent songwriters” (Daily Telegraph) and unreconstructed social surrealist performance, poetry and trash mandola-fuelled songs from Attila the Stockbroker. There will also be a wide range of workshops for both adults and children.

*Participation of Rebel Voices has been made possible in part through support from The Fund for U.S. Artists at International Festivals and Exhibitions, a public-private partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, the U.S. Department of State, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and The Rockefeller Foundation, with additional support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and administered by Arts International.